Man on the River, by fair means

by · February 8, 2010


Giacomo and the Ness Yawl somewhere along the Po.


Roland Poltock in the Art Waiting Room at Lago


Roland at his work table


Shaping planks


The molds set up in the Art Waiting Room


Silvio wields a Japanese saw

all photos courtesy Giacomo Stefano

Giacomo De Stefano was introduced to me by Michael Bogoger of DoryMan. Michael asked if I’d be interested in writing about Giacomo (as he has) and helping him along in his mission. My answer was an enthusiastic yes, but then other things…so, finally, here it is. My apologies to Giacomo for the delay.
Giacomo is planning a voyage from London to Istanbul via an Oughtred Ness yawl, sailing and rowing. His goal is to raise awareness on several fronts, but most notably clean water, low impact transportation and the destructive effects of global tourism. He made a similiar voyage last year, also in a Ness yawl, down the river Po. I’ve had a little correspondence w/Giacomo and I do believe he possesses the passion, intensity and poetry of a true visionary. In his own words:

“According to WTO data published in the report, Changes in Leisure Time: The Impact of Tourism*, since 1998 tourism has become the largest industry on the planet. Nothing produces more, consumes more, ejects more and wastes more. Mass tourism, the real monster, develops at a very fast rate. Is there a way ot traveling, experiencing, and eating without eroding environments and cultures? Is there a way to bring a sustainable, local economy to the river sides society? My name is Giacomo De Stefano, and I am a traveler, a man who is looking for
new ways of dealing with our complex reality. I live on a boat in Venice. I row and sail, with little or no money. With less I try do more. I want to row and sail, on a little boat from London to Istanbul. I am not alone. My colleagues and I are a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual group, and I believe we and you can be of service to each other. You can learn more about us on our web site
unaltropo.com. I am, with the help of some good friends, organizing this journey called By Fair
Means, North sea to Black Sea, to help us save two great rivers and demonstrate a way of intelligent tourism.”

The photos above represent the current progress toward Giacomo’s goal. Shipwright Roland Poltock and his friend Silvio have set up shop in the lobby of Lago, a Venetian design firm. The lobby is synonymous with an art gallery aptly named The Art Waiting Room where the firm brings in artists to show pieces related to waiting. “Art Waiting Room is a container of stimuli to change the experience of waiting in Lago.Inside the waiting room, young artists reinterpret in ever different content to wait. This a project in collaboration with the Foundation March.” Or as Nicolo Zago explains on DoryMan’s blog: “Of course as you know, our reception area has now become the famous “Art Waiting Room” where we host live installations and performances, but until now we have never seen anything like this.” Thus the building of the new Ness yawl becomes a sort of performance piece. In point of fact I would label the whole of Giacomo’s oeuvre as performance art, a very broad work of art encompassing not only the aesthetic but also the social, the political, the environmental and the spiritual realms. Indeed, I believe it is a gesamtkunstwerk. (Please, if you don’t know what this means, link to the definition!)

Giacomo seems very open, gracious and generous, he’s invited Michael and I , and I’m sure many others, to participate in his voyage, and contribute by whatever means available, be it physical, logistical, media related or financial. Find out more at his website Un altro Po.

I asked Giacomo why an Iain Oughtred boat as opposed to a more local craft from his home area. His response is enlightening:

“I decided to use a Ness Yawl because is a very versatile boat. I was so lucky that Roland Poltock lent me the boat last year and I felt in love so much with it. Maybe I am a little bit close to my Norwegian origin, dating 1079, in Sicily or maybe I love too much Iain Oughtred..I miss the Venetian boats but they would not be good to sail along the Black Sea coast, and they are too heavy. Only the MAscareta could be good , and light but not seaworthy enough.
The other Italian boat are too heavy, like all the gozzi, to be rowed upstream decently, or hauled by myself in case of danger.

After all the planet is small and I am a citizen of this small planet. We decided to use names. So Norway is here too, in my crazy mind, and Scotland too.

This is part of a circle. About rivers and seas.

DON’T LEAVE THIS PLANET TO THE STUPID. PLEASE”

I dare not add anything more.

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