About one third of the way through my time in Terni, I began to get the sense that I, a foreigner, a gringo from a culturally confused Leone film, had arrived at some kind of crossroads.
It's interesting, what's happening in Europe. There's certainly a wave of anti-EU sentiment, from Germany to Norway and certainly the UK, and this raises several questions about the utopian dreams that the political body once represented. This young, educated, mobile class - you know them - English speaking, experienced, working and moving between states, partnering across races and healing old wounds - may in fact never get the political agency they were promised. Likewise, the various fabrications upholding European cohesion lie exposed by a playful Russia - recently, for example, Hungary's decision to withhold gas supplies to Ukraine.
Not co-incidentally, Hungary has been following a largely traditional line with its cultural offerings of late. Likewise on a cultural level we see smaller festivals like Terni - whose 'satellite' feel in the programming is very much a product of such mobility, entering a fragile period of existential crisis born of an uncertain future. It's by no means the only festival going through this. Everywhere here, there's a crawling sense that these smaller, multi-disciplinary, multi-kulti festivals are no longer at the crest of the wave. As the cultural pull swings back towards tradition, one senses that they are, unfortunately, swimming against the tide.
I'll resist saying more about the context (although there is certainly more to be said - about xenophobia, about fascism, about the turning of blind eyes. About my home state, Australia, leading the way with all of this. Perhaps another day).