In 2005, the NUA Association (New contemporary art and research), composed of visual artists, musicians, theatre directors, political scientists, economists and cultural operators, launched and curated a project entitled “Going beyond the countries’ art – small States on uncertain stereotypes”. In this context, a first meeting gathering artists and institutions of contemporary art from small States of Europe was held in San Marino in November 2005. An observatory / network of artists and institutions from Andorra, Cyprus, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco and San Marino is being developed to encourage future cooperation. This network stems from the need to go beyond the countries’ art in order to promote transnational exchanges of experiences, methodologies and instruments and to support art production and its development throughout Europe. The project has been realised in the context of ARTMIX 2005 download, a multidisciplinary exhibition curated by the Office for Social and Cultural Activities, in collaboration with the Modern and Contemporary Art Gallery, and sponsored by the San Marino Foundation.
In 2009, the association NUA presented the project entitled “Little Constellation”, an international network offering a vision of contemporary art in geo-cultural micro areas and in the small States of Europe. This initiative, supported by the San Marino Foundation and by the San Marino Institutions responsible for Foreign Affairs, Culture and Tourism, with the collaboration of the Office for Social and Cultural Activities, the University of San Marino, the IUAV of Venice and the San Marino National Commission for UNESCO, is intended as an international platform to favour co-productions and collaborations among artists, associations, museums, arts centres, public and private institutes and international foundations. The objective is to disseminate information and organise exhibitions, as well as to promote meetings and residence opportunities for artists. The first and most important event of this survey on contemporary art was the exhibition “Little Constellation”, organised in March and April 2010 in Milan, at the Fabbrica del Vapore, followed by that in Malta, at the Malta Contemporary Art Foundation, which displayed works specifically created for this occasion and the most recent production of more than 20 artists from various countries. “Little Constellation” – the first publication dealing with contemporary art in the Small States of Europe – was presented in San Marino at the State Library, but also at the MIART in Milan, at the Tate Modern in London, at the CIA.IS – Centre for Icelandic Art, as well as at the main international fairs of contemporary art, including in Berlin, London, New York, Basel and Brussels. This publication has attracted much interest and appreciation at an international level and now it is sold in the major bookshops of contemporary art museums.
Today, “Little Constellation” is also an archive. In early 2011, the Little Constellation Library Archive was inaugurated at the seat of the NUA Association. This is the first specialised research and archive centre, which can be consulted free of charge (the digital catalogue will soon be available on the Internet web site) and which gathers about 400 books, including some rare catalogues and publications on contemporary art, collected over seven years of activity all over Europe, especially in the Small States of Europe. “Little Constellation” has given back to San Marino a social area dedicated to culture and research. This has been possible thanks to the attention and support of public and private bodies, which have invested in an innovative artistic project, so that it could develop into a common heritage. “Little Constellation” has also contributed to the promotion of the Republic of San Marino and its institutions as a centre able to create an important network of relations among artists, contemporary art curators and international cultural institutions. In the first half of 2012, the City of Genoa has been chosen to display the exhibition “The Land seen from the Sea” of the network “Little Constellation”, with works by 34 artists from the 13 countries involved and side-events such as workshops, debates and meetings. The exhibition in Genoa has been conceived as the end result of the workshops hosted by various European institutions since 2004 and, at the same time, as a starting point for new investigations in the field of contemporary art research. Therefore, this exhibition is not an end in itself, but it is part of a joint working process, which will lead to the future international steps of the project. In December 2012, the network “Little Constellation” went to Gibraltar, by invitation of the Ministry of Culture, to realise an educational and relational project in the local cultural context. The programme included workshops open to the public, students, researchers and artists, with the aim of favouring a debate and investigation on contemporary arts in this extremely peculiar country. In this context, the book entitled “The Land seen from the Sea” was presented. This book includes the results of research activities, laboratories and exhibitions promoted by the network between 2011 and 2012, including the exhibition organised at the Contemporary Art Museum of Villa Croce in Genoa. In 2013 the National Gallery of Iceland hosted the exhibition of Little Constellation “Subjective Maps / Disappearances”, opening the Reykjavik Arts Festival. It was a contemporary art exhibition presenting 35 unique artists’ books, created for the occasion by 37 artists from geo-political micro-areas and the small States of Europe. Furthermore, in the same year, San Marino hosted the contemporary art exhibition “/ti’tano /little constellation”, showcasing the works by 30 international young artists under the age of 35. The exhibition gave a detailed snapshot of the artistic scene of geo-cultural systems similar to San Marino. The programme included a number of events taking place in the Titano Theatre and being part of the research project of the San Marino network as an “instrument to let unexpected voices be heard in the international critical and artistic debate”. The exhibition was accompanied by a publication.
In 2015 Gibraltar is hosting the “Little Constellation” and the project “Listening to the Sirens” was inaugurated: an international space dedicated to contemporary art, with a two-year exhibition programme including works of art by artists from the Small States participating in the network. It is also the first bilateral project established between San Marino and Gibraltar. The government hopes that this cultural event will broaden the relations between the two countries, both politically and economically.
Among the main activities of the SMIAF Project, aimed at promoting culture, tourism, innovation, training and professional skills for the citizens of San Marino, in particular for its young people, are the San Marino International Arts Festival (see chapter 1.3.3 and chapter 7.2.3), the “Festival of Knowledge – SmArt” (see chapter 2.1),the management of the information desk InformaGiovani Network San Marino and the participation in European networks of cultural organisations, such as Open Street Forum, F.N.A.S. Italia and networks of European projects for ongoing training in line with the “Europe 2020” objectives of the European Commission, with particular reference to the action “New Skills for New Jobs”.