The wild apple forests of the Tien Shan

documentary and photographic exhibition on the Prize-winning site

The exhibition, presented by the Fondazione Benetton Studi Ricerche, begins by summarizing the aims and organization of the Carlo Scarpa Prize, with a first look at the special aspects of the place, marked by the extraordinary presence of the wild apple tree, as shown by the results of the photographic campaign carried out by the Alma Association – and in particular by Catherine Peix – which has been committed to raising the awareness of the local government and of the international community in order to diffuse knowledge and conserve the wild apple forests, since 2010.


The second section describes the historical and geographical context of the designated place within Central Asia, and the links that existed in the past with the commercial, political and cultural flows of the ancient silk roads. This is accompanied by a description of the forests in their geographical and environmental location within the south-east Kazakhstan mountain system. The characteristics of the Malus sieversii species, which distinguishes these formations, are described in particular, retracing the history of its discovery and the circumstances of the relationship between the Soviet regime and scientific research in the genetic and biological fields, with a special focus on the human and scientific story of Aymak Djangaliev (1913-2009), who studied the Kazakh population of Malus sieversii from 1930 to 1990, and who was also dedicated to safeguarding this fruit.


The third section dwells on the history of and work carried out by the Alma Association. Catherine Peix’s documentary film Les origines de la pomme ou “Le jardin d’Eden retrouvé”/The origins of the apple or “The discovery of the garden of Eden”, is screened continuously here, having been made available by the director and the producer Kri-Kor Films-Seppia-arte-fr3 (2010) in a special new Italian edition lasting about 30 minutes; the film will also be screened at the opening of the prize giving ceremony in Treviso’s Teatro Comunale on Saturday 14 May at 5pm.


The fourth section illustrates the historical and agronomic circumstances that have more recently marked apple cultivation in different parts of Italy and Europe. The observations extend to subjects such as the knowledge and safeguarding of traditional growing methods, modern fruit growing and the related environmental and ecological problems; finally, there is a look at the current conditions of the apple’s place of origin, in particular the geopolitical location of Kazakhstan, at the centre of flows about which it is possible to speak of silk roads in a contemporary sense. The bibliography collected in relation to the research carried out will also be available in this section, along with a video-diary made with the Fondazione by the director Davide Gambino of the study trip to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.


The contents of the exhibition are based on those of the book entitled The Wild Apple Forests of the Tien Shan. The International Carlo Scarpa Prize for Gardens, xxvii Annual Award, edited by Giuseppe Barbera, Patrizia Boschiero and Luigi Latini, with Catherine Peix, Fondazione Benetton Studi Ricerche, Treviso 2016.

The exhibition layout, graphic design and panels are by Anna Costa.