Our position is that of fighters between two worlds: one that we do not recognize, the other that does not yet exist.

(Raoul Vaneigem)

A few months ago I had the pleasure of visiting the "Duchy of Bardo", near Mondovì (Cuneo) where the artist Piercarlo Bormida lives. It was a revelation for me, also in consideration of the fact that Piercarlo's words and what I saw, especially the living aura of his intense spiritual abode, confirmed to me the vital futurability of the conjunction of two dimensions until recently. it makes views as oppositional and here instead joined: anarchy and autarchy. I could not, therefore, restrain myself from the desire to understand better and to know more.

Dear Duke, what is the "Duchy of Bardo"?

The Bardo is a Duchy, a micronation1 that inhabits a territory and is not limited to the virtual dimension, a typical aspect of many others. It was born from the association of the same name which since 2013 has focused on a model of community life integrated with the environment and a highly proactive vision from a cultural point of view. Bardo extends for about 20,000 square meters in the Torre Mondovì wood, in southern Piedmont: the founders bought a property immersed in the wood, paying increasing attention to ecosophy. From 2020, Bardo Project manifests itself as an intentional micronation with a very specific mission: to experience art as a response to decay. Intentional, what does this mean? In a reality in which human beings have been transformed into compulsive consumers, Bardo arrives on the scenes of the Fifth World as if to define itself as a permanent performative act of awakening (or perhaps as a performative act as an act of permanent awakening!).

What is the relationship between art and life?

“Living your life as a piece of art”, said Gabriele D'Annunzio! Bardo mainly involves artists; some also well known and who immediately fell in love with the project (one for all? Johnson Righeira, of the well-known duo who made Vamos a la Playa famous in the world who recently decided to free themselves from their beautiful Turin to retire to the countryside enjoying the fresh air by devoting himself to viticulture). But also Paolo Gambi, for example, who is the creator of Rinascimento Poetico, a movement that wants to bring poetry back to the podium of priorities and that has given life to a micronation in unsuspecting times. But there are also ordinary people who have made the heart and the intellect a reason for life. And there are ambassadors and ministers all over the world, from Japan to San Marino, from India to Nigeria. Among them there are also characters of undoubted ability: in Tokyo, we have the one who led the team behind the opening ceremony of the Japanese Olympic Games; in Tuscany a home archaeologist at the most popular symposia in the sector, in Nigeria a stylist who has managed while maintaining the sartorial tradition to give a touch of avant-garde to African fashion by giving work to many of his young compatriots; in Occitania the singer of one of the leading groups of the Oc scene.

The last in chronological order is the Irish Randal Plunckett, Lord Dunsany (descendant of that Dunsany who was one of the fathers of fantasy literature - Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett - who influenced authors such as Borges, Lovecraft or Tolkien). 21st Baron of his lineage has transformed 700 acres of his park 40 kilometers from Dublin into wildlife rehabilitation and recovery area that is now once again welcoming foxes, barn owls, stoats, owls, herons and sparrow hawks, deer, foxes, otters, badgers, martens, hares: forests, meadows, streams and wild streams finally welcome free animals. Yes, because Lord Randal has banned hunting by virtue of the freedom to live. The fact that he is a spokesperson for rewilding could only bring him closer to the ranks of Bardo honorary citizens. Moreover, he is a valuable director, once again the heart of an artist changes the vision of the world around him. But the list is long and it is not destined to stop ...

Is that of ideal and self-managed communities a current trend?

As soon as we showed up we received a message of encouragement from Jacopo Fo, President of the Free Republic of Alcatraz. We immediately made friends with other micronations such as the Grand Duchy of Flandrensis and the Principality of Aigues-Mortes. Direct contacts with other micronations are the order of the day: there is a healthy habit in the world of micronations to sign mutual recognition treaties to give ourselves a credibility that somehow certifies the veracity of what we are doing. There are several treaties signed by the Duke with other heads of state: Kingdoms and Lands of the Crown of Ruthenia, Kingdom of North Barchant, Vandewal Principality, Grand Duchy of Flandrensis, Empire of Lehmark, Commonwealth of Dracul, Principauté de Moscha, Empire of Angyalistan , Atlas Island, Nabuzje Federal Republic, Desert Realm of Raphistan, Principauté Anthophilia. Various opportunities for collaboration are in place, even with other realities: not only micronations, therefore, but ecovillages, transition towns, temporarily autonomous areas, independent fiefdoms, etc. The Duke is also awarded the title of Baron of Ladonia, the artistic micronation of the recently deceased sculptor Lars Vilks and is Knight Grand Cross of the Grand Duchy of Flandrensis for his actions against climate change and environmental protection. As the dear friend and Chancellor of the Flandrensis often says, "we joke, but we mean it."

In what sense do you speak of micro-homelands?

When we generally speak of a nation-state, we think of something 'static': in our case, on the other hand, it is movement and fluidity that give strength to projects. We have several, some of which are decidedly procreative under different profiles: one of these is Abduction, an artistic residence where guests have the opportunity to live inside Bardo. It was born from the close collaboration with the Teatro Selvatico (the young artistic engine of micronation) and is enjoying the success it deserves. Guests are literally 'kidnapped' from everyday life to be catapulted into Bardo (this is why the typically UFO terminology - it is also true that Bardo has a Ministry dedicated to Extraterrestrial Affairs). Here they have the opportunity to experience their artistic projects by dedicating time to the maintenance of the territory, taking care of the gardens and the forest, sharing ideas and community moments. All this happens in exchange for room and board. It goes without saying that the waiting list of people who want to live this experience is quite encouraging. During their stay at the Duchy, the artists have the opportunity to experiment with the various disciplines that micronation offers to guests and offers on-site (frequency baths, forest baths, workshops in nature, etc.) and to propose a restitution act open to citizens.

Bardo includes a Chivalric Order closely related to the Abduction project, but the Knights are those of "free time" rather than those typical of work. We firmly believe in "creative idleness", to borrow the term from the writer Domenico De Masi: a concept that is far from the laxity typical of certain ill-thinkers. A new nobility is born, made up of awareness and respect for the environment, ideals, actions and many truths.

In recent times a growing number of people are moving in the direction that Bardo has taken by decentralizing, many are approaching the idea of founding islands where to cultivate beauty. Our Archipelago project was born just as a container in which to include the realities that come close to our way of imagining places of creativity: at the moment we have already 'annexed' a TAZ in the Neapolitan area (the Marquisate of Urside), and a magnificent working utopia for several years already in the field of holistic training not far from Bardo. A bit like the widespread hotels, where the rooms are scattered throughout the village. The concept is very similar. After all, this is the beauty of networking. Utopias remain dreams only until someone puts them into practice.

Who is Piercarlo Bormida? What kind of artist?

Piercarlo (von) Bòrmida is an interdisciplinary Piedmontese artist, but who has a somewhat baroque genealogical tree: among his ancestors, there are in fact aristocrats and feudal lords, Norman explorers, captains of fortune, court artists, men of arms with swords ready as men with a sharp pen, some Ligurian pirates around the seven seas, princesses of East Africa and Lombards. Pioneer musician in the Italian electronic and techno scene, he has a successful career as a composer, performer and DJ behind him. Founder of Betulla Records, he has released renowned international labels such as Neotantra (UK) and Electric Music Foundation (USA), playing live in numerous European locations, not least the Sonar of Barcelona. At the same time, he is a heraldic illustrator and a profound connoisseur of symbolism and esotericism. He has published writings in Italian-English and French in the genealogical, historical and metapolitical fields. Pranotherapist and creator of frequency baths, he leads a life marked by self-sufficiency and respect for nature, he is vegan and guides the bardic micronation by weaving interpersonal relationships with characters and artists from all over the world. At times it might look like a Martian and maybe it is. After all, our home is the stars. In the Bardo coat of arms, after all, there are the sun king of the monarchy and the black star of anarchy.

Do you have your own rituals?

Bardo celebrates several appointments, the Foundation on February 20 (birthday of the Duke). The national day of the flag occurs on May 20 (birthday of the Duchess), and then on the Day of Arts on September 1, whose patron saint could only be Carmelo Bene, the date on which we celebrate her birthday.

The most awaited one, however, is inherent to the Constitution Day which takes place at the turn of the Summer solstice in conjunction with the Festival of the Teatro Selvatico “Naturarte”: a date not to be missed for lovers of beauty, art in natural contexts and Dadaism that remembers the future. In fact, the new Knights are appointed and the Bardo team expands on a subtle level with evocative rituals such as the raising of the flag and the speech of the Duke at the top of the suggestive Torre Mondovì hill.

When I was your guest I also noticed a special relationship with the animal worlds… can you tell us about it?

The Bardo Sanctuary is a Bardo micronation project aimed at animals. It is primarily a space where numerous animals have found shelter, good food and the freedom to be themselves. The Sanctuary of Bardo, however, is not an educational farm or a new declination of a rural zoo where you can spend Sundays time. Bardo Sanctuary is a zoo anthropological center where men and animals live together respecting and infecting each other. In addition to our life companions, Bardo hosts wild animals to be reintroduced into nature such as foxes and hedgehogs: over time the rewild has evolved the concept of a refuge island to give strength to the ethological respect for the species that live in the micronation woods.

Many of the animals have been saved from mistreatment and neglect (former champion horses or mares, etc.), the Bard is given a life that is finally worthy without ever distorting them. It happens that sometimes animals in hospital are given temporary hospitality in the Canile Rifugio 281, animated by the Duchess a few minutes from Bardo, before seeing them again placed in new families by the very active association Gea, a reality led only by women with in common the love for animals but above all the awareness of a better world.

Can you explain the rich and original coat of arms of the Duchy?

Heraldry is a great passion of mine. From an early age I was attracted to the worlds of chivalry and the colors of shields, without forgetting the chimerical creatures that populate the imagination of shields. The Bardo coat of arms includes all the elements that conform to the ideal of European high aristocracy: shield, helm, crest, wreath, mantling, supporters, motto, coronet of ranks. In short, everything belongs to a self-respecting restaurant. Enamels are of great importance because they underlie very precise and emblematic meanings: we have azure and sable, combined with or-gold (yellow), which in heraldry is defined as metal, together with argent.

Of course, these colors are also present in the flag: azure for the sky and the sea (in heraldry it symbolizes victory, beauty, nobility), or for the sun (love, happiness, sovereignty), sable for the night (fidelity). The Bardo coat of arms appears simple, there are not many partitions, which makes it attractive and evocative at first eye. On the whole stand a gold sun (the reference to the Sun King) and a black star (the reference to anarchy), a real oxymoron that well represents our lifestyle. The supports could only be two deer (protected sons of Kernunnos, genius loci of the wood in which we took refuge and from which a new expanding humanity radiates), while as a crest we have the lion's head to symbolize royalty, but above all the courage to challenge adversity. As for the motto, it could only be “Ars Vivendi”, once again legible on various levels. The coronet is the Ducal one, ça va sans dire!. In fact, we only recognize Nature as queen, and we place ourselves at her service.

1 Recently some micronations have controversially defined themselves as fifth world in relation to the well-known economic scale that classifies the nations of the world in the first, second, third and fourth world.