Magic Carpets

MagiC Carpets is a platform dedicated to emerging artists to start their magical journeys across Europe

“MagiC Carpets” is a “Creative Europe” platform uniting 20 (14 active members and 2 partners in 2022–2025) European cultural organisations that create opportunities for emerging artists to embark on journeys to the lands unknown and to create, together with local artists and local communities, new works that highlight local specificities and compensate for the shortage of story-telling existing in the modern society by enhancing cultural accessibility, cultural activism and participation.

The title “MagiC Carpets” refers to “1001 Arabian Nights” fairy-tale story about the magic, or flying, carpet – a 'fantastic device' for travelling across the world in a twinkling of an eye. The creativity and imagination of Scheherazade used in story-telling to intrigue and to involve her husband becomes here a convincing metaphor of the power of culture to change the mistrust and confrontation into an intercultural dialogue, mutual understanding, respect and even love.

“MagiC Carpets” Management Board Committee: Virginija Vitkienė (CEO, Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022), Lewis Biggs (Curator, Writer, Cultural Consultant), Diane Dever (Co-founder & Director, Folkestone Fringe), Claudia Melo (Curator, Artistic director of Contextile 2022), Karmen Krasić Kožul (Managing Director, Lab852).

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Riding a Flying Carpet, an 1880 painting by Viktor Vasnetsov Riding a Flying Carpet, an 1880 painting by Viktor Vasnetsov


The stories we tell and the travels we embark on are two sides of the same coin. You probably have not heard many captivating stories about people, who have stayed in one place and lived their lives in the same way since the day they were born until the day they died. But you might also be mistaken if you think that people, who don’t travel the world, don’t travel at all. Those who imagine, tell and listen to stories live multiple lives.

Since the beginning of time, people loved listening to stories about faraway lands, strange and exotic places, unheard-of traditions, basilisks slain, and battles fought. And it is always the Other that has been thrilling and exciting us. The point where the known meets the unknown is a place where the legends and myths are born. Where ‘Us’ meets ‘Them’. The idea of terras incognitas is exciting. The understandable. The feared. Other places, people, worlds, times. Like Odyssey, stories bring us to the lands of monsters and to the edge of the map, where we push the limits or leave them for dragons to inhabit. We admire the travellers. We dream about embarking on heroic quests, travelling to foreign lands and exposing ourselves to things undiscovered and not yet experienced. Challenging and changing us.

The “One Thousand and One Nights” and Scheherazade’s stories are so captivating because, through the magic of stories, she brings her auditors to strange lands and mesmerises them. Just like the magic carpet that she has told us about, and which re-echoed in numerous stories, fairy-tales and found a place in our imagination.

We do have magic carpets these days. Transporting our effigies and ourselves so swiftly across the globe that only the very margins of our world remain undiscovered. We know more and believe less. We meet people who explore the world and people who are forced to uproot their lives and travel through hell, leaving death, destruction and the ruins of their home and their countries behind.

Therefore, we need the magic of storytelling to come back. We need those, who weave stories into carpets, that carry us across mountains and oceans, and the walls and prejudices we build ourselves. Carpets that eventually show us that even though Mediterranean shores, Caucasian mountains, the Islands of the Northern Sea and rich greenery of the Baltic countries may seem as exotic locales, but once you discover people, communities and problems they experience, what might seem different at first because of historical and cultural contexts, start to look like familiar scenarios that you can empathise with.

And here is the cue for the ‘Other’ to enter; the magician. The storyteller. An artist from a different country, a different background, to hear your stories and retell them through movement, colour, sound, or all of them together. And it may bring both confusion and clarity, to hear one’s story told, interpreted and told back to you, diffused through the prism of art, different culture, sets of beliefs and even language. Thus, the stories are born, told, weaved into the patterns of magic carpets and carried across the continent.

“MagiC Carpets” is a project that entrusts the stories to the young emerging artists, sends them on quests for (self)discovery, learning to see and to let them be seen.

Folk tales, in all of Europe, form a true network of connections and the same or similar characters can be found in many places. These old stories have become, therefore, the base for many others. This project intends to unite several cities around Europe with the image of the carpet, connected to our anthropological structures of the imagination, to arrive at a new approach to participation in the community: rhizomatic, horizontal and reticular.

Benedetta Carpi De Resmini

Former Senior Curator MACRO Museum Rome,
Director Latitudo Art Projects,
Freelance curator