“The Art in being Wolf”: a unique initiative to help better understand and better protect the predator

‘Every living species deserves its living space. Every human being has the duty to respect it’: this is the message of The Promise, a short film directed by Gabriele Salvatores and produced by Almo Nature, which believes in the protection of the wolf and has made it the theme of its main communication project for 2015.

Another project also true to this commitment, is “The Art in being Wolf”, a show that captures images of the remarkable lives of wolves from a discreet, non-invasive distance using a video camera with a telephoto lens. The human voice is a background, distant accompaniment to the natural life and the relationship between predator and prey.

The project: a documentary-concert to learn about the wolf

The project, “L’Arte nell’essere Lupo” (“The Art in being Wolf”) was born in 2010 with an ambitious purpose: to find a litter of wolves in order to create a documentary concert. This difficult task was realised in Val Chisone, in Italy where video maker Stefano Polliotto managed to capture precious footage of a wolf pack without affecting its daily routine, while musician and soprano Ethel Onnis enhanced the cultural and emotional aspect of the footage through a live musical performance. The combination of video footage and live music not only became a touring show but also an initiative to raise awareness of the wolf and its natural habitat.

In particular, “The Art in being Wolf” seeks to discover the habitat of the beautiful predator in the Italian setting of the Cozie Alps in Piedmont, where amongst the beauty and mountainous landscape, the animal also has to contend with the man-made challenge of poaching. With the wolf’s survival at the heart of its message, “The Art in being Wolf” was designed not only as an impressive show that would touch the emotions of viewers sensitive to this issue but also as a cultural initiative. The project’s collaboration with the local association Natura Verde Acqua helps raise awareness of the ecosystem and wildlife in the area where the wolf has a very relevant role; it also proposes the future creation of a specialist centre for sharing information about the wolf.

Stefano Polliotto and Ethel Onnis, the creators of “The Art in being Wolf”

The uniqueness of “The Art in being Wolf” project most probably stems from the passion and professional skills of its creators Stefano Polliotto and Ethel Onnis. Since 1998, Stefano has dedicated his work as video maker to the wolf, documenting the spontaneous return of the animal in the Western Alps in Italy. In 2005, the musician and soprano Ethel Onnis joined him as he filmed a large pack of wolves in the Orsiera Rocciavrè Park, located in Val Chisone. Fourteen wolves, including adults, sub-adults and puppies, were the protagonists of the three months of filming in 2010 that resulted in the creation of “The Art in being Wolf”. Here, the footage of the pack, later unfortunate victims of poaching themselves, blend with the live Celtic tunes played by music ensemble The Book of Kells. And this first show was only the beginning: in the summer of 2014, it was the turn of the Alpha wolves Fenrir and Gretel with their puppies to star in new, exciting footage, once again accompanied by music performed by Onnis and The Book of Kells, which was also turned in to a CD entitled ‘Wolves Story’.

Photo Credits: Marco Costantin