The Four Littorals



AIR.CAT is organized around -and inspired by- the concept of making art influenced by the environment of the catalan littoral.

The literal definition of a littoral zone is the adjacency of a body of water to land, the latin root denoted the shore. It is the area of transition between terrestrial and maritime systems. Expanding this idea, a littoral exists where two diametrically different entities interact. Focus on the action of mixing: emulsion, intermediation, interpolation, ratiocination, heterogeneity...

There are four types of littoral that structures AIR.CAT





The Dry Littoral is the experience of hiking the trails along the coastline of Tossa de Mar. The Catalan Coastal Range, also known as the Ardenya Massif is an uplift of earth's crust composed of craggy granitic terrain that forms the multitude of calas or coves as it plunges into the Mediterranean richly characteristic of the Costa Brava. The trails are covered in dense forests of cork oak, holm oak, pine and Mediterranean shrub that frequently open into cliff edged promontories offering breathtaking vistas of the sea's horizon. The resident artists will be able to engage in a series of accompanied nature walks along the elevated coastal trails, trekking from one cala to the next, enjoying a picnic lunch en-route. Walking along the cliff-paths of Tossa for a gentle, verdant 5 km hike to Cala Bona and Cala Pola, residents will enjoy the time and opportunity to sketch, take notes, photograph and observe how Europe ends along its Mediterranean littoral. Trekking along Tossa’s trails, one can understand the scale, the texture and density of its quasi alpine flora and discuss thoughts and ideas that emerge when experiencing such an edge between two worlds.

The Wet Littoral is the experience of kayaking along the coastline, into the many calas, tide pools, caves and open stretches of the Mediterranean Sea. Where Land meets the Sea, a rich, complex and spatially compelling overlap occurs as the coastline exposes the geology of the Ardenya Massif for close inspection. Steep granite cliffs plunging-in to the gentle lapping almost wave-less swells of the Mediterranean. Slowly paddling through tight passages, shallows and into sea-caves of luminescent turquoise water residents will explore “wetscapes” that heavily influenced the work of Salvador Dali and the designs of Antoni Gaudi. Views into the shallows reveals the rich ecosystem of sea life thriving in the subtle tide. Typically the climate of the early summer is both calm and invigorating and coastal kayaking is both safe and very enjoyable. AIR.CAT mentor Gerard Smulevich is an experienced kayaking instructor, former competitive kayaker and has over 15 years of experience exploring the littoral of Tossa de Mar including art/design-oriented study-abroad groups .

The Immersive Littoral is the experience of snorkeling along the coastline. A wide variety of littoral seaweeds that differentiate at various depths anchor on a cascade of rocks along the shoreline. Rock dwelling fish, lipids, mussels, oysters, sea urchins, anemones, crabs, moray eels, octopus and a multitude of other fauna nest among the flora. Countless schools of fish swarm in and out within the shore, cautious of humans but generally unafraid. Depths plunge but most of our attention will be close to shore. The Mediterranean is legendary for its serenity and transparency and the undersea landscapes revealed through immersion offer an unexpected, critical and inspired array of textures, colors and form that are unique to this region and very present in its culture. AIR.CAT mentor Dennis Hollinsgworth is a registered scuba diver and avid snorkelist. With almost 20 years of experience in snorkeling the calas of Tossa, he will present the Immersive Littoral to AIR.CAT resident artists as an opportunity for both creative and critical interpretation.

The Cultural Littoral is founded on a rich, diverse and historically paradigmatic human landscape. Catalunya itself is an overlay of multiple Mediterranean cultures, drawing on its proximity to North Africa and the Magreb region as well as other Euopean immigration flows. The vibrant history of art in this region stretches from the Middle Ages through Modernisme (a variant of Art Nouveau specific to Catalunya) to Early Twentieth Century modernism including Cubism, Surrealism, Dada, Tachisme (Art Informale) and Conceptualism. . The accretion of generations and the influence of visitors to Tossa de Mar creates a virtual cultural reef that is vibrant and living. The substance or coral of this cultural reef is the stuff of civilization: artistic, intellectual, scientific, educational. It’s not a coincidence that the artistic production of Dali, Picasso, Chagall, Gaudi, Miro, Kars and other Modern artists originated or found a home along the littoral stretching from Barcelona to Cadaques near the French border of Catalunya. This one-month residency program will offer two focused field trips: Barcelona (1:20 south by bus!) , with a private tour of La Sagrada Familia offered by the Project Director himself plus visits to the Miro, Picasso and Catalunya art museums; and a trip to Cadaques-Portlligat (1:30 north by car) to visit Salvador Dali’s life-long home and studio and the artist colony of Cadaques.