La Mezzadria (the history of Sharecropping)

Available on Google Arts & Culture artworks, artifacts, and interviews about agriculture and the history of Metayage. 

La Mazzadria. Arturo Faldi

Google Arts & Culture has recently added to its repertoire an online exhibition on sharecropping, which tells the main features through the history of an ancient agricultural center in the northeast Italian region Friuli Venezia Giulia. The system of sharecropping (The Italian mezzadria) was a type of land ownership where the farmer (sharecropper) used the land of an owner (proprietor) receiving a part of the products, usually half. The exhibition recounts these years both from the point of view of the proprietors such as the Morassutti family that during the 20th century in Friuli Venezia Giulia represented a typical family of landowners stipulating sharecropping contracts and from that of the sharecroppers’ thanks to a series of interviews, historical images, and texts that summarize the modalities of this type of agricultural contract. The exhibition aims to highlight the different parts, also investigating the figure of the so-called “Padroni ” (landlords). Historical photos, a clip of a 1984 news report kindly granted by the historical archives of the Istituto Luce, images of original artifacts such as the colonial booklet, a key element for the management of income, make up a story that, thanks to the new, immersive way of Google Arts & Culture to experience art, history, and culture brings the viewer to experience the history and culture of a world that may seem distant but that, after all, dates back less than 50 years. 

Giovanni Morassutti, creator of the exhibition and founder of Art Aia – Creatives / In / Residence, partner of the online platform wants to raise reflections on the model of collaboration that characterized Italy during the last century, underlining how the sense of sharing and collaboration between the families of sharecroppers and in some cases also between proprietors and sharecroppers represents a value to be inspired even today. “The Mezzadria has always intrigued me,” Morassutti says. “I think it’s important to talk about it openly, also to be able to confront its dynamics, each with his own experience. 

The exhibition also recounts the transition of the spaces of the agricultural center into cultural spaces dedicated to the development of the creative process, as testified in a brief interview by John Strasberg, son of Lee Strasberg, Morassutti’s teacher and long-time collaborator, who spent periods at the Friulian agricultural center teaching acting to actors from all over Europe. 

Finally, the farmyard, intended as a place of meeting and aggregation, represents the fulcrum of the exhibition and invites the viewer to reflect on the importance of creating opportunities for exchange and sharing in a natural context where you can establish contact with simple things.

Discover the online exhibition here