Blaise Patrix – Social art, a form of convivial participatory art
The “Art Links/l’Art Crée du Lien” festival will be an opportunity to present the “sociable art” scene based on the active and creative participation of the public. “Sociable art” enables people to symbolically display their lifestyle through many different art forms that are appealing to all ages, cultural and social classes, with particular attention to marginalized groups that have more serious problems of integration. Such groups will have the opportunity to actively participate in artistic creation and this will help them increasing their perception of themselves.
Makan Keita – The sacrifice or the re-creation of the “sociable” times
Considering that people’s lives are summed up of relationships and intertwined social behaviours, it would be futile to compare them to the commercial world, were money is a fundamental standard. The system that engulfs our lives continually leads us to believe that we are moving toward a more commercialized lifestyle, undoing everything that we take for granted such as family relationships. On the other hand social groups are opposed to such a commercialized system, they still regard the exchange and interpersonal relationships such as family and social values above current day commercialization.
Giovanna Parodi da Passano Gelede – Using the power of beauty to restore social harmony
African art and traditions are both correlated in nature. For example, mask rituals have a strong therapeutic and artistic power because they both have a functional role in maintaining social cohesion. Gelede is a widespread religious cult among Western Yoruba tribes. Its rituals are centred on masks, symbolizing “mothers-witches” whose main character is the figure of Iya NIa, the great mother. The objective for the Gelede performances is to dissipate social tension and restore social order in the society. The power of beauty in these performances, which is signified through music, dance, chants as well as worn ornaments and masks, is issued to gratify Iya NIa.
Mili Romano – An experience of public art: Heart of Stone
Heart of Stone is a public art project that takes place in Pianoro, which is a small town close to Bologna. The project started in 2005 and consists in a collective “work in progress”. The involved artists, in collaboration with the public, have experienced a new work methodology that uses art to intervene in urban, social and cultural community issues. This project has turned art into a “useful” tool to the social scene. An example is Servabo, which is a bench shaped as a question mark. This artistic project saw young teenagers drawing “alterative” maps of the place where they live which in return became the cover of the bench. This work enhanced youths’ sense of belonging to the area.
Ivan Bargna – What public and participative art put at stake
According to Claude Lévis-Strauss, Modern art lost its main characteristic that is the power of creating symbolic links, typical of the so-called “primitive art”. Nevertheless, if we start reflecting on participative art and its different forms, which has been developed at international level in the ’80s as a result of many political and artistic movements in the ’60s and ’70s, we might change our mind.
The evolution of this type of art demonstrates how artists have tried to engage into the real world through their own experiences rather than simply representing it. This led the artists’ transition from creating their work alone to having the community work on it as a whole. Participative art projects usually take place in symbolic places, and try to appreciate social dynamics. In this context the public is asked to participate in the creation of the art works rather than just being a spectator.
Politics has recently lost its public role by detaching from its own citizens because of excessive care of finance and aesthetic. Therefore participative art has taken over the role of politics becoming a new form of governance, reflecting society’s dissent and empowerment. However this new vocation has its down sides. One of them is the risk that politics will rely on participative art rather than on conceptualizing new and more effective social policies. It might let art trying to solve people’s issues disregarding social policies. Another negative feature is that art might become more of a tool for the government, which will result in the loss of its independence and authenticity turning it into a political tool.
Performance in participative art requires that everyday events convey new meanings. The importance that society gives to art and its productions allows this transfiguration. This process might help marginalized people gain self-esteem through the process of making art. The power of defining a normal gesture under the label of art permits its transformation into a symbol by intensifying its meaning. At the same time participative art creates places in which it can express dissent and elaborate new social reforms. In this process the role of the artist is that of a cultural mediator: a person that permits the creation of social and fruitful connections.
Vito Minoia - Sogni che varcano i muri. Marco Cavallo a Villa Fastiggi (Dreams that cross the walls. Marco Horse at Villa Fastiggi)
Aenigma University theatre association of Urbino coordinated projects and creative activities that take place in a prison located in an outlying district of Pesaro. Thanks to this theatre project, several teenagers have had the opportunity to come into direct contact with the convicts ever since 2003. Last year two groups of students carried out a project, whose main topic was called the dreams of the convicts. A detailed research was conducted on the liberating power of dreams in a condition of deprivation of freedom.
Giuditta Nelli – IMPOSSIBLE SITES dans la rue. Storie d’arte pubblica da un progetto nomade (IMPOSSIBLE SITES in the street. Stories of public art from a project nomad)
IMPOSSIBLE SITES dans la rue is a project that attempts to transform public spaces into venues of interaction, participation and action. It took place in Senegal, Italy and Morocco where artists taught a different and more inclusive form of photography: “stenopeic photography”. This kind of photography has a strong “democratic” aspect because of its low budget equipment. Everyone can be a photographer: he/she just needs a box. The participants observe human and urban spaces and depict them in order to overcome, both emotionally and physically, the so-called “impossible places”.
Valentina Lusini – Il Giardino della memoria in Rwanda (The Garden of memory in Rwanda)
The Garden of Memory is a memorial project for the Rwanda genocide, which has been conceptualized by Bruce Clarke. The aim of this project consisted in creating a “sculpure” that would take into account the importance of community participation. For this reason the construction of the memorial is in itself a process of remembrance and contemplation. The commemorative ceremony consists in the posing of stones. Each stone has an individual identity. One million stones, each bearing the name or a distinctive sign of a victim, will be posed on a site of approximately one square kilometre. The inauguration of the Garden took place on June 5th 2000 and the deadline for finalizing it is the 20th anniversary of the genocide in 2014.
Enrica Camporesi and Carl Cappelle – Mashru‘ elKural: community building nell’Egitto post-rivoluzionario (Mashru’ elkural: community building in post-revolutionary Egypt)
Mashru‘ elKural/The Choir Project is an independent project developed in the Rawabet theatre-warehouse located in Cairo. Salam Yousry imported the internationally known Complaints Choir, series of workshops in which participants could express their complaints in form of music. Since the beginning, Yousry’s workshops took a different shape. Participants preferred dealing with social community issues rather than with individual complaints. This project ended up becoming a “social trial”. People chose a social thematic, turned it into a song and shared it with a wider audience through public performance in different districts throughout Cairo.
Anna Maria Pecci – Lingua contro Lingua. Una mostra collaborativa (Language against Language. A collaborative exhibition)
Lingua contro Lingua. Una mostra collaborativa was a project carried out between the years of 2008 and 2009 within the framework of the European initiative MAP for ID – Museums as places for intercultural Dialogue (www.mapforit.it). This initiative provided an important role to museums transforming them into a venue of multicultural representation. MAP for ID demonstrates the relevance of intercultural mediation as a relational process aimed to create a social link between citizens and institutions.
Evelyne Parello – La création artistique, nouveau vecteur d’habiletés sociales et de participation citoyenne? (Artistic creation, the new vector of social skills and citizen participation?)
Art can be an instrument of social cohesion and participation in areas that are compromised by micro criminality and degraded by vandalism. Projects such as pARTage L’Arc En Ciel that tend to socially re-adjust such areas are constantly faced with challenges. A social network, which has been adapted by public schools in Brussels, district has allowed the development of different paintings using the “circle technique”. The participative character of such initiatives has been able to gather a group of different people around a common creation.
Elena Cometti – Teatri di resilienza: l’esperienza di Oikos (Theaters of resilience: the experience of Oikos)
Theatre has been widely used as tool of interaction in difficult social contexts since the ’50s. The Oikos project was inspired from these previous experiences. The project has been carried out by two associations called Esseoesse and FuoriXCaso which both involved sensitive categories such as migrants and unemployed youths as well as teenagers and university students. The objective set forth by Oikos is to reflect on a new form of development and “social resilience”. This project took place between Italy and Senegal and its final production consisted in a new and original play.
Michel Gelinne – Projet Teatri migranti racconti di viaggi senza sogni di vacanza (Theater Projects of migrant tales of travel without holiday dreams)
Theatre and music concerts are essential venues for exposing diverse cultures. Vénerie’s theater projects were conceptualized to enable marginalized women to recreate a social link in their society. These projects included various art forms such as live music and especially drama that helped them explore their “life path” by transitioning between genres such as fiction, drama and autobiographical materials. These projects took place among the citizens of Watermael-Boitsfort, a neighborhood in Brussels, Belgium, where artists organized many workshops.
Françoise Deville – De l’acupuncture urbaine Douze ans de pratiques artistiques au service de la cohésion sociale à Schaerbeek (Urban acupuncture ff the twelve years of artistic practices serving of social cohesion in Schaerbeek)
The Administrative Region of Brussels signed an agreement with the municipality and the inhabitants of Schaerbeek for a project to support the requalification of neighborhoods, through the language of art.
Photos, movies, audio-dictionaries, music and comics started a chain of sustainable and participated initiatives to create a common memory of the area in which environmental, social and economic problems largely impact their daily lives. In an open and friendly atmosphere, artists from all over the world, have been able to create a global resonance of the local citizen’s problems.
Vittoria Ravagli – Editoria socializzante: i Taller Leñateros (Proto books: the Taller Leñateros)
Located in Cristobal de las Casas, in Chiapas, Mexico, Taller Leñateros is a specific publishing collective where contemporary Mayan artists create their work. Founded in 1975 by the famous poet Ambar Past, Taller Leñateros has as objective to convey, enhance and spread the values of the Mayan culture across the world. Taller Leñateros also contributes to the conservation of Native American languages and ancient traditions by keeping their majestic culture alive in addition to recycling agricultural and industrial wastes turning them into books as well as pieces of art.
Anne Grosfilley – La sérigraphie: une expression de la culture urbaine (The serigraph: an expression of the urban culture)
Some countries in West Africa are famous for their artisanal production of prestigious textiles basin, which are cleverly decorated by women sarakolé. This artcraft has become a source of wealth and economic development, thanks to the recent introduction of the method in textile screen printing. This is a new form of art that requires little expenditure of time and money which in return has introduced a new style of clothing and craftsmenship through a remajrkable combination that involves art and development.
Geert Steendam – Regarde Papa ce que j’ai fait – Kijk mama, zelfgemaakt
Un projet participatif pour les professionnels (Look at Dad what I did – Kijk mama, zelfgemaakt a participatory project for professionals)
Pianofabriek, which is a non-profit association in the Flemish Community of Brussels, began a joint project in 2011 that aimed at sheding light on problems of management, organization of human resources through the production of art workshops as well as trainings. Rienforced with the “Do It Yourself!” spirit, young men and woman, as well as children, have been actively involved in the project, which ran up workshops and art exhibitions. The great success of the initiative has laid the groundwork for a new event to be realized in 2013.
Francesco Volta – Quando la società diventa opera d’arte (When a company becomes a work of art)
The cultural association Oltre organizes cultural community events. The most famous ones are the Par tòt (“for everybody”) parade and the Soup International Festival. The Par tòt parade takes place every two years in Bologna and it is an intercultural parade created by artists/inhabitants.The latest event involved more than 4.000 people as performers and about 40.000 as spectators. The objective of these events is to turn inhabitants into artists and vice versa through a process of social resilience based on values such as freedom, self-production and self-financing.