On Saturday 21 April, I participated in the biannual event NoPlace, which in this year took place in Santo Stefano di Magra, a little village close to La Spezia on the Italian Riviera. NoPlace is an experimental exhibition venue and that it arrives at its 4th edition confirms that rhizome-organized, i.e. horizontal and not hierarchical exhibitions and art events are possible. 525 artists showed their works, from the art student to the established artist, curating each other and taking responsibility for their own works as well as for their fellows. Basing on the rhizome concept by Guattari and Deleuze in A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, the organization is structured on four levels: “the author of the origin of the rhizome invites max. four other authors. These constitute the second level of the rhizome and can invite up to three authors each, the third level. Those authors of the third level involve up to two each (the fourth level) closing the “generative” line.The activation of the rhizome is following a rigid rule which allows keeping the participation’s dynamic transparent and readable. Every author who causes attendances takes responsibility for the following level and doesn’t influence in no ways the choices of those authors invited by her/him.” view noplace.space This year’s edition took place in a former ceramic factory and in the shopping mall of Santo Stefano di Magra.
I installed my work Blood Sugar in the ceramic factory in the entrance of one of the former workshop building: Two varieties of little paper packs were arranged in two round accumulation. On both paper wraps of drawing paper, are printed texts about the social organization. The one text, Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes in English language is printed on white paper and the other text, Errico Malatesta’s L’anarchia and other political writings, in Italian on pink paper. The Leviathan-wraps contain sugar cubes, the Malatesta text wraps are empty. The caption card placed between the two accumulations with the title: Blood Sugar, subtitle: Freedom or Security, the texts’ titles and authors, and the invitation for the visitor to take one of the paper packs choosing between the red and the white ones.
The work is related to the Imperatives – an artistic Encyclopédie Raisonné project reminding that we have still possibilities to choose for a social change. The idea of a social contract that offers us safety and protection from nature, especially human nature which conceptualized as dangerous, through a sovereignty for which everybody should give up her/his freedom, mandating to an authority power and political decisions.
The concept of Hobbes is fundamental for democracies. The imaginary of the permanent thread and danger lead people to give up not only political power. The question of safety is still not resolved, it seems more often the government is jeopardizing democratic values and endanger the health of integrity and of the physical body as well. Sugar has this ambiguous value, too. This industrial product is sweet and comforting in the first taste and yet is diabetes one of the prevalent diseases of modern societies and not only: it seems the blood sugar values are changed to its worse all over the world.
On the other side are the empty packs with Malatesta’s writings about the social evolution and the autonomy process. What freedom promises: at first nothing comfortable or even nothing at all, except for the responsibility for the first steps in the unknown process with its ups and downs. A process of democracy which seems to us uncertain and threatening.
To communicate and expose myself in social media and in a blog is more than strange for me. Well, there are many reasons, but this is another inspection for another concern. The actual concern and reason, is my new project Civil Disobedience. Obviously a political art project with which I aim, next to cover some social aspects, to join in collaborations with non-artist who are engaged in sociopolitical activities.
A journal can be, in a way, a documentation of all the processes that will evolve. And hopefully create a space for dialogue. Let’s see…
I dived in some great texts, some of them are new for me and some of them are old companions. But my favorite author in this moment is Hannah Arendt. For example, her The Origins of Totalitarianism is a breakdown of Western society and absolute valuable.
If you have no time to read, there are some options:
Margherita d’Ayala Valva will moderate the talk/discussion entitled Il Cibo da Prodotto di Consumo a Strumento Creativo ( food : from consumer products to instrument of creativity) with Social Soups – Rachela Abbate and Maria Rebecca Ballestra – and the Social Soups guest artist/designer Eduardo Malagigi.
Save the date June 9th, 6.00 – 8.00 pm, Fortezza Vecchia in Livorno
Social Soups is a platform project for aesthetics of social activities regarding the social implication of food.
in collaboration with Maria Rebecca Ballestra
Social Soups is a program for social transformation through art focusing on food as an elementary component. The project Social Soups combines artistic and social activities regarding the cultural and social development in specific contexts of urban areas, which hosts cultural and social diversities. Furthermore, the project aims to include aspects of food in relation to territory, science, and environment as well as to call attention to socio-political topics. Social Soups intend to be an open and free participatory and disposable platform with which can be collaborated spontaneously. The project invites artists to “prepare a social soup”; artists who focus on their researches and artistic operations on food and formulate diverse social, cultural, economic, environmental and political interpretations. By using food and through multiple techniques and expressions the artists deal with important subjects related to nutrition: from food as means of survival and dependencies to food as a condition of social injustice and obsessions.
The mixture of different cultural approaches, problems, and destinies are like a soup in which diverse ingredients have to amalgamate in order to offer everyone the opportunity to be “fed”. Through food can be realized strong and multi-sensorial relations with the audience and the territory. Beyond feeding our bodies, food enriches our minds and – when becoming an instrument of artistic operations – is an agent through which the audience can make the acquaintance with cultural and traditional aspects as well as customs of other countries. Furthermore, the artists create a strong relationship with the audience, which becomes actively part of the artistic operations. Based on their knowledge and personal research, the artists reflect through their own poesis on the multitude of critical relations moreover as result of exchanges the contemporary human being has with its habitat.
Public engagement is a core issue of Social Soups aiming to address artistic activities directly to the citizen as audience as well as an active participant in order to increase awareness of social justice and foster critical regionalism.
We are living in times in which societies undergo massive changes caused by the economic and environmental crisis, geopolitical conflicts as well as by new technologies and capitalization of resources. Societies and urban areas are signed by mobility and agglomeration built by different interests. The refugee flow and the occurring humanitarian crisis are the most eminent facts communities have to envisage, moreover urges to react and to reconsider policies as racism and xenophobia are enhancing through activism and politics. Artistic activities of the Social Soups project aims to invite the audience to overtake an active role pointing to democratic values within the well-being of everyone. This can happen through artistic operation as they are an expression of critical position and driven by utopia mission regarding the social, spiritual, natural and intellectual aspects of human life. Therefore art becomes an antagonistic space in societies, a turning point of awareness towards social and environmental issues. As the specification of the artistic operations is food, which is a universal “language” and part of human life, Social Soups is able to create a platform where different activities of social life can meet, be reflected on, communicate and elaborated. With the Social Soups projects can be created models of community policy, which are showcased by different means.
Art as possibility of social transformation
Famous artists use food to reflect on social engagement asking those questions. Artistic operations instigate transformation processes through new and unusual combinations of elements and through realization of visions. Because of that, the expansion of interactions between artist and society becomes more and more important. Social Soups tries to go a step further by creating platforms of public engagement through art by using food. Food as aesthetical concernment put a light on various aspects of ethical, psychological, cultural and political attitude. Thus exploring food issues can be a commencement of changes for the single life and for the environment in general. For this reason a “social soup” is a metaphor depicting the necessity to gain awareness that food function in social practices. The project Social Soups includes aspects of food preparation, the territory of its origin and consequently aspects of food in relation to migration, envisaging the building of new social agglomerations and new socio political possibilities especially in the urban area as the world population became urbanized. Hence the artists see a possibility of public engagement as the project aims furthermore to collaborate with communities in order make a social transformation practicable.
The above-mentioned artistic practice highlights the core meaning of culture: understanding “the other”. Social practice is intrinsically linked with cultural practice and therefore artistic operations are of vital importance especially as crisis urges single and communities to undergo massive changes in the social apparatuses. Like in the urgent situation of migration flows is moreover given a chance for regional criticism and self-regulation of communities in order to create a real social and livable environment instead of functionalize people and environment as it happen in capitalistic hegemonies. The inclusion of artistic operations in the social life opens the possibility to understand co-existence and importance of the “different” – the Other – as condition to foster solidarity and constructive modifications.