LEGAL DISAGREEMENTS/DISACCORDI LEGALI

a project curated by Matteo Cavalleri and Luisa Lorenza Corna – Millepiani

26 Nov 2009

FLORENCE: NEW ORDINANCE: FALSE MIMES FORBIDDEN

(ASCA) – Florence, 26 Nov –

The ordinance was presented this morning by the councillor of decorum Massimo Mattei and the captain of municipal police Massimo Ancillotti. The document, signed by Matteo Renzi, originates from a series of reports by the local police concerning “intrusive beggars who cause a progressive loss of sense of security”. The Municipality, therefore, prohibits “invasive and pestering begging”, in particular that by ‘’people dressed in white robes and headdress, with their faces distorted by white wax, the so-called falsemimes“. It is also forbidden to beg “by exploiting animals, musical Instruments”, “to insistently and repeatedly approach clients of bar and restaurants” and to “show physical malformations or to act walking difficulties.” Finally, the ordinance prohibits begging – even if not insidious – nearby and within hospitals and road intersections. ‘”There isn’t any security anxiety or a need to bring back the sheriff, said Mattei. We felt the necessity to solve the problems of decorum, that is why we intervened.”

afe/sam/ss (Asca)
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– “From time to time, in the evening, we would buy some food at the Indian take-away rotisserie in Ghibellina Street and then eat it on the stairs of Santa Croce Church under the stern gaze of Dante. During the day, the police would have chased us away.”

Debora, London, Jan 2010
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– “The Rosi is a Brazilian woman who owns a kiosk in Piazza Savonarola. Durin the summer she brings the table football outside. The police have already confiscated it twice.”

Giulia, Florence, March 2009

The historical centre of Florence seems to be undergoing a frame-up within a strict set of rules which define the conduct of the people living, or just crossing, its spaces. Rules that perform a double function: on the one hand, they are directed at preserving a precious historical heritage, on the other, they represent the means of exercising a control on the public space, through emphasizing the dread finality of preservation. Punctual ordinances (but not rules: it’s almost impossible to get a glimpse of any reference to a political horizon) which conserve, limit and therefore obstruct a cultural and political transformation of the space. The encounter with the tangible city cannot betray the crystallized image which is distributed and advertised. In this context, the reality doesn’t just confirm but conform to its representation. The historical center is the portion of space where Florence intensifies and falsifies its own image, and, at the same time, it is the area where rules and ordinances are enforced with a higher severity in comparison to other spaces within the city. This generates a governance discontinuity between contiguous zones, center and non-center, historical and non-historical. It is the place of congestion and restriction: on the one hand, flows of visitors are welcomed and promoted, on the other, the possibilities of moving and interacting with the territory are monitored and curbed. Borders don’t lie at the margins but within the historical center: it’s just after having gained access, that boundaries, in the form of obstacles and restrictions, become tangible.
In defence of an apparent culture of decorum and against the danger of degradation, the center is affected every year by a series of new prohibitions: against bivouac, against the possession of alcoholic beverages exceeding personal use, against begging, and lastly, “against the false-mimes.. people with white tunics, head coverings and the face distorted by white wax.” Ordinances are negative duties, enunciate against things, behaviours and situations, aimed to discipline the space of possibility. They are fragments of a method of government: a set of institutions, procedures, calculations and tactics which find their essential technical tool in security devices.
At the same time it happens, that the very people undergoing such a net of constraints, could internalize the prohibition, becoming accomplice of this control system. The imperative of surveillance and preservation is sometimes not just accepted, but exerted and promoted. A recent installation of RemoSalvadori, part of the wider project Alla Maniera d’oggi (1), which was trying to connect some relevant Florentine museums and monuments with the recent local artistic production, raised, amongst the citizens, a controversy
even superior to the one showed by the municipality. This is the symptom of a pulverized and pervasive method of government, of the absence of a wider plan, of politics reduced to executive power and turned into a mere management of the parts (2).

What gestures of subversion are possible within such a constrained space?
What singular expressions of freedom can take place inside that strongly sterilized context?
Which kind of divergent forms of representation can wedge in the residual spaces that these policies necessarily produce?
How to detect and exploit the juridical holes? How to elude laws and ordinances without breaching them, therefore revealing their inconsistencies and inner paradoxes?

Artists, designers and researchers invited, are asked to articulate, in the form they retain more suitable, a reflection in response to our brief. The projects or art pieces can be placed or performed within the city of Florence or in the space of Villa Romana. The ones who will choose to act within the city will have to provide, with our help, a documentation to be placed in the Villa.
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(1)
For additional information look at the archived events on the webpage of the Pecci Museum: http://www.centropecci.it/

(2)
the sentence refers to the text: Jacques Rancière, La mésentente. Politique et philosophie, Galilée, Paris 1995; Il disaccordo. Politica e filosofia, tr. it. B. Magni, Meltemi, Roma 2007

exhibited works

Role-playing games/The role of games

Seafront/Urban Observatory, Settepersette (2010)

Seven people sit around a table and discuss with each other. Each person plays a role defined by the position they occupy: the mayor of a city, its inhabitant, a merchant, a tourist, a foreigner and a street artist. After a few minutes the dialogue is interrupted, the participants get up and change their position and take on a new role. The discussion resumes. The premises, the topics, the contents of the film refer to the problem of the city of Florence but, to underline the general value of the issues addressed, the city remains nameless. It discusses the relations between the monumental city and mass tourism, the possible forms of coexistence between the extraordinary use of the city and living, the economic issues connected with the flow of visitors, public order and the security (real or perceived) of those in the city. The participants are not actors and do not act, but bring their personal experience to the project. They are figures who play individuals living in the city and reflect on the possibility of reconciling the points of view and needs of the different groups they represent. The multiple scenarios are not simulated and the confrontation arises from the mentality and visions of each one of them, which are based on the role he or she has to identify with.

Brave New Alps, The city denied (2010)

The city denied, … conceived according to the interests of the masters, … erases diversity, … represses dissent… makes war on what is common to make way… to capital. The anarchists and anarchists of La Riottosa Squat, Florence 2010.
For one day Brave New Alps join the squatters in the historic centre of Florence to sell a series of posters printed by hand on Florentine paper and bearing the title of an anarchist mural newspaper posted in the streets of the San Frediano district. The action is a reflection on the phenomenon of the expulsion of artisan workshops from the historic centre of the city as a consequence of its commercialization and museification.

Tellervo Kalleinen, Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen, The Chorus of Complaints (2008)

The artists Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen, together with the Start association, have collected the complaints of a group of Florentines in relation to their city. With the help of a composer, the list of complaints became a musical text that the citizens themselves, transformed into a choir, performed in some spaces in Florence.

Raumlabor, People and pigeons, remote control (2010)

They always sit on the bench for hours. They have nothing better to do. I wonder: what are they waiting for? They don’t look like pusher. Look at her, you haven’t seen her before by chance. Look at that fat guy, he’s got exactly the same shirt as when he was in high school. (He starts flipping through a hunting magazine). My God, the guy forgot his bag, good people are walking around, look at the scene, but nobody tells him anything. (He opens a can of coke and goes back to his magazine). Ah there he is again, nice move. I’ve always hated pigeons but now I’m starting to like them, they’re not stupid at all. Some of them seem to be badly beaten up but I think they have more personalities than most people around here. (turn the pages again). No doubt this is a nice jacket.

Tracks and perimeters

Cartography Resistant (2004 – 10)

The project Cartografia Resistente was born in Florence in 2004 as a laboratory of urban exploration with the idea of experimenting possible ways of articulating psychogeographic experiences and innovative forms of representation of urban phenomena. It is a laboratory that aims to develop new ways of describing the evolving landscape, starting from a bottom-up perspective, and provide tools accessible to a wide audience for the shared construction of an alternative atlas of the city. The aim is to produce different and antagonistic visions for a city increasingly caught in the grip of the globalised capitalist economy, prey to the imperatives dictated by tourism and the enhancement of historical cultural heritage.

Eva Sauer and Robert Pettena (2010)

A photographic mapping of Florence. From a summit we can capture the entire urban development of the city, but the eccentric perspective subverts the order of space, its hierarchy. One looks for the historical centre, to find it only at the end.

The law to the letter

Henry Fisher, via Masaccio 223 (2010)

Cycling around the city I came across a building that looked both contemporary and abandoned at the same time – a school, or maybe a municipal office, or a converted space or something else. Unlike the surrounding buildings, the façade of the building overlooking Via Masaccio is covered with graffiti. I retraced the perimeter of the building starting from the north and transcribed every letter I could decipher along each wall, from right to left, from top to bottom. My reading was influenced by the expressive illegibility of the letters, the stratification of words, and, above all, my inability to decipher Italian morphemes. In this work, the transcription of the building into a text subtracts any formal surplus and unites a chorus of writings into a single paragraph.

Bianca Baldacci, Sfaccettature Legali (2010)

The project starts from the analysis and decomposition of the texts of a series of ordinances issued by the city of Florence. Mendacity is defined as a phenomenon realized “with representations that can be objectively harassing or invasive.” In this paper architecture, on the one hand, an excerpt of the text of the ordinance is reported; on the other hand, an application questions its validity by insinuating itself in its syntactic form.

Postcards

Superstudio, Italia Vostra (1972)

Starting from an ongoing process, Supestudio tries to take it to its extreme consequences and demonstrate its absurdity in this way. In controversy with the programs for the protection of historical centres, the table proposes a series of cartoons entitled Italia Vostra. Is Venice besieged by high water? Remedy: let’s drain the lagoon and cover the canals with bluish glass cement. In Florence are we trying to restore the historic centre to its original condition? Then let’s do a radical restoration, completely submerging the city. Superstudio’s projects are a sort of contex philosophiques, illustrated with a wealth of sketches, drawings, photomontages, vignettes and videos. On the whole, they stage negative utopias, “premonitory images of the horrors that architecture prepared for us”. (Carlo Ratti)

Bernard Khoury , Yasmine Almachnouk, Derailing Beirut (2010)

As a final act of resistance against a falsified story of which we have become passive actors, we wonder if we are able to invent devices capable of overturning the sensational stereotypes of Beirut and unmasking the innumerable fantasies that result. We propose to trace a hellish circuit in which the sensationalist tourist, in search of immediate gratification, is pushed into a predetermined path. Like passive bullets, tourists are placed in a hermetically lethargic situation to be eventually incorporated into the clichés and most obvious images of our city. Beirut thus becomes an exotic amusement park of destiny.

Luisa Lorenza Corna teaches in the faculty of Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies of the University of Leeds. Her main research interests are Marxism and aesthetics, post-war Italian art and architecture and theories of the metropolis. She has written about art and architecture for various journals, amongst which, more recently, Domus and Mute. At the moment she is editing and translating an anthology of Carla Lonzi’s art historical and feminist writings for Seagull Books, together with Jamila Mascat and Matthew Hyland. She is also a co-organiser of the research seminar Marxism in Culture (www.marxisminculture.org) at the Institute of Historical Research, London.