The charm of identity display

A couple of weeks ago I escaped Valencia while the city was being taken over by the local celebrations of Fallas.

While living in Spain about ten years ago, I thought very little of Fallas. Literally. I did not give too much thought to them and I only considered it a loud event to which bright Erasmus students would go to get drunk before going back home to become lobbysts or political VIPs in different countries handling the most crucial matters of our age. No need to get on any bus or train to see it. What I completely misunderstood and never bothered to even try to grasp or feel or understand was the massive support they enjoyed and how deeply rooted that was.

Then 2018 arrived and Fallas came along. I did not know the celebrations would last for weeks and they would overturn the daily life of the city. Little food trucks (the real ones) frying churros, buñuelos and any sort of edible thing from 8 am til 2 am at every corner, all sort of firecrackers at every hour of the day and the night, hoards of people ignoring basic traffic rules, let alone hygiene ones.

And the Parade for the “Flower Ofrenda“: every Fallero and Fallera of the city parades and brings flowers to a statue of the Virgin Mary on the main square. I remember coming back home from work with my bike and facing thousands of people of all ages dressed in expensive and uncomfortable traditional clothes parading through the center, and just stood there speechless. It might have been the first time I experienced a nationalistic folkloric event of these proportions. As an Italian raised in a very laic environment, I am really unprepared for this sort of events, and, I realize, I lack tools of understanding, and empathizing, I think.

With this on my mind, I went away for the weekend, and hopped on a train to the capital to visit friends. Friends have friends, and the latter ones might turn out to be curious and nice persons and all of a sudden it’s 4 am and you are talking nationalistic sentiments in Spain before the elections. It turned out the Fallas had a certain allure to them, actually quite a lot. The festivity as a shared moment through which people connect prevailed over any other nationalistic aspects, in their minds. Even though they had not lived in Valencia nor had they ever been in the city over fallas they envied it. They were longing for the common feeling of belonging to a strongly characterised place, longing for the collective identification process embodied by the attires, the objects, the shared spaces of the city being transformed in its design and traffic, and even in its possible generally accepted normative role.

To me it felt naive, almost childish at times, and it made me acknowledge once again how powerful nationalism as sentiment related to an administratively regulated area is among us, including left wing politically committed adults. It scares me but remains mesmerizing, this building of collective feelings.

Picture: YOU ARE HERE, Madrid, Centro drámatico nacional, March 2019

On building memories and personal legacies vol. III: the things, the feelings

Some more thoughts on a heritage site in my hometown, a sculpture that has been about to be removed entirely in November 2018 to make space for a parking lot.

Time is a deeply relevant factor in the shaping of feelings, emotions and attachments. Affecting the development of spaces and natures, it spreads around and involves people and their memory. It marks materials and objects to the point that they can be transformed, embody and afford the most different perspectives.

Every cultural objects has a brute materiality and a social materiality, and hard to believe, little we have cared for materials as such and not as a mean or symbols nor as part of analysis of material cultures until just recently.

The Monument for the resistance in my hometown was literally forged in the 60s by the workers of the city harbour, men close in time and space to World war II, the memory of which the monument intended to commemorate. That physical space, though, had grown over time into a neglected area outside of any pedestrian route in the middle of traffic. In the dispute about the position of the monument that took place in November, different levels of attachment to ideas and materials were traceable.
By attributing an emotional and civic value to the site, a specific sensibility shaped around an historical context became defined: one in which public space serves a purpose, and that implies that emotional attachment is strictly linked to a collective and agreed memory. The sensibility of those close in time to World war II, or with a direct connection to it, either by family or studies – social links.
This opposed to two different positions:

  • one was of general indifference toward the topic altogether, as heritage is not part of any discourse for some citizens, and the knowledge about facts happened in the city does not go beyond the last 20 years;
  • a second one was of support for the proposal of moving the monument and create a different way of remembering the events. This was well spreaded among younger people (25-45) for what I could perceive, and I could personally see how the topic was considered not relevant inside the self estimeed cultural élite of the city (doctors, laywers, university professors and so forth) of a supposed left. Because, who is nowadays attached to a form of celebration that implies occupying public space with the representation of an idea embodied in a huge sculture? How can a piece of iron embody any deep meaning? Regardless of the idea, a growing sense of private celebration and private memory is far more important. The simplified narrative of old-static-visible Vs new-invisible-fast I think was behind this, and therefore a general neglect for the real matter was carried on.

Interestingly, in the city almost all roundabouts cointain work of arts by local artists, sponsored not by the city hall but private companies. There is a complete separation between what is considered to be a decorative value (not even functional) of an object and the possible additional meanings it might have.

It is difficult to create an attachment out of nowhere, to make sure that a material embodies ideas that are understood, since that specific material inspires not much beyond rejection instead. This was curiously commented by a person in the “defendors” group, saying she never really felt at ease there and was looking for ways of making it understandable, transmissible. (lot of literature on this topic 🙂 )

In an attempt to build said connection and recreate a sense of community, the group of people defending it started to organize some initatiatives around it.

  • A professor from the Academy of Fine Arts in Urbino (the nearest high education institution for art education) brought his students to the monument and gave a class on the artist, the work and its context.
  • The group installed a Christmas tree in the space, and invited via Facebook the citizens to decorate it with balls with their own names or poems or thoughts about the topic. I do not know how popular or felt this action was, but the tree had quite a lot of balls.
  • Additionally, via two local associations (one working with refugees, the second one the local committee of the national partisans association) some representatives of the group met immigrants and refugees from Gambia, Pakistan, Nigeria and Somalia in the sort-of-square the monument creates and explained the history behind the work of art and what it represented. Interestingly (or obviously) some of them were familoar about Italian recent fascist colonial history and had an idea of what the resistance the monument celebrated was.

Local elections will take place this spring in Pesaro: the mayor will run again and local politicians required already to put the removal of the monument into his program.

I am very curious to see if by then the group will have grown big and strong enough to assign a new position to the site within the city landscape or not.
One additional paradoxal aspect of the story is that Pesaro has long tradition of sculture and claims(ed?) to be a city fancing art: Giò e Arnaldo Pomodoro, Eliseo Mattiacci crossed the city when young, there is a huge community of illustrators gravitanting around it and that is basically omnipresent in the city initiatives (Emanuela Orciari, Alessandro Baronciani, Mara Cerri, Simona Mulazzani just to name a few) but the link between that heritage and its historical contexts fails to be represented.

Picture: Pesaro, potential art piece, September 2017

On building memories and personal legacies vol. II: the story, the people

Expanding on my previous post, a few more localized thoughts on memory (this story fascinates me).

Il Monumento alla Resistenza is a work by artist Nino Caruso in memory of the local Resistance movement of World war II. It was erected in 1964 in my hometown, on the 20th of September, for the 20th commemoration of the end of the war in the area, and I never saw it its original context. The monument, an iron casted semicircle with spikes, had been crafted pro bono by the local shipyards workers and was once in a key position – attached to the city center on the border of the old (and I mean XV century old) city walls, close to the train-station and inside a green area.

The aerial picture on the artists’ webpage displays something I never saw in that form because of my age. in fact, a gigantic, disproportioned bridge that goes over the train rails was built in the seventies, deviating the traffic flow and transforming that monument area into a neglected space amidst traffic and right below the new bridge. I myself have been there about 10 times in my entire life. It is loud, it is unpleasant and the monument itself is not a welcoming sight, as the fight it is commemorating was not.

The monument is still visited on the 25th of April, Italy Liberation Day, when official celebrations take place there, but it seems (I do not live there anymore) that lately it had become a dangerous (!) area were migrants would gather – and, my guess, talk? Drink? Eat?

A couple of weeks ago the city mayor (Italian PD National Wunderkind Matteo Ricci) proposed a plan not included in any previous strategic document (as far as I am aware) to improve the security of the area, deteriorated in particular by this collective. It foresaw the removal of the monument, its displacement to an unspecified area of the city to give it more value, and the creation of a parking lot where the monument was.

Feeling a mixed sense of outrage and distress, a group of citizens managed to organize within a few days a sponteanous meeting (that they call congress) in which historians, architects, urbanists. historians of art, members of different collectives spoke against this action and collected 1) over 1000 signatures 2) several alternative proposals for the requalification of the area through urbanistic measure (tunnels connecting that space with a nearby park garden around the above mentioned XV fortified walls, different traffic flows..etc.).

Faced with a mobilization the city had not seen in years, without even the intervention of the authority in charge of heritage monuments (Sovritendenza ai Beni Culturali, that had not been consulted in regard to the possibility at all of moving the monument), the mayor retired the proposal and claimed these people had not understood the potential of his ideas through a Facebook comment.

After the mayor’s communication -reported by many local newspapers obvs- many asked how it was possible that nobody had really cared before for this monument and all of a sudden this had become a major topic on which part of the citizenship had felt the need for protesting. All in all, what the mayor had proposed was to move it somewhere else in order to preserve it.

There were (are?) several factors opposing the collective to the rest of the citizens: the age of the people involved; the personal background; the idea of what heritage is; the idea of what memory is; the idea of civic duty… All these aspects affect the emotional and personal attachment to the monument.

I personally have no attachment to the monument, zero. Despite my lack of attachment, I found it miserable that it was proposed to put a parking lot in there because I do not like cars and I would expect a mayor to consider alternatives to private cars in 2018; additionally, I find despicable for a left wing mayor to exploit and resort to “security” reasons and basically istigating racism against a city collective.

From a scientific point of view I found it immensely interesting.

The same collective that has promoted the initiative for collecting signature is now trying to stick together and plans more actions aimed to tackle certain issues affecting local cultural institutions (or buildings) in different ways. The debates happen on facebook in part: they have constitued private groups for working groups so I can only report on the public ones, which are partially confusing because people are discussing issues that are too different and that would involve many different local institutions entities (Region, City hall, regional health administration etc.). Nonetheless there are several aspects I could identify from far away: the collective is mostly constituted by men, over 60s, convinced that the local policy has decayed over the last 15 years focussing on short term projects that would earn the city hall short term popularity and earnings. Above all they are guided by the deeply rooted principle that the RES PUBLICA is a duty of every citizen and needs to be performed. There is even a noble man owner of an art gallery-hotel that offer to host possible future meetings in the hotel facilities, if needed. The anagraphic distance between them and many other citizens is striking to me, but I haven’t lived there for almost 12 years now so I cannot say much about it.

The whole story is on the edge between pure philantropy and self-made strategic urban planning: the citizenship has declared itself prompt and ready to presents proposals when it disagreed with the local authority but still wanted to cooperate with it.

Discontent ignited initiatives and what was a complaining passive community is shifting into a super active action-oriented collective.

I would like to expand on the different ideas of heritage as they are displayed within this context in another post.

Picture: The former psychiatric hospital of Pesaro right in the city center, August 2018 by me – a huge complex almost entirely abandoned . From time to time at least in my childhood a few cultural events took place there. It is one of the monuments the collective wants public institutions to intervene on.

On building memories and personal legacies vol. I: the context

A few days ago I was in Barcelona attending Triàlegs, in El Born Centre de Cultura i Memòria. Ciutat i Memòria (city and memory, in Catalan) was the ambitious title of the almost three days congress. Here the program, which took me about 15 minutes to find, since it is not linked on the page of the institution which promoted it nor on the one that hosted it. Miracles of the XXI century.

The leitmotiv of all sessions was that the duty to remember exists and must be performed, and among historians, urbanists, philosophers and artists, only a few person were challenging the idea of memory as we generally have inherited it, an intagible entity that must be preserved.

To me it was surreal at moments, because the echo these words created was clashing against the environment. Memory as a univoque, monolithic thing is a very tangible element within El Born, an archeological area cointaining the rests of a urban area of XVIII century Barcelona that got destroyed in the War of Spanish Succession. The area itself generated a debate on how (and if) to preserve it that lasted for years and still is unresolved.. Yet, the conflict that this area caused was suppressed by all the speeches. Nobody addressed where we were although there we were. And the act of building memory, a performative retroactive action, was also only tangentially addressed. I was hoping for much more debate or constrasting experiences but none I got.

While listening to the speech of a representant of the local government in charge of Memory, I realized once again how often politics lacks humilty and tends to oversee details. Memory was described as a civic right towards which local politics is oriented, and it was with pride that it was said that in open public and for the joy of the citizens certain statues or monuments were tore apart or dismanteled. For me it was disturbing to hear it. The apology of Damnatio memoriae, or the elegy of power.

The need for building such discourses scares me. This manichean opposition between Memory and left (and Republic, and even Independence) against Oblivion and right is simple and dissatisfying. And dangerous.

It made seem obvious that it was possible to own memory and the right to impose it as such. The old link between memory and power was there openly displayed.

Who has the right to remove what? How do we build consensus?

In an interesting interview to a few of the speakers of the congress by a local broadcaster, professor Patrizia Dogliani said something in regard to this: collective (=public, as always in this context) memory is not easily achieved: it requires compromise, it must be democratic and must exclude antidemocratic elements / facts. She also adds something extremely relevant: monuments, due to their nature, one that makes them stand as embodiment of everlasting values, should not be relevant and should /can be removed. The conversation on facts, collective memory should take place in museums, lectures, arenas of debate.

This antithetical description of Monuments as static elements that unable the chance of discussion Versus Museums as dynamics places in which the discussion supposedly takes place, is very relevant, as I believe this not to be at all evident to people / citizens / visitors.

Over those same days, a very animated debate on a special monument was taking place in my hometown. Pesaro was the eastern limit of the Gothic line, the defensive line the Germans built in the last months of World war II. As in many Italian and european cities the dreadful memory of those years was remembered visually with street names, plaques and monuments. While I was in Barcelona, some citizens (the vast majority above 60) were organizing themselves as local / civic movement to prevent the mayor to remove the big monument remembering the local resistance.

This event was extremely useful in adding another layer of complexity to the already very tangled relation between heritage and memory, one that I tend to consider less: that of age. And since that place has not really played an important role in the city life lately, the whole story was for me also very important in showing the strategic importance of grief in this specific frame alignment.

I will go further into this Italian story into my next post.

p.s.: The best interventions in my opinion have been those of Ana María Rabe, who brought Latin America right in to the room and shut us iup in 5 minutes describing the invention of heritage and memory in Medellín, and the dialogue between Xavier Ribas and Carles Guerra, because it was pure poetry, an empathic conversation. Check Ribas’ Invisible structure 1 & 2!

Pic: the roof of El Born, summer 2017, by me

Tactile emotions I

I understand museum display as a translation of codes from one system of symbolic signs into another. This has been performed since the XIX century with a one-directional top down approach constructing taxonomies, usually described in written form, while hierarchies within the displayed heritage were built through space construction mostly.
The emotional and the tangible dimensions of heritage (historic, natural and artistic) and its effects have just started to be explored.
Although I acknowledge that museums narratives cannot be neutral due to the museums’ own essence, I wonder if what is understood as participatory museum is a way of solving this dilemma. The outsourcing of content creation to external actors is what leaves me perplex the most, as I see it as a form of delegating responsibility on the exposed objects and therefore their translation possibilities. I believe this form of participation to be a two-edged sword: while attempting to be inclusive by targeting usually under-represented social segments and engaging them in a new and deeper way, this practice 1) is not as straightforward as it could seem, since it replicates hyerarchic patterns in most cases, as it is the museum that requests participation and has the final word 2) leaves an empty space on ownerships of the contents, as the institutions pretend in front of their visitos to be a blank space in which other agents operate.
Who can be held accountable for the displayed content? To whom does the displayed heritage belong? To the museum or the temporary curators?
If museums narratives fail at being inclusive regardless of the means they employ and museum as institutios will therefore never become a neutral scenario of representation, what is the purpose of museums altogether nowadays?
After the burnt of the Brazilian National Museum a few weeks ago, the Guardian wrote what proves to be the factor on which museums socially rely:
Some held out hope that the collection might have been digitised, but this possibility gave little solace to those whose identities were shaped and bolstered by the tangible presence of sacred or historically significant items.

Tactile emotions – the wonder museums generates in us is only achieved through this.

Last June I joined a guided tour of El Born CCM, Barcelona*. The tour ended with the guide showing us a display of bombs fallen on the city during the War of Spanish succession – the historical moment the museum focusses on. The guide told us that three bombs per habitant fell on the city in 1714. The bombs he was talking about were there in front of us and he visitors that were with me were not 100% serene about it.

Not the same as walking through the Nazi concentration camp of Sachsenhausen, where instead I saw people calmly eating a sandwich next to the Genickschussanlage, which is the spot where Nazi shot people in the neck fyi.

In both cases I was very annoyed (in the latter, upset): in Barcelona because the rethoric of David against Goliath the guide was using was a bit too much, in Oranienburg because I couldn’t (and still can’t) grasp how people stomachs could open in that place.

But in gh first case the heritage was overwhelming, in the latter the overwhelming heritage left the visitors possibly untouched, although tact and sight were the most involved senses in the visit.

Altogether, the crucial aspect should be that awareness that visitors should be overwhelming entities for museums.
The universe of emotions related to tangible heritage and their untranslatabilities is what we should concentrate on, as they generate conflicts of immense proportions in individuals and are the reason why visitors still go to museums. I believe that nowadays there is a strong need to show weaknesses to create emotional bonds within broad society and museums are no exceptions: on the contrary, thanks to their authority they have the potential to do so. Facing the fact that museums will stay systems of control, I ask myself how can a museum (digitised or physical) be transparent toward its visitors and show its partiality. What would happen if visitors were provided with emotional maps relating to their feelings and the exhibits before entering the exhibition space, a guide of emotions instead of a table of contents? It would be again an ever changing manipulative narrative, but it would be honest in its methods and this seems to be something museums have fail to be over centuries.


How could we though regulate the potential surveillance system that this would generate? Could we at all?

Can you imagine what it would mean to undergo an emotional screening before entering a museum and be shown only selected content, like a Netflix sort of experience?

I am interested in studying how contingent emotional frames are originated and can be considered responsible for long term awareness, and how spaces of knowledge exchange could be reshaped.

*disclaimer: my research is about this center.

Dicks, B. (2016) “The Habitus of Heritage: a Discussion of Bourdieu’s Ideas for Visitor Studies in Heritage and Museums”, Museums & Society 14 (1), pp. 52-64
Lynch B., Alberti S.J.M.M (2010) “Legacies of prejudice: racism, co-production and radical trust in the museum” In Museum Management and Curatorship Vol. 25, No. 1, March 2010, pp. 13-35
Smith L., Campbell G. (2015) “The elephant in the room: heritage, affect, emotion” in W. Logan, M Nic Craith, U. Kockel (2015) A Companion to Heritage Studies, Wiley-Blackwell
Uzzell, DL and Ballantyne, R. (1998) „Heritage that Hurts: Interpretation In A Post Modern World‟ in DL Uzzell and R. Ballantyne (eds.) Contemporary Issues in Heritage and Environmental Interpretation: Problems and Prospects, London: The Stationery Office. pp 152-171
Zubrzycki G. (ed.) (2018) National Matters: Materiality, Culture, and Nationalism, Stanford: Stanford University Press

Picture: Budești Josani church, Romania, Unesco Heritage site, 7 pm mass, August 2018, by me.

Leggere la materialità

Nell’estate del 2010 avevo concluso il mio primo anno di laurea specialistica (o magistrale? boh, non ho mai capito la differenza). Il corso di laurea aveva un nome molto pomposo ed era Máster Oficial en estudios avanzados de museos y patrimonio histórico-artístico *.

In Spagna credo di non aver mai fatto un esame orale in stile italiano, tanti seminari e presentazioni, ma mai un orale. Scrivevamo i nostri bei saggetti, consegnavamo e a volte presentavamo. Tutto entro giugno. Non so nemmeno se ci fosse modo di lasciarsi cose per settembre. In altre parole, avevo un sacco di tempo libero. L’estate si srotolava, mi muovevo tra Argüelles, Malasaña e Lavapiés, tornare a casa di notte al fresco lungo Gran Vía era la mia quotidianità, e durante il giorno oltre a lavoricchiare, studiavo, scrivevo e mi facevo un sacco di domande curiose. Poi alla fine di luglio me ne andai a Berlino per un paio di mesi a studiare tedesco.

Nel gennaio del 2008 Manuel Borja-Villel, fino a quel momento direttore della Fundación Antoni Tàpies a Barcellona, era stato nominato direttore del MNCARS, il Reina Sofía. Non fosse stato così, sono sicura che le mie lezioni specialmente con certi professori, v. sotto, sarebbero state diverse, meno entusiaste e partecipi. Credo che loro stessi ne avessero voglia.

Quell’estate il Reina aveva un programma di esposizioni e attività che era un macello, una bomba. Di una modernità per i canoni spagnoli (e ancor più madrileñi) dirompente, paragonabile secondo me al programma della Haus der Kulturen der Welt di Berlino. Rendendo un gran omaggio al proprio nome, centro d’arte, presentava al pubblico una fucina di riflessioni totalmente fuori tempo massimo rispetto a altri paesi, e pregnanti nel loro essere contemporanee. Pura Spagna.

Mi è estremamente difficile spiegare i temi delle mostre di quell’estate, tanto sono intricati: pochi formati classici e nessun vero nome grande. Principio Potosì e l’arte coloniale (che scopro ora era davvero una cooperazione con la HKW di Berlino), una associazione di idee random, sperimentalismi architettonici latinoamericani.

Ricordo di essere nella piazza antistante una sera, assistendo a uno spettacolo di danza credo del Veranos de la Villa, e di rendermi conto che il gran poster che occupava come sempre la facciata del Reina fosse la rappresentazione di un rizoma. Non si capiva n u l l a. Lo ricordo in bianco e nero con nuclei e frecce che indicavano connessioni logiche e neanche temporali.

Purtroppo non ho foto di quel poster e internet non mi aiuta. Iniziai a pensare a quanto fosse bello trovarsi lì in questo momento in cui il postmodernismo era arrivato in Spagna, in ritardo, come diverse altre cose, e sarebbe stato affascinante scrivere la tesi analizzando i foglietti di sala, i poster, la comunicazione intera del museo, per svelare un cambio di paradigma. Nella frescura estiva di Berlino e del Grimm Zentrum buttai giù diversi indici, liste di parole chiave, bibliografia. Scrivevo un sacco.

Poi buttai via tutto perché ebbi molta paura di non sapere cosa farmene del descrivere una correlazione tra il livello filosofico e quello materiale, indicato dalle variabili della comunicazione. Avevo timore di perdermi nelle letture, di affondare in Deleuze e non sapere come gestirlo, e mi sembrava fine a se stesso. Quindi scelsi di concentrarmi sui finanziamenti pubblici a musei cercando di definire le differenze nei profili delle politiche culturali di tre amministrazioni locali perché era più facile e pratico.

Molti anni dopo, non trovando tregua e avendo quell’idea sul postmoderno che arriva in Spagna, sono in quella fase in cui quando leggo articoli che parlano dello sfasamento culturale spagnolo dico “ah vedi, non era del tutto fuori fuoco”. Il ritardo spagnolo è la sua fortuna, in parte, dicono alcuni. La politica culturale di un’amministrazione è l’espressione concreta di una teoria, e i musei sono una chiave di lettura, un elemento di studio con delle variabili. Leggerne la materialità è un esercizio complicato e dominare gli strumenti teorici per farlo è la cosa che più mi costa, di sicuro perché preferii i finanziamenti a Deleuze all’epoca.

Se cerchi o hai dei suggerimenti di lettura, scrivimi!

Foto: IVAM, Valencia, maggio 2018

*cercando il link ho scoperto che la UCM non ha ancora fatto far pace ai prof dei due bandi. Il programma è totalmente diverso, e i miei docenti preferiti non ci sono più: Lola Jiménez Blanco, Estrella de Diego e Fernando Checa. Checa mi suggerí di leggere Crónica de una seducción de Joseba Zulaika un paio di settimane dopo aver iniziato il corso. Andando a trovare il mio professore della UB nel suo studio un paio di settimane fa lo vidi in cima a una pila di libri in terra. Click.

p.s: con molta tenerezza trovo una delle tante email d’amore a docenti mandate nel corso degli anni risalente a quell’estate, con tutti i suoi errori e la sua sfacciataggine. Il grassetto è di oggi:

La semana pasada he estado en la presentación del libro Principio Potosí-Reverso, y la verdad es que fue bastante interesante, no tanto por el tema del libro y de la exposición, más bien para los concepto expuestos y la línea del museo, No sé si haya sido grabada, pero con solo buscar los términos utilizados por los ponentes, se notaría la cantidad de “oblicuo”, “hibridez”, “transcultural” “margen” “periferia-centro” y etc.
De todas formas, sería interesante también saber quien ha proyectado y a partir de que premisas teóricas (aunque se puedan intuir), la gráfica del cartel principal de todas las exposiciones temporales, dónde aparecen decenas de flechas que conectan las exposiciones entre sí.
Es un manifesto desorientador y potente a la vez, yo creo.
No tengo las ideas muy claras sobre como estructurar el trabajo, pero espero algo se desarrolle de manera más coherente con más estudio e investigación.”

Il Louvre e liberté, égalité e Beyoncé per davvero

Jay Z e Beyoncé hanno girato un video al Louvre e tra tutti gli ah e eh delle recensioni al video che si susseguono da un paio di settimane, il Louvre (quello di Parigi) ha proposto una cosa super pop e che è probabile sia la ragione principale per cui il museo ha acconsentito a far girare il video: il tour del museo con le opere del video.

Come riporta l’agenzia France Presse non è il primo tour tematico del Louvre ispirato ai video e alla loro iconografia. Tanto meno è la prima iniziativa di un museo che si basi su riferimenti cinematografici, musicali o simili, come esaminava un paio di mesi fa il Washington post. Nina Simon lo analizzava su Museum 2.0 poco dopo l’uscita dell’articolo e le iniziative lì (ivi?!) citate, tra le altre la sua, aka del Santa cruz Museum of Art & History, e descriveva quelle dei musei “grandi” (da cui esclude, giustamente, il proprio lavoro) come una pratica barbina di audience development. E così scrive:

What does this list have in common? Youth. Urbanity. Affluence. Whiteness. Reading this article made me wonder: what are the greatest diversification issues in museums today? When we talk about the need to engage new audiences, who are we primarily talking about? This article implies that the most important new audiences are white, urban millenials with money to spend.

Serviva al Louvre usare Jay Z e Beyoncé per attrarre visitatori? Come sempre, che visitatori vogliamo?

Che l’iniziativa del Louvre sia una cosa superflua (sarebbe fantastico (per me) conoscere la variazioni di pubblico prima e dopo) a me salta un po’ agli occhi, perché, se è vero che la metà degli otto milioni di visitanti del Louvre hanno già meno di trent’anni, sono i tempi così duri che ce ne vogliono degli altri? O è solo un vezzo?

Mi affascina leggere che il Louvre non abbia dichiarato quanto sia stato il proprio cache per far girare il video (anche se immagino spunterà fuori a un certo punto, in qualche noioso documento di fine anno), e mi fa tenerezza perché immagino le infinite presentazioni sul ReturnOnInvestment che il video avrebbe portato al museo, dato che in questo caso poi l’investimento è tutto di immagine. Un’immagine per un’immagine. E considerando che di sicuro hanno fatto i loro conti per bene, mi viene da pensare a un paio di autori e al ritorno dei musei ai parchi tematici, alla competizione che i musei hanno sviluppato con le istituzioni che avevano a modello. Mi chiedo come saranno queste visite, quale saranno gli script dei contenuti e le opere che realmente si mostreranno.

Mi chiedo quanto si impiegherà a spostare la Gioconda a Charles de Gaulle, un progetto di cui analizzammo qualche dettaglio quasi esattamente un anno fa a Berlino con amici di amici. Si parlava delle mostre, della noncuranza con cui le opere vengono trattate per essere esposte il più possibile in più posti possibile, della passione viscerale dei visitatori per vedere l’originale ma rimanerne poi delusi data l’ottima qualità delle versioni digitali delle stesse opere cui sono (siamo) abituati. E appunto ci immaginammo la meraviglia di spostare la Gioconda. Per me si trovava appesa al centro di un edificio cilindrico, avvolta da tapis roulant da aeroporto, tra un terminal e l’altro, e chi era interessato a vederla, non sarebbe entrato più a Parigi ma avrebbe fatto semplicemente scalo in aeroporto e via. Puf.

Spero la porteranno via presto, e chissà magari i musei saranno circhi di immaginari collettivi per davvero, apertamente e con gusto.

Foto: il museo espone il parco di divertimenti: mostra fotografica di bambini locali del secolo scorso, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Messico, luglio 2017. La bambina vera è a sinistra, fyi.

p.s: Il tour che ora proporranno (di cui non trovo ancora traccia almeno nel sito, su facebook nemmeno) dovrebbe aver quindi per oggetto le opere del video, facendo leva su un postcolonialismo pop che vorrei tanto sapere come verrà presentato. Ci collegheranno l’attualità di Parigi? Francese? Europea? O si parlerà solo di quanto grandiosamente il Louvre sia stato un paladino di libertém

p.p.s: i riferimenti bibliografici sono ovviamente Tony Bennett e Douglas Crimp

p.p.s.: notevole secondo me è anche il cambio di frames di narrazione storica in un video facebook di Al Jazeera in cui si parla della colonizzazione europea da parte di Napoleone. Certo, sentito e studiato in contesti accademici. Ma in un video di Facebook di Al Jazeera?! Magnifico.