caffe plural 13.08.08

What have we done during these four weeks?

What could we do and how could we do it?

* The artists of Summer Drafts are not interested in representing something, they do not produce objects, paintings, sculptures, they are not even performers in the sense of actors or musicians with a public. They work together with people, but these people become participants, they do not remain a public. The artists involved in Summer Drafts work not for people, and not even by means of people, as if “people” were an artistic tool in their hands, but together with people, and together with them they have experimented, during four weeks, the “drafts” of the project’s title, that is, a series of not completely defined forms of sociability.

* These experiments are transversal, that is, they break through different social categories, different cultural identities, different roles. For example, they break through categories of cultural differences based on nationality, differences based on the fact that one is born in this or that country. To break through categories does not mean that those differences do not exist, that they do not operate, it means not to take them as natural and essential, so that we can turn away from the idea that people are constituted on the base of single and enclosed identities.

* With Summer Drafts we didn’t want to, as often happens in the case of intercultural project, to celebrate one or more foreign cultures, the aim was not to make known a (“foreign”) culture to an (“autochthonous”) one, perhaps using the symbols of national cultures (music, food, artefacts of a foreign country), offering these symbols to citizens depositary of the local culture. Cultural symbols are very different from people. To eat (know) Colombian empanadillas is one thing, another is to know a person coming from Colombia, and talk together with her, and do something together with her, like, for example, cooking Colombian empanadillas. Between a person born in Colombia and an empanadilla there is a remarkable difference, and to take empanadillas for people is greatly limiting what people can do together. Of course, we have to recognize that, of the two activities, to eat an empanadilla is much easier.

* For Summer Drafts we wanted to work together with people, and transversally, without making of national cultures a subject of work. Hence, the artists have proposed to deal with something which goes beyond a particular culture, and also beyond a single person. They dealt with desires, with stories to tell, with what is missing from our lives, with skills that we learn from each other every day. These are elements that constitute a person, but that also go in other directions, breaking through people. It is possibly for this reason that the Committee for Radical Diplomacy has delivered letters to an addressee who did not know the sender: the missing or required thing was going always in different directions, away from the boundaries of a person that we know already, as we know it already.

* Asking people to think what is missing, or to think a sensation that is missing in the city or to me, is an invite to think and formulate what we desire, but also to devise a critique related to what is lacking. This twofold aspect has characterized the project: many activities have been playful, but not only playful, the point was not just to spend a pleasurable afternoon together, and already the way in which a beautiful afternoon was spent had something more than a beautiful afternoon spent together. From this perspective Summer Drafts has been more than a handful of appointments distributed over four weeks.

* “Drafts” means, amongst other things, sketch, and what has been done together with the artists has been sketches, or even better, sketches of examples, sketches of models. Hence, the summer drafts of the title are examples, or models, in the sense that they can be repeated, and they are sketches in the sense that they are not rigid as examples or models, they have not to be repeated as such: they are unstable examples, emerged as proposals and then constituted by the artists together with the participants. From the beginning, for the artists as well it was important to think Summer Drafts as the beginning of something, as a series of experimentations that could be taken up for the participants, or someone else, to do something else with it. We could talk again about informal learning: the experience of these encounters has thought something to the artists, to the participants, to the coordinators. We could carry on using this learning and this experience. The learning has not happened through books or explanations, but through a collective making, through a doing together, and this is what has occurred every time: we have been doing things together, collectively.

* We have done things together, and the collective dimension of doing has been important. There were not artists on one side and public on the other, but people that do things together where the respective roles were crossed. The project was initially thought as a “Summer School” between brackets, with artists that would have proposed a series of activities to a group of participants previously formed. We did not manage to form a group of participants before the beginning of the project. In a way we could say that in these weeks, rather than a proper group, a draft of a group has been constituted, and in this drafts take part the artists and the organization as well as part of a sketched group. Perhaps there is no need for a group in order to do things collectively. There is no need for a group that you enrol in, a group with a defined number and boundaries. Many people have arrived and left, a few have participated from the beginning to the end, more people got involved, some others might come back. Hence, this draft of a group could be taken as a draft of example in itself. The group-draft keeps constituting itself, without concentrating, consolidating, but looking always a bit far away, in other directions, outside itself, involving other people that we might think would not fit into this at all. We have started with the idea of involving in this project intercultural associations of Bolzano. We could continue along this line, involving other kind of associations as well. As Isabel said, it would be important to involve more people that are not part of the “intercultural world”. We could involve people that we always wanted to involve into something, even without realizing that, it could become an occasion for doing that, as I did myself whilst organizing the project. I lived half a life in Bolzano and it is only in these last few months that I have met people I desired meeting, and that I didn’t even think I would have the desire to meet. Not only I met them, we have also done things together. Also, as Daniele said, what this Summer Drafts has done is to use a great number of resources available on the territory, even the more improbable, those that would never come to your mind in the first place.

* Collectivity is not intended here as a series of persons, 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 5. The Committee for Radical Diplomacy asked several people to think what is missing, and to the same people something missing to another person arrived. The starting point was individual people: I personally miss this or that. But soon we shifted from a single person to a couple, actually, to a double couple: the letter of each person was sent to someone, and this someone received the letter of someone else, without knowing the identity of sender and receiver. The day of the workshop we then shifted from the couples to a collectivity: someone responded to someone else, but often involving all the others.

* Perhaps the term “art” as we know it has little to do with what we have done. Some people said that rather than art this seemed something like “life”, it was rather like living. We have done something together but this something was not an artistic product. But the term “life” is no less saturated than the term “art”. Certainly, creativity has emerged during these experiments in collective making, but not because the aim was to demonstrate that at the end of the day we are all creative. Even when it comes to the artists, their aim was never to create an artistic product, for example for Amy the aim was not to make a video, but to provoke something across people, using the video as a tool. Amongst the things proposed to continue together after the provisional end of Summer Drafts, this suggestion has been made: since amongst the participants there are so many creative people, who do not use their creativity professionally but are good at singing, dancing, acting, writing poetry, why not organizing a project to utilize all these abilities? Maybe an answer comes from the story that Nino told at the workshop on informal learning: when he used to work for the Boy Scouts there was a system of title awarding according to which who was good at singing received the sticker “singer” to be applied on the sleeve of the shirt, who was good at acting the sticker “actor” and so on. But to the boy scout that was good at acting Nino used to give the title only if he was able to teach acting to someone who did not know how to act. This seems a more interesting model: instead of reinforcing the group around a bundle of specialized virtuous people, to then invite a public of art lovers equally specialized, we could use our different abilities to do something collectively across personal identities (this is me and I’m good at singing), so that perhaps could end up singing those that never possibly imagined themselves singing.

* I would like to suggest this right now, since some of you are already part of associations that are lucky enough to have already a space, Latinoamerica y su gente and Donne Nissa’ are two examples, you could think about using these spaces if you need one, and you could think of using the name and the experience of these associations to ask for funding, as I did with Lungomare. If we talk of spaces to be used, there are others that have been proposed during Ci Mancherebbe Altro, one of them is the ex Gorio refugee centre, a space that maybe would not come too easily to mind: when it comes to the problem of a space where to gather and do activities, which has been repeatedly emerged, a bit of “creativity” is certainly helpful, as Franco La Cecla demonstrated by suggesting to use in different ways spaces already available. Another fantastic resource that Summer Drafts has been using is the radio program Mi Tierra! Organized by Latinoamerica y su gente and hosted by Radio Tandem, and Andreas and Isabel renew their availability for the radio program to be used. In general Radio Tandem could be a precious resource to do things together.

* We have discussed the proposal of Valetina and Romina of organizing a drive-in. The initial idea has been twisted and overturned in various ways. Valentina and Romina have proposed the drive-in as something missing, to which, during Ci Mancherebbe Altro, Angelika and Daniele responded, suggesting to organize a radio “drive-in” collaborating with Radio Tandem. It has been discussed whether to do the drive-in with cars or bikes, or other means of transport, whether to do it in a quiet place to better listen to the radio, or take advantage of sonic interruptions and tolling of bells as moments for people to start talking to each other. It has been proposed an itinerant drive-in bringing the radio equipment around, it has been thought of calling the radio, of using an audio book, of making a radio program on purpose, of recording voices to be broadcasted. We have been looking for a thematic to deal with and it has proposed a drive-in of dreams, with people telling their dreams, dreamt whilst asleep or when awake. Towards the end it has also been criticized that the initial idea was taken into pieces, and that we did not reach a conclusion. But I think these discussions are important, it is not a matter of destroying an idea but for it to simmer and ferment, to then putting it together again, and this is something that might require more than ten minutes. At least with Summer Drafts this is how things have happened.