Artistic Urban Commons or re-thinking art in urban spaces

Cities are fundamental sites of creativity and art. It has always been like that. However, the recent waves of privatization and over-legislation, especially from the ‘80s onwards , have drastically reduced the spaces for that very same creativity and art. London, as emerged in the Guardian’s article is possibly the biggest example we have in Europe. The dominant approach to the governance of the city contributed in the change of our urban areas. The landscape in itself changed. This tendency that created ‘legislated city’, or as Andrea Mubi Brighenti, in his ‘Urban Intersitces: the Aesthetics and the Politics of the In-Between’ says, ‘lawscapes’, is becoming more and more unacceptable. In the field of developing new approaches to the governance of the city and of its spaces there is a new tendency that is gaining momentum. and LabGov is a proud pioneer in Italy.

Public spaces, especially in our European tradition, serve as democratic and multi-use fora that are free and open. The role they play in the development of ideas, political views, communities, business and interactions among citizens is second to no one. Indisputable evidence is how the more authoritarian regimes are afraid of public spaces, see the case of the Napoleonic III transformation of Paris, with its gigantic boulevards; or Buenos Aires, or many other capitals of former authoritarian regimes. Urban commons, although defined in economic jargon, are not that different. To re-think art in urban spaces, thus, is not only to satisfy people’s aesthetical lust. It has to be considered as one of the main guideline of a complete and drastic change in the way cities are run, and our democracy feed.

There are countless example to date, of citizens and artists, that de facto had the upper hand in the struggle for the governance of abandoned places, which are in many cases the perfect scenario for an artistic regeneration. To some extent, it is possible to say, that it was the response to the economic crisis; to the shrinking cities’ budgets, that made impossible for the government of the city to maintain and regulate public spaces. Funnily enough this transition, although ‘facilitated’, by the shortcoming of the official governance, it was in the first place hampered by the very same cities that are always afraid of losing the grasp in what they still consider as their sphere of influence, and legitimate power.

As already said, though, the wind has changed and artistic commons are becoming more and more popular and socially accepted by all. All things considered, their role should be of a powerful leverage for a broader change in the governance of urban commons. In Rome, for example, there is recently a complete new approach to urban arts. 40 international street artists were invited to modify the aesthetic of some periphery, usually the places forgotton by the official governance. So, be aware and open your eyes, you could run into an artistic performance just around the corner!

Beni urbani artistici: ripensare l’arte negli spazi pubblici

Le città sono da sempre i maggiori centri culturali e artistici di una comunità. Noi italiani in particolare ne dovremmo sapere qualcosa. Purtroppo l’ondata di privatizzazioni, e in generale di legiferazione, che hanno avuto come oggetto le nostre città, ha finito con il ridurre drasticamente gli spazi liberi e aperti alla creatività e all’arte.

Fortunatamente qualcosa sta cambiando, e ormai da qualche anno. E’ infatti partita un’ondata altrettanto forte ma in senso opposto a quella precedente. LabGov, ne è tra gli orgogliosi pionieri in Italia.

I cittadini, associati o meno, stanno riprendendo in mano gli spazi pubblici e gli spazi urbani caduti in disuso. Esplorarne le ragioni, significa in qualche modo, ragionare del fallimento conclamato di un modello organizzativo. La crisi economica in questo ha avuto il suo classico effetto di acceleratore di eventi.

La restrizione dei budget comunali in particolare ha finito con il costringere la governance classica della città ad abbandonare molti spazi, lasciandoli in disgrazia. I cittadini dunque sono tornati protagonisti, e il fenomeno di ri-appropriazione, o meglio di restituzione a se stessi è solo iniziato.

This is the link used as a source and where the picture has been taken.