The third chapter of C.R.I.S.I the project takes the earthquake as a metaphor of the crisis.It’s composed by two parts:a radio interview with Radio Strike, and extracts from C’è un Tremore a publication of images and testimonials from Ferrara inhabitants affected by the 2012 earthquake. It was developed on June 22th in the framework of Borderline, Festival delle Etichette Indipendenti at Centro Sociale La Resistenza in Ferrara. Terremoto Sociale was an open talk performed and broadcasted online coordinated by Antonio Dondi with the support of Radio Strike collective. “Strike” is a ska “patchanka” band from Ferrara active since 1986. (more info at www.strikebaraonda.com)
Following excerpts from TERREMOTO SOCIALE (Social Earthquake) interview which took place on June 22 during Borderline, a festival of independent labels, at Centro Sociale “La Resistenza” in Ferrara, Italy.
RADIO STRIKE: What is Radio Strike? Radio Strike is an open forum, in which we, starting February 2013, have invited others to help us build this platform: a project which is autonomous, social, and above all in and of communication, which brings us to seeking understanding where problems lie. We’re here to examine problems. And probably within these problems, these issues, is our greatest resource. I’m excited to have you here today at Borderline.
Background music: London Calling, The Clash
RADIO STRIKE: Let’s get back to via della Resistenza 34, Radio Strike. We’re here with Fede and Loreto of Grupo Etcetera. They’re here in Bologna as part of an international project, and while here, collaborated to realize C.R.I.S.I. — a project about which we’ll discuss more of later on. They’re old friends of mine, and they came to Italy when the economy of Argentina collapsed. One thing worth mentioning is that when we invited them to remain in Italy, where the economic crisis was still some ways off, their response was, “no, we’ll return to our country because it’s a moment we’ve been waiting for for years and we absolutely do not want to miss it.” Now, after almost ten years since that moment for them, in a certain dramatic perspective – and perhaps, at the same time, the right moment to create a new cultural movement which distances itself from the logic of the global economic market – they’ve arrived to our country where we’re going through the exact same situation. So – Federico, Loreto, Etcetera, “Errorists” and Radio Strike.
ETCETERA: Well, hello to all of our listeners, local and international. And yes, like you said before, for us there’s this situation to constantly see in the mirror – the crisis situation that we lived through in Argentina in 2001, which we’re seeing again in Greece, Spain, Portugal and so many other places, and here in Italy our
feeling is that we’re still in the preamble – at the opening to an even deeper crisis. For us it’s not easy to find a situation where it’s, for example, a so-called crisis of representation – when trust in democratic representatives starts to hollow out or lack a deep sense of feeling like this level of physical participation. We now see the Italian situation like a big question, and for us to develop a project on the crisis is a responsibility that also applies to our own situation – not only for you and others here, in Emilia-Romagna. We’ve been living in Bologna for more then a month and have noticed a common symptom; one is the crisis of representation, then there’s absence of any vision of where things are going – it’s unclear what the future holds, and this brings a sensation of confusion; like getting thrown off-track. You can see that consumerism is still strong, and what we are saying is that when the crisis deepens, you’ll see the real economy. For us the metaphor between a social earthquake, and an earthquake of the earth, of our planet, is a metaphor which is fitting for the situation in Emilia-Romagna. So, after ten years, it’s important to come back here and talk about this metaphor and confront what’s lacking, what can be done in the context of an approaching crisis; to create social antibodies ready to resist this situation.
RADIO STRIKE: You’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head. Personally, as an individual and family-man with two sons. May 20th we were at our house in San Carlo – the Ferrara village known for the phenomenon of soil liquefaction, and practically speaking we lost everything. We lost furniture, serenity – I can say that the analogy of the crisis as a social earthquake is perfect. The thing that struck me most of all in the days following – aside from the permanent state of panic of having concretely felt the possibility of losing your life in a moment… …which seemed almost impossible – was the fact that what developed in the 20 days following the earthquake was something incredibly wonderful, which was the synergy among individuals. Suddenly, an event – in this case geological – made individuals find themselves as equals. It nullified those social differences, those political divides, and most of all they were united by an emotional state; a collective emotional state. Incredible things were born; cooperation – individuals that found themselves with nothing, in the street, with this sensation of panic and instability, and they organized themselves. I remember very well, that on social network pages I began asking others to fully analyze what they were experiencing – that is, “Is the government necessary?” “Have you noticed that we’ve managed to do on our own what local governments haven’t?” (which was to
organize ourselves together in an state of emergency and instability) So, in the seven days following the quake, before Civil Defense arrived – Civil Defense which we know very well implement an ancient roman code; they set up a camp, a military camp, because they know that, in these cases, the situation can get out of hand – that week was amazing. Spontaneous camps were created – the people self-organized. The people distributed food, distributed clothes, water, and felt an incredibly strong sense of closeness even with distant communities who were sending everything that was needed. I should emphasize that the earthquake, like a social earthquake, stuck its finger in the wound and made us understand that our land has been so exploited in the name of money and the global economy that it’s not longer able to satisfy the basic needs of individuals – which are precisely that of eating and drinking. If suddenly, by some magic spell, supermarkets disappeared, we wouldn’t be able to survive. First of all, nobody would know how to cultivate land. Land use has been slowly redeveloped by landowners. Agrarian methods which came into place after the collapse of the fascist state were made irrelevant by the fact that today they’ve recreated the plantation – and with them the intensive production which has devastated the productivity of the soil, so that today only certain types of seeds, treated in a specific way, can survive and produce. The same can be said for our waterways, which at one time were populated by fish – not exotic but nonetheless edible – like catfish, eels, sea bass, sturgeon, pike – a variety of fish, potential food, which has disappeared. And what does this prove? A few things: First is that we don’t need government. We can organize ourselves successfully with common sense. Second, our land is no longer in any state to provide us with what we need, the basics – food and water. The water is polluted, the land no longer productive and we’re at the mercy of multinational corporations (and at what price? And it’s here where we could open an enormous chapter…)
ETCETERA: Well, what can be said after this reflection on what solidarity means today… Of a solidarity that’s not just charity or that of Non-Governmental Organizations which are found stealing constantly. In fact, Non-Governmental Organizations have taken over the the role of the state in this neo-liberal period, and we’re a bit intimidated by those who expect the conflict, the crisis, to continue, by those who need this social malaise to go on in order to continue profitting on misery and struggle. But there’s a solidarity that grows, like we’re seeing now in Istanbul and Brazil; an unprecedented solidarity. A word has returned which seemed to have disappeared from the postmodern vocabulary, which is “revolution,” and now it comes in different labels, with different manifestations. A problem like that feeling of having lost everything – we felt it in Buenos Aires, just as all over Argentina, and it lasted two or three years. In that case it wasn’t a question of geology but connected to the macro-economy, and lead to the moment where the idea of representing a country became a game of representation; lacking any real connection between citizens and those representing them. We’re seeing this crisis of representation here as well, alongside this feeling of solidarity and social responsibility (and not the type of “Ok, we’ll come and do something for you all but then we’re leaving,” but continues to move forward.) Like you were saying earlier, we don’t need the State. We’re autonomous, we can organize ourselves, but what can be done when economic resources – the concentration of the Italian economy is comprised of various monopolies held by a handful of people? How does Emilia-Romagna rise up in front of a supposedly responsible government?
RADIO STRIKE: Another thing: When we foster a new think tank, where are the philosophers? Where are the free thinkers? They’re all on somebody else’s payroll, and what’s the risk? The risk is talking to no one. What’s lacking, in my opinion, is a vision of the future – today this place is the fruit of the imaginations of others. We’ve imagined things and built them, and we’re here, in direct web-radio. There’s a little festival of independent labels – we’ve just decided that “labels” is a term we’ll abolish from our vocabulary – we have our Argentinian friends here, and so we’ve done something already.
ETCETERA: Just one small thing. For us, what you say is interesting because it’s a parallel with what happened in Argentina when the economy collapsed. There was the same situation; to occupy the job market to rediscover its economy and how to manage that space. Now that it’s back to normal we’re in, as our government likes to call it, “friendly capitalism.” A softer, more social capitalism. They used all of the thought and imagination of the social movement which was used to reinforce the power of representation with a very populist government which is nonetheless entirely capitalist. What you say about our land has been forgotten, and now in Argentina we have the largest Monsanto factories-plantation in the world. We’ve become an enemy of the indigenous peoples who need
the land. For example, in Bolivia, they’ve eliminated Monsanto because natives need something from what they eat, as what they eat also has a cultural component/is also cultural (like what you were saying about fish), and this has happened. Now our president talks frequently about the social project, but at the same time every speech includes the idea of consumption. For this reason what you’re saying is very interesting: the need to lose this idea of consumption, to return to being normal people again, to be human, to be collective, to break free from the class system, because capitalism is a constant crisis. Capitalism needs crisis to be able to move forward.
RADIO STRIKE: Coming up is more music here at Radio Strike…
Background music: “Se viene el estallido” by Bersuit Vergarabat (2000)
Here the Publication of TERREMOTO SOCIALE composed by fragments of Radio Strike interview and extracts from “C’è un Tremore” book.
C’È UN TREMORE
A year has now passed since the first violent quake that shook the Italian region of Emilia. While local and national news media continue to follow reconstruction efforts, the earthquake – in the strict sense of the term – has disappeared from everyday conversation. It’s no longer like the weeks following the initial seismic event, when anytime and everywhere – whether talking with family or strangers, at work, down at the bar, or on a train – the one question people had to ask each other was “where were you during the earthquake?” It was a question repeated hundreds of times and finding just as many answers: strange tales, self-deprecating anecdotes, emotional episodes; some heart-rending, others humorous. “C’è un tremore,” a compilation of personal narratives, was written with the idea to preserve evidence of the earthquake as collective experience. The book, from Cento publisher Freccia d’Oro, brings together thirty stories inspired by real events, alongside photos which accompany the text. All stories were written by Licia Vignotto and Giuseppe Malaspina, who conceived and developed the project. Images, however, were provided in response to an open invite for anyone who wished to support and contribute to the project to post to facebook page, “Progettotremore,” which is still currently operating. As a compilation dedicated to the documentation of incidental events, the authors called on participants to submit visual content with likewise commonplace origins. Readers of this book will not see the same harrowing details nor images of devastation which filled newspapers for months. Instead, they will find fragments of the everyday; a narration shared by many voices, and amateur photography that speaks volumes.
All proceeds from C’è un tremore are used towards restoring the Cento library, which is still in a state of disrepair and currently closed to the public. “The book is primarily a way to preserve a memory,” note the authors, “and it seemed fitting that it should be used for a place that, every day, serves this purpose; that we can keep track of who we were, and who we are.” If you would like to purchase a copy of C’è un tremore, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or order a copy online from any major bookstore. Above are selected samples from the book: C’è un tremore, La tazzina, Radiocarcere (written by Licia Vignotto), Alimentari e abbigliamento (written by Giuseppe Malaspina). Pictures by Jimmy Michele Valieri.
Fotografie di Jimmy Michele Valieri
C’È UN TREMORE “Wake up.” The american girl sat upright in an unmade bed and nudged the shoulder of her boyfriend, Luca, who appeared to have no intention of waking up. “Wake up, Luca” she yells a little louder, her slender hand upon his shoulder. Nothing yet. Sleeping too deeply, a Saturday night out ending just a few hours earlier, his face buried into his pillow and disheveled hair tossed about. When did they get home last night? Two, maybe three at night? And now what time is it? She shoves him a little harder. He slowly blinks his sleepy eyes into focus. Justine, sweet, dear Justine. Justine who, in just a week, will spread her wings and fly back to Minneapolis. Who knows what memory she’ll have of this spring abroad in Ferrara. She opens her mouth, he looks at her. “C’e un tremore” she says. Her gray eyes, wide awake and waiting a reply; a response that doesn’t arrive. Too many beers on an empty stomach, too many cigarettes, and too little time left to sleep before work. Sunday mornings Luca works in a bookstore in the town center, on an enviable permanent contract as a part-time employee. “Justine, is it nine?” he mumbles hoarsely. “No.” He turns away, grabs the pillow and sets himself off to continue the exhausted slumber from which he was awoken. What “tremore” means, in the muddled and broken italian of that american girlfriend of his, he can think about tomorrow.
ALIMENTARI E ABBIGLIAMENTO (Food and clothing) If you must, please capitalize the “M” in the beginning of “my name.” I’d prefer not to appear in full, as publicity doesn’t interest me. This is not even the first time that friends and I have helped others. Three years ago, I was also in L’Aquila. So for me, it doesn’t make sense to discuss “my” May 20th. In all, what matters is to bring help to those in need. Less talk, more action. To collect donations of food and clothing and put them in the hands of those in need and to receive a smile in exchange. Each person displaced by the earthquake had a reason and a right to be angry, but we were always warmly received. Of all the things we brought, we never got the feeling that someone would take advantage of the situation for their own profit. We traveled around many areas in the province of Ferrara, but we also visited Mirandola, inside the tent encampments. There were people waiting to know whether they could return inside their homes. Some needed food, and others needed clothes. We helped set up tents. The spotlight should be fixed on those who stay, not who go. With this in mind, there’s still something to learn about the spotlight. A television news crew, I don’t remember which, had their cameras pointed toward Sant’Agostino city hall, waiting for it to collapse. Posted up for two days to get a story. “Look, I even got a picture.” A journalist held his phone in his hand, jumping through images which all look a little alike, whether of a crack in the ground or a hole in the wall. But if you look close, there’s always something, a detail, which sets it apart. He then stops, turns quickly and zooms in to take a picture. He can’t tell whether this public building is real or a prop, fragile enough to collapse momentarily. Maybe it’s true that television hits you at the pit of your stomach, but an empty stomach can only be filled with food.
RADIOCARCERE (Prison Radio) I’m not racist, but anyway: I was quietly minding my own business in my cell, which they’ve put me in with four Africans. It’s not that I like to complain, because around here you get used to everything and more, but what a dump! I started at one side of the cell to scrub the walls. Even by the end of the day I’m still not done. I was good where I was before. There were only a few of us, but we were alright and they also gave us more freedom. Freedom – well, freedom to walk down the hallway, or play some foosball. The earthquake was a huge rip-off. Not to mention the fear of that night: people shrieking like their throats were being cut, empty hallways filled with screams and sobs. Some crying, others angrily shouting from the top of their lungs to be let out of their cells. Eventually, we were brought out to the courtyard, out in the cold, in our pajamas and underwear. Not everybody — just who wanted to. Over the next few days the prison was evacuated for safety, mixing up all the floors and rooms. Prisoners shuffled back together like a deck of cards. Personally, I was better off when I was on the ground floor, but from the rumors – around here, gossip is on the agenda; really, the primary source of information. We call it “prison radio.”
I’ve heard that my old cell block has been cleared out entirely. Now they let us out of our cages for a few hours in the morning and afternoon, which is the only time we have to do laundry and take a shower. Here, there’s not even a toilet in the cell, needless to say a foosball table. Every time, the line to take a shower is so long that you give up trying to wait. So to speak, anyway. I’m not giving a pass on the Africans, or all the dirt and grease I had to scrape off the walls. I thought that with fewer people here the guards would have more free time – don’t all of them always complain about how the real problem is overcrowding? To hell with them – I thought they would have given us a little breathing room. Instead nothing. Now it’s worse than before. Workshops have mostly been closed up. “Prison radio” – the tranmission in this case heard from part of a Calebresan guy who yesterday gave me some laundry detergent – said that they have to reinforce the buildings for the heavy machinery. I signed up for a pottery class, who knows what I was thinking.