SOME NOTES FROM C.R.I.S.I
When we talk about participation, we must think precisely what it means in each context. C.R.I.S.I refers to recognized the existence of social groups that are into the margins and are not functional to the hegemonic logic of power. We choose to work with them, going to their places and activities in order to decentralize and extend the field of action of the project.
We proposed to think and imagine these social groups as a fundamental guidance for future social changes in times of crisis. To reverse the model of cultural burocratization and to produce other models alternatives of distribution of the economy, allowing autonomy in the management of the resources and the forms of life. For that reason here we use to talk about “inclusive social imagination” and not about “participation”. We consider that today “participation” is a tricky concept which could be used to manipulate and instrumentalize the social needs and collective desires and conduct them into the consumerism or the ballot box.
NO TELEMARKETING – NO OPEN CALL
We choose to don’t use the “open call” as strategy for people engagement. It’s like to call to a telemarketer looking to find a friend. Therefore the research is searching for different ways to create and stimulate social engagement. For that reason we understood that the SOCIAL READY MADE is a key method, since it proposes a contextual displacement which transform the significance and encourage taking position. C.R.I.S.I seeks allies who already had their own participatory practices and their own social networks: neighborhood activists, cultural associations, student organizations, artist collectives together with independent journalists, philosophers and social workers. Other main goal on this project was to create interrelationships between collectivities and invidious which don’t use to work together, trying to use all the creative and imaginative resources to stimulate new (non-passive) audiences.
COMMUNE OR COMMUNITY
This project works about the “common” and how to develop emancipatory practices regarding the meaning of social participation, through what we call the “social inclusive imagination” in a context of crisis. On that way we chose to compose the tittle of the project with an anachronism as a synthesis of the whole concepts involved. At the first stage of the project one of the earliest exchanges with the curators of the award was about how to communicate the project. For the first press release to announce C.R.I.S.I, they consulted us about some issues like how we would like develop the project, with whom, and about the title and concepts involved as well. Immediately we saw that perhaps we needed to think about how to “explain” those concepts involved in different languages.
As we come from Argentina and Chile, we use to speak the language which remains as a legacy from the colony: the spanish. But here in Bologna it was a big challenge since we had to develop the whole experience working in two different languages: Italian (for local communication) and english (for international communication). Our english comes from a master degree at the street academy (and not from Oxford) so we thought that it could be nice to have another point of view which the curators has recommended.
They consulted some people in order to hear their opinion and they told us that an American guy who works in cultural management suggested making some changes in the original title we proposed (“Commune of Research for Inclusive Social Imagination”) changing by “Community Research on Imagining Society and Inclusion”. That opened up a quite interesting question. We discover how a little change on the use of language could completely change the meaning of the expressed idea and affect the conceptual development of the project. We understand that “Commune” (as we expressed) is not the same than “Community”. As we used “Commune” on purpose, but english is not our “native” language, we decided to consult another person. So, we wrote to Brian Holmes (which is an American theorist and activist) to make sure that our version of the title was correct (or a consciously error).
His answer was: “The change for “Community Research” is completely normalizing and what it brings to my mind is the point of view of a city government that wants to integrate an artistic process in its rhetoric of public service. Although it is true that in English, “commune” has the smell of 68 Californian psychedelic (which I love) but others, no!. The tittle that you proposed sounds much coherent with your practices. You could also say, in a harder leftwing language: Communards for Research in Social Inclusive Imagination. And with this the inclusion is totally different: one is included in the Paris Commune of 1871 and its current extension”. Finally we decided to keep the original tittle (and concept). Again we has learn that politically, one of the most delicate and important issues to take care in every project are the way to manage then communication (and press).
When we refer to produce experiences of inclusive social imagination, we should always think at the first instance about how
to build another concept of time.Therefore C.R.I.S.I is a temporary and contextual project, which is located and developed the contingency of a particular context and it develops through time. It’s usual that in many art project the artist works alienated from the time and space, globalized and delocalized. They just arrive, spend few days and usually the only relationships they can build is with those people involve in the exhibition, around the gallery or the museum. Then, after the opening they have to leave and they couldn’t make any deep relationship or interaction with the context and the local people. So, that’s one of the tricky stuff of the so called “site specific” practices, where mostly of the times the artists don’t build any real specific development “on site”, but just an installation adapted to some architecture or space but not related with the context and circumstances. We prefer the concept of “fight specific” (recently used by artist initiative Isola Art Center from Milano).
Consciously about the importance of the time, and in opposite to those alienated contemporary art practices, we decided to spend more than two months in Emilia Romagna because we believe that is necessary to create the conditions to develop real
relationships (which could also have a continuity and remain in time). The time of the “social imagination” is completely different than the timing of the creative industry. For the social imagination, the urgency is not like to run for a “dead line” application. It is related with other urgency, which born in the context and the social ability to respond to the most urgent issues through an imagination which manages other temporalities. Those practices which appear when there is a social upheaval, a revolt, a revolution. Practices without strict programs, opened, and based on commitment and solidarity, which creates a new status of time and helping to build new kind of relationships and new forms of art and life.
It’s very common that when you develop cultural or art projects, the resources are distributed by just few individuals, generally they are persons from the close circle of the artist, agents from the institution involved, or those who manage the production. Is usual to see how much money is possible to spend just for producing an artwork (its objects, materials and complexities) events or performance. But then, after the exhibition finish nothing remains (except for the artist career, and eventually for the art market speculation).
As a metaphor of the current crisis, the project searched to move in diverse spaces with people (independent, autonomist and
social projects) who don’t use to get any kind of support) from public or private funding’s. In order to make an experiment to prove that is possible to change such logic, a main part of C.R.I.S.I was focused on different ways to distribute the production budget of the price in order to collaborate with those projects and initiatives and to support their economies.
Therefore sharing the budget with them was an extraordinary experience which helped to change the hierarchies and the roles
from the mainstream art world. In times of capitalist crisis there are certain recurrent harmful dynamics throughout in every productive working environment: degradation and precarity, loyalty and obedience plays between artists, cultural agents, curators and institutions.
On that way C.R.I.S.I has made a collective experiment on that field, taking the economy of the award (which comes from public funds) making it return to the citizens in different forms. The result was not one, but an amount of collective experiences as, music, texts, sounds, objects, interventions and performances, socializing the resources, the work and the authorship.