The Going Public event, organised alongside the Philosophy Festival, offers a glance into the artistic practices which have used the social and political landscape as their primary source of material. Created by the Cultural Lab aMAZE (firstname.lastname@example.org) and curated by Marco Scotini and Claudia Zanfi, the event will include group projects by a number of artists from just as many different international situations, some of which on show here for the first time in Italy.
At a time in which the very concept of “public” is going through an identity crisis – along with the “political” one it is based on, and when the traditional forms of cohabitation seem to be as much in decline as those of belonging to a particular class or people, and when we find ourselves in front of the triumph of the masses and the individual, nothing – paradoxically – has ever seemed more public.
The public sphere is now characterised by the fact that it is no longer defined as such, by its contrast to the private or individual spheres, but by virtue of all social space having become public without any form of political or cultural mediation, removing all intermediate elements from the field. In fact, our behaviour is conditioned by the authorities by melting into the mass of people and their culture in such a way that the private sphere is literally bombarded by sociality in all its normal daily functions.
This phenomenon, which goes under the name of biopolitics, serves as an authentic model of power within the new global order. Introduced by Foucault to identify the passage from the disciplinary society to the control society, bio-power is shown to be a new “backdrop”, an internal normative horizon, capable of permeating the bodies of individuals and organising every aspect of their daily activities. The ability of biopolitics to pervade every aspect of life, including its very own production and reproduction, also hides the paradox of a counter-power which no longer latches on to the fringes of society, but which acts from the centre.
This paradox lies in the institution of a form of power which, while it envelops every social element, reveals a new context characterised by great plurality and an “unstoppable singularisation”: a new element of collective living which has been termed “continent-multitude”. No longer a people nor a community, but a grey area between the individual and the mass, where the current processes of uprooting and disorientation take place, our destiny forever drifting in a sea of resistance and opposition.
When the streams of moving images encounter the extremely mobile and Diasporic public spheres scattered around, the only real space in which the new communities in a network of global citizenship might be found is that which is fed daily by the circulation (be it legal or not) of groups and individuals. It is that tiny and highly contended space in which the masses exercise their power to determine the new forms of global circulation, the new creation of hybrids made of populations, individuals, races, genders, cultures. Many call this the “global exodus”.
There is no need to read De Certeau, Appadurai, Agamben, Negri or Virno; these concepts have been part of the works of many international artists who have refined an interventionist approach to the social fabric they operate on, working on public politics, the grassroots of social activism, the clandestine nomadic culture of temporary makeshift settlements. Several of the best of those to be found in Going Public have chosen to work on aspects of communication such as exclusion, minorities and local memories in a number of Emilian towns (such as Modena and Sassuolo) which offer a complex social context and a rich historical background. Through their use of the Railway Network, they will operate in the spaces in which “de-location” is not just a metaphor, but a reality.