Friday Night -- 03.12.04 -- Michelangelo Pistoletto at 16Beaver
1. About this Friday
2. About Progetto Arte -- "Love Difference" (text by M.P.)
3. About Progetto Arte -- October 2001 (text by M.P.)
4. About Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto
5. About the Università delle Idee (UNIDEE)
6. What this place means (text by M.P.)
7. The Responsibility of Art (text by M.P.)
8. Organic Creativity (text by M.P.)
9. Interview excerpt w/ Hans Ulrich Obrist
10. About the MASS MoCA Series
1. About this Friday
What: Presentation/Discussion with Michelangelo Pistoletto
When: Friday 8:00 pm
Where: 16Beaver Street, 4th Floor
Who: All are invited (as always free of charge)
This Friday Night we are pleased to invite Michelangelo Pistoletto to 16Beaver for what should be a most interesting discussion. We hope you can join us.
(Please note that this event will be on our 4th Floor space)
In 1991, Michelangelo purchased the main building of a disused textile mill by the river Cervo in his hometown, Biella.
In 1994, he initiated Progetto Arte, an ambitious initiative which would foreground the idea that art is the most sensitive and complete expression of human thought, and that the time has come for artists to take on the responsibility of establishing ties among all other human activities, from economics to politics, science to religion, education to behaviour – in a word, among the threads that make up the fabric of society.
By 1996, the entire factory complex in Biella had been acquired and Cittadellearte - Fondazione Pistoletto began its activities.
We have attempted to provide all the information (and more) that will be necessary for our discussion this Friday. We will begin with a presentation of Cittadellarte and follow it up with a discussion with Michelangelo on a variety of topics (e.g., artist-run initiatives, socially engaged art, responsibility?, role of art in society).
2. About Progetto Arte / "Love Differences" (text by M.P.)
To assess the heritage of history has become possible, now at the end of the century and the millennium is near.
The twentieth century has witnessed an exponential acceleration of scientific and technological progress. Traditional notions of space and time have changed, and humankind has entered a new dimension laid open by imagination and inventiveness.
Concurrently, a contrary development has brought significant numbers of living beings to extraordinary levels of social and existential degradation. An immense loss of “civil” balance has taken place, and an acute contrast has become manifest in the relationship between the rapidity of communication, which has brought the inhabitants of Earth closer together, and the age-old differences that have interposed themselves between one ethnic group and another, creating insurmountable distances among individuals.
It is a terrible dysfunction of which artists must become aware: they must wonder what role this world reserves for them.
The matter has troubled me deeply ever since the 1950s, and I have steered my work in the direction of individual conscience and interpersonal responsibility. Now, on the threshold of the new millennium, I think of art as a potential means of gathering together and joining all that which has been excised or driven apart. I believe art must recover its universal status.
Progetto Arte is based on the idea that art is the most sensitive and complete expression of human thought, and that the time has come for artists to take on the responsibility of establishing ties among all other human activities, from economics to politics, science to religion, education to behaviour – in a word, among the threads that make up the fabric of society. A basic tenet of the project is the conviction that, a civilisation can no longer be understood in terms of clearly defined territories, an outlook that will stimulate the expression of a “global civilisation “ is necessary. One motto, in this sense, might be, “eliminate distances while preserving differences”.
On this foundation a workshop will be constructed with the intent of forming a “hot core” of energy that will radiate on a broad scale, and not just in a limited field –in other words, to gather together those creative urges that seek to unite the innumerable potentials that exist unexpressed, and to create, as a consequence, the channels of interaction that will form the spherical framework of human society on the planet.
Progetto Arte is the visible sign of a possible principle –that of the joining of opposites – which can be applied to all social contexts, in terms both ideal and practical .
Past and future are two opposites that join in the present. Consequently, to plan the future one must look contemporaneously to the past. The project assigns a fundamental role to the encounter between art and architecture, in the belief that artist and architect acted as one person in imagining and formulating the great civilisations of the past, and that their action was made possible by a sense of commitment on the part of those invested with public power, with whom they engaged in the pursuit of common goals. Today global power is managed by the so-called economic system – a system in which there is no place for thought offered free of charge and hence no room for the ‘opposite ‘ of the rule of profit. It follows that there cannot be an initiative that proposes to formulate a complete configuration of civilisation. Nevertheless one cannot help but acknowledge that the economic system, which is responsible for creating and maintaining world imbalance, is the principal interlocutor of the artist-architect, and that the new course must lead to a reestablishment of the ancient connection between art and power. Another motto of Progetto Arte might be, “the artist as a sponsor of thought”: it expresses the intention to effect an exchange of roles, as well as a reversal of the traditional conception of remuneration.
Due account must be taken also of the fact that the principles which define and divide religions probably contain the most potent seeds of the aesthetic and moral conflict. The harshness of dogmatic methods no longer corresponds to today’s interpretative needs, which must reconcile the particular differences of cultures with the idea of universal concept. Hence I distrust all those positions that define their own view as the only positive one, perpetrating the primitive notion by which the negative sign is assigned to a frontal enemy who must be combated.
In the history of great civilisations, the temples, too, were designed by artist /architects acting in syntony with mythical and religious thought. Hence art must again take on the responsibility of establishing a spiritual connection between past and future – tempered by the awareness that the ‘ churches’ are also, anachronistically, the cause of a disastrous social imbalance; that they continue to provide the economic system with the support of the ancient cult of sacrifice; and that this cult is an inevitable accomplice of the modern machinery of war, which is profitable to the highest degree.
Another slogan of Progetto Arte might be, “love differences,” which means, think not of rigid rules of uniformity and equality, but of the extensive articulation of differences.
Indeed, the project is not a preestablished and formalised design, it is a free, dynamic, fluid, supple sign that fits between the old trenches to form a capillary connection in the flesh of a new, complex, self- designing body.
3. About Progetto Arte -- October 2001 (text by M.P.)
The slogan "Love difference" expressed in the Progetto Arte manifesto in 1994 has now become a political byword.
Everyone is saying that after 11 September 2001 nothing will ever be the same again. But it is important to clarify what this means. The end of an historical epoch or the beginning of another? Will a war resolve everything? And will things then change?
It does not seem to me that the explosive fragmentation of the Twin Towers in New York is so much the end of an historical epoch as it is the beginning of an indeterminate period of time in which, bit by bit, there will come a moment of reckoning for that epoch.
The Progetto Arte document denounced the dramatic and tragic factors that are undermining world civilisation. However, it also expressed a determination to move forward, in both ideal and practical terms, towards a reformulation of the entire social fabric.
Cittadellarte is currently the place where Progetto Arte proposals and programmes are activated.
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The recent tragic events exceed even the wildest fruits of our imagination and place us before an objective reality. With a powerful accelerative surge, these events have made quite evident what seemed likely to remain hidden, silenced and concealed. People who have been murdered or are dying from starvation round the world are appearing on the screen of our ocular retina, rising up like apocalyptic ghosts. This vision translates into a real dimension the prophetic scenes of the Final Judgement.
Progetto Arte might in past years have appeared somewhat utopian and it is not hard to predict that its practical realisation would have met with a great deal of resistance.
Then all of a sudden events deteriorate rapidly and result in a powerful compression of time.
The process of social transformation set in motion in the Cittadellarte laboratory of ideas is emerging as a precursor movement that is demonstrating its complete actuality and is entering a phase of growing acceleration.
It might increasingly seem that terrorism and war are narrowing or shutting off any space that may exist for an alternative to hate, violence and fear, the aggression of others and the terror instilled by an enemy that is capable of hiding anywhere. In this context there is a vital need to find a way out of this tunnel. Progetto Arte clearly indicates an opening leading into a new and different dimension. This dimension exerts a strong magnetic pull that can extract us from the ever less sustainable and ever more catastrophic condition in which the world finds itself.
The space offered by Cittadellarte is a free zone that generates this magnetic force.
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All the work of Cittadellarte, of which the University of Ideas is the principal body, consists of placing creativity at the centre of a wide-ranging plan for responsible social transformation. Everything hinges on and relates to this theme. The slogan is: every product bears social responsibility.
This year Cittadellarte has established the "Minimum Prize".
The Minimum Prize is a symbolic recognition of the most interesting and effective project, idea, proposal or work present in the "Exhibition of projects for responsible social transformation". The title of the award springs from the idea of setting up a prize informed by a spirit that is in utter contrast to the notion that economic power represents the ultimate form of achievement. It is a prize which lies at the bottom, in contrast to top prizes destined for eminent figures who have dedicated their lives to the cause of world peace or civil advancement. It is intended to be at the grassroots, at the ground level of research, a propulsive engine, a stimulus and moving force behind a process which aims at the establishment of values on the horizon of civilisation. It is a prize for someone who is about to start a great work, not for someone who has just finished one. It rewards the point of departure, not the point of arrival. It is a form of recognition that celebrates those who are taking their first steps towards "responsible social transformation".
In the inevitable re-examination of the whole pattern of coexistence in the world, the Minimum Prize means starting from the very bottom to rebuild, bit by bit, everything that is falling to pieces. It is the beginning of a great new adventure, no longer channelled by the Western myth of "progress" but by the impulse to create change by assuming responsibility for the past: changing the future by filtering and carefully panning through the past.
A process where individuals challenge and call themselves into question in the task of responsible transformation. The University of Ideas is a laboratory of mutation. One works in order to learn to produce and deal with mutation.
The Minimum Prize is a symbolic embryo.
There is no time to lose. However serious the current situation might be deemed to be, it is in fact much worse. The only way out is to use one's brain and work to produce the embryos of a civilisation which does not yet exist. Something that one hears everywhere there is an urgent need for, but which still has no structure.
The Minimum Prize is dedicated to those who embark upon structural work of civil transformation.
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We know very well that world conflict is determined by the competitive drive to gain control of markets: oil, drugs, arms and goods in general. But now, precisely because of the weight of matter present on the scene (which includes high technology on the one hand and spreading, inhuman misery on the other) and the broad range of effects that this matter produces, many other factors enter into play and blow apart the privileges of all those who claim them for themselves. Privilege is in fact based on the arrogant methods used by those who have dominion over others, thereby creating a privation of freedom, oppression and human decay. This in turn transforms creativity and intelligence into acts of barbaric and murderous communication. Is there anyone who can see a solution to all this without the need to be committed to a transformation in the way we think, which governs individual, inter-personal and social patterns of behaviour?
Even if some winner were to emerge from current conflicts, wars will always remain in abeyance. The real drama concerns the entire human race and there is no way it can ever by resolved by victory in war.
The problem is humanity as a whole, and it cannot be resolved through victory or defeat on the part of one side or another.
It remains for us to work hard and to make commitment to responsible social transformation our new byword.
4. Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto
The Cittadellarte project got underway in 1991 with the purchase of the main building of a disused textile mill by the river Cervo in Biella. The centre’s activities began after the entire factory complex had been acquired in 1996.
The Fondazione Pistoletto, which has on-going stipulated agreements with the Regione Piemonte and the Comune di Biella, was formally established in 1998, and is responsible for the organisation and administration of Cittadellarte. The University of Ideas (Università delle Idee – UNIDEE), the principal active body in the Foundation, was also set up at the same time.
The name ‘Cittadellarte’ incorporates two meanings – that of a citadel, namely a protected and defended area, and that of a city, which suggests a dynamics of extension and of complex interrelations with the world.
The programmes run by the Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto are based specifically on the interpersonal work of “creative involvement” generated by the artist Michelangelo Pistoletto during the course of the last four decades (since 1961) in order to build a union between art and life.
Pistoletto started the Progetto Arte in 1994, proposing a new role for the artist – that of participating directly in social dynamics. The foundation became an active organism of this project.
Cittadellarte is a large workshop, a breeding ground where creativity is a point of overlap and of the interweaving of different cultural, economic and productive sectors. The activities of the centre are structured so that all forms of art – music, theatre, literature, dance, photography, architecture, visual arts, etc. – can interact directly with every other sphere of the social system, from the economy to politics, from science to production, from education to behaviour. Creativity shifts from being a matter of pure artistic self-referentiality to being a process of active engagement on the part of all the entities that form the fabric of society.
Cittadellarte is entirely dedicated to the quest for responsible social transformation as a response of creativity to the tragic contradictions generated by the comparison between what we call “progress” and the deterioration in the condition of the planet, together with the physical and moral misery to which a large part of the world’s population is subjected.
Cittadellarte organises exhibitions, conferences, debates, concerts, performances, shows and meetings. These initiatives constitute the organic whole of the laboratory workshop, in which the artistic and cultural spheres combine with those of various scientific and productive fields, thereby giving shape and form to common perspectives.
The exhibition events are innovative in so far as the choice of participants does not only involve evaluation and recognition of the work of artists, but also of those ideas, projects, research activities and realisations that in some way contain creative features whereby each product assumes social responsibility. The same principle determines the choice of topics for events and of those who participate in them.
The Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto realises a number of large-scale projects and initiatives falling within the programme of responsible social transformation, for instance “Arte at the center”, “Fair of Arte and Production”, the assignation of the “Minimum Prize” and the “Intermediterraneo”.
5. About the Università delle Idee (UNIDEE)
UNIDEE – the University of Ideas – is a generative cultural organism linked to the activities of the Cittadellarte, whose aims it fully shares.
UNIDEE combines the creativity of various areas of research and pursues the goal of introducing innovations into the system of contemporary society.
UNIDEE draws on the original meaning of ‘university’ as a pole of communication and exchange between areas of knowledge and of issues arising from within different humanistic, scientific, philosophical and artistic disciplines, and also in the worlds of politics, economics and production.
UNIDEE is a meeting place for the development of ideas, a place for the discussion and comparison of projects aimed at forming a new context for civilisation.
UNIDEE – the University of Ideas – is an institution dedicated to students from various different faculties, to artists, to entrepreneurs from all sectors, to those working in social institutions. The programme is organised around conferences, workshops and seminars conducted by professors and experts in the fields of art, culture, science and communication. The UNIDEE workshops are subdivided into sections during the course of the year.
UNIDEE in residence is held in July, September and October. The Cittadellarte is home in this period for students and graduates from all over the world, who are selected by an international panel. The UNIDEE residents participate in ideas- and project-based activities guided by philosophers, scientists, artists, businesspeople and experts in communication.
(Further information about applying for this course is available from: www.cittadellarte.it)
6. What this Place Means (text by M.P.)
My greatest ambition is to enable you to understand the meaning of this place.
First of all, in order to understand this place you need to completely forget what you think art is, you need to completely erase all your ideas about art.
The ideas about art you have held thus far are not relevant, you do not need them to understand this place.
What is needed is a clearing out of the mind. An open mind. A responsive mind.
This space is free, open and responsive, like an open, free and responsive mind. Free, as the mind needs to be free in order to understand what happens in this place.
It is a massive generator, a generator of energy.
In nature, energy manifests itself in the meeting/clash between two opposite poles. In the meeting/clash between the positive and the negative pole.
We all know about the experience of destructive lightning. But now we can experience productive, civilised lightning, namely electric light, a perfect contact between opposite polarities.
This place is a massive generator of civilised energy, and so is productive.
The conflict between opposite poles, the catastrophic contrasts in the world, are clearly visible to everyone and are in one way or another experienced by everyone. Contrasts that are political, religious, social, economic, and so on. Internal contrasts within each field of human activity and also external clashes. Conflicts of interests, cultures and faiths.
The aim of this place is to produce civilised energy, like an electric light, which for me is an example, an emblem of the new civilisation.
So what is taking place here?
The heart of this city/citadel is the University of Ideas.
A workshop that brings together different cultural and productive realities, ideals and practices that are part of life and of the world in which we live.
The particles of these realities precipitate in this catalysing processing zone.
To then leave regenerated, constantly regenerated.
All aspects of shared life are taken into consideration with the aim of producing particles of civilised matter.
Of producing civilisation, as used to occur, for example, in the studios of Renaissance artists and architects, where science, production and economy were inextricably bound up with the imagination, philosophy and spirituality.
Today we are at a new frontier of human existence and different disciplines and forms of knowledge need to come together to face realms and dimensions that have never existed before.
The opposite poles are no longer represented by the EAST–WEST ideological conflict of the twentieth century, but by a clash between increasingly gigantic globalisation systems and the increasing and more minute fragmentation of socio-cultural individualities, between economic and technological peaks and the depths of human degradation that are proliferating in the world.
This is a place for rethinking things, for sharing views, for studying and for doing research that hinges on the fundamental creative abilities of the individual, which can be found at all levels of the collectivity.
Cittadellarte is not therefore a museum of complete, finished paintings and sculptures but a workshop of creativity that is heterodoxically open to all aspects and suggestions. Each and every person can in some way be a citizen of art. And all realities can draw energy once again from the roots of creativity.
A form of work is being carried out here that can no longer be done just by an artist on his or her own. But nor can it be done by a scientist, an economist, a philosopher, a politician, a sociologist or a priest on his or her own.
It is work that must be done together. It is called civilisation.
This place is the atelier, the studio, the laboratory of that art.
7. The Responsibility of Art (text by M.P.)
The artist as sponsor of thought.
The responsibility of art is to create the new principles of a harmony involving aesthetics and common ethics; a harmony capable of retracing all elements comprising society to a "classical" proportion.
At the end of the long "romantic" adventure of progressivism, art must underscore the possibility to determine the values of a vast equilibrium.
Art is responsible for a new philosophy based on an encounter of opposites, as the absolute and the relative. This philosophy is associated with a different way to conceive the dynamics of phenomena as well as fidgets immobility.
The responsibility of art consists of playing the role of a fundamental proposition of thought. Or rather, in constituting the spiritual base whose form is transmitted to common life through a global conception of being.
The responsibility of art is to reveal the contrast between technological progress and antiquated dogmatic systems, providing the consciousness with a new point of view.
Art is the primary expression of human creativity and consequently the landmark of every cultural, economic and social activity.
Artists must go beyond the limits of the object, of what we call the "artistic product" (without neglecting its fundamental importance), to become involved in all situations and places of planetary life.
Art must bring the perceptive sensibility characterizing it to all systems – whether it is a matter of production, organization or politics – to achieve the "composition" of the different parts conceived as harmonious elements of a civil concert. Where this sensibility no longer exists, the organism becomes sclerotic.
The artist must be everywhere, not only in galleries and museums; he must participate in every possible activity. The artist must be the sponsor of thought in the different human enterprises, on all levels, from execution to decision-making.
As to my own personal activity, after I transformed painting, that is the metaphoric mirror, in a true mirroring surface in 1961, the images of art have become "objective" and have become a part of life.
The painting has freed itself of the frame, the statue has descended from its pedestal. Since then my work, that is the aesthetic act, has begun to penetrate in the spaces of life itself. It is not a matter of a multimedia project bound to come to an end after a short period, but rather of a work with a 360 degrees' perspective, which will develop for a long time to come and which looks to the future.
8. Organic Creativity (text by M.P.)
Here we’re making an organic plan for the transformation of the “world”.
Without apprehension we set this place at the center of the world, at the center of a global transformation of society.
We devote ourselves to bringing about this transformation.
I produce organisms. I think organisms and produce organisms. Active organisms, susceptible to the macro and microscopic transformation of systems.
Programming and activation of organisms. Creation and construction of organic nuclei that are unique, independent and connected among themselves.
Organisms that are as primary as they are complex, as simple and elementary as they are predisposed to articulations that reproduce in a mathematically combinatorial way with other organisms. A system that exactly reproduces nature’s system. A system that acknowledges its own intelligence, just as it acknowledges the intelligence of nature.
Its own thoughts are as nature’s thoughts. Things are born and grow just like our organic work is born and grows.
This is creativity at the center.
Within ten years from now, in the year 00000001, we must ascertain a real and important social transformation.
It is the right moment for working on this problem which is no longer a project but a realization desired by (human) nature.
We become seers, active like nature itself. We become an active mirror of the natural system, contributing our transformation which is the mirror image of that intelligence – It is the activity within knowledge that produces knowledge –
It is knowledge’s conscience.
Creativity becomes organic, in order to know itself in each and every part.
Thus the primordial fideistic state gives way to the cognitive state through the production of organisms that are adequate and directly responsive to the transformation of thought and of human reality.
Single organs are simple: those that constitute the articulation of every social system.
We mustn’t worry about differences, resistance, rooted ethnic and cultural identities. The problem is not their preservation nor their disappearance; the job is to regenerate, to produce new generation. Everyone is involved, albeit unconsciously, in this transformation. Everyone is ready to change. This is the moment. Now let us produce the perfect organisms for the change.
A shared sense of engagement is required, starting from the most active and responsible individuals in society. There is a way for each person to make an effectual contribution to this undertaking.
Biella, 4:00 a.m.
9. Interview excerpt w/ Hans Ulrich Obrist
FROM ANNO BIANCO TO LOVE DIFFERENCE
Michelangelo Pistoletto’s projects at large are inscribed in the history of the artist run initiatives (both artist - run space - and artist run time), the enterprise in which an artist or a group of artists themselves direct a venue so that the work they support can have the chance to exist far beyond more official art structures. The tradition is long and, from Gustave Courbet's 1855 creation of his own ephemeral one-man show to the effluence of collective endeavours that began to take particular force over a century later, Pistoletto's visionary incitement to collaborate is offering practitioners of all kinds the chance to exceed the boundaries of their discipline, to construct works they may not have otherwise imagined.
The following interview shows Pistoletto’s most recent project, Love Difference, resisting the normative and prescriptive aspects which accompanied many earlier utopias. Love Difference, similar to other projects of the early 21st century such as Rirkrit Tiravanija’s project The Land in Thailand are concrete utopias, showing us ways to bridge the gap between the imaginable and the real, some of the ways they present new possibilities and hope.
Immanuel Wallerstein coined the term “Utopistics Or, historical Choices of the Twenty-first century”. Utopias? Utopistics? Utopia.. is a word invented by Thomas More, and it means literally "nowhere". Wallerstein shows us that: «The real problem with all utopias of which I am aware, is […] that they seem to me [...] dreams of heaven that could never exist on earth. [...] Utopias are breeders of illusions and therefore inevitably, of disillusions. Utopistics is the serious assessment of HISTORICAL ALTERNATIVES. Not the face of the perfect (and inevitable) future, but the face of an alternative, credibly better, and historically possible (but far from certain) future.»
Hans Ulrich Obrist, curator Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; curator (with Molly Nesbit and Rirkrit Tiravanija) of Utopia Station, 50° Venice Biennial
The longer version of the interview will be in the book Hans Ulrich Obrist, Huo_Interviews/1, published by Charta and Fondazione Pitti Imagine Discovery
H.U.O. : During our meeting in San Gimignano, you talked about globalization and about how we should resist all forms of standardization.
M.P. : Standardization is the way to resist the phenomenon of diversification, which is the expression of reality itself. This is proven by the Oggetti in Meno, the mirror and all the works involving the temporal dimension: there are no two same moments, nor are there two same people. Through reification every single thing takes on all sorts of appearances. Nature produces difference. Obviously, differences are governed by more or less slow or complex transformation systems; there are community systems as well. In other words, there are community structures consisting of individual bodies. This way, there is a social reproduction of natural systems, but these social structures are where difference is automatically produced. Resisting the reality of differences entails serious problems. On the other hand, diversity at its highest can generate irreparable conflict-ridden tension. It's wrong to speak of difference in absolute terms, as it is to speak of flat standardisation. I have this slogan to suggest: "eliminate distance by keeping differences!"
H.U.O. : So now we're fully immersed in your project called Mediterraneo. Could you tell me its principle? I understood that the most important thing for you now is to make it turn out as a movement rather than a project.
M.P. : Exactly. Love Difference is an Artistic Movement for an InterMediterranean Politic. I hold high hopes for this project. We're talking about an artistic movement that just can't be compared to any of the ones that took place during the 20th century. The only participants in these movements were almost always the artists who made them up for themselves. Love Difference is what I call an artistic movement for an inter-Mediterranean policy and that's quite a different matter. It's an artistic movement open to everyone. And it's that way because it contains a clearly political element; the word ‘policy’ itself makes everyone involved somehow and encourages society itself to be present. It's an artistic movement for a policy, so by using this artistic movement for a policy everyone can join the artistic movement. At the same time, the phenomenon of the artistic movement introduces artists to the world of politics. There's a sort of osmosis between the world of art and the world of politics. We believe that artists can pump fresh blood into politics and that politics can show a new face thanks to the transfusion received from the world of art. Obviously, the movement is based on the experiences we've talked about so far, i.e. on the consideration of the cultural, economic and political value of ‘diversity’. By diversity I mean balance and integration between opposing poles, like the absolute and the relative, the back and the front, nothingness and everything.
H.U.O. : So what is it that attracts you the most in this project? What made you choose the Mediterranean?
M.P. : Great civilizations were born in the Mediterranean and we're part of them. Western and Middle Eastern civilizations influenced the whole world in times gone by the past, but now unfortunately what used to be a central point has become the extreme periphery. Today the Mediterranean is just like a dustbin: it's full of the most frightful things from all round the world. If we want to change this ‘global’ society, if we want to work towards a “social responsible transformation", then the Mediterranean is definitely the area to work on. We have to start off from the beginning and move towards a new principle.
H.U.O. : And how do you evaluate the project's utopian aspect? The idea of movements is indeed quite clearly reflected in Utopias.
M.P. : A Utopia can be that white area, that white plaster, that yellow book or those empty rooms that slowly become fully accomplished works when you project them into time. A Utopia is a passage. A Utopia might be an empty mirror that contains everything. From emptiness comes fullness, things are physically reified and the process of existence is determined.
H.U.O. : You were also saying that this Utopia isn't a catalyst but rather …
M.P. : "a spring", like the one used to wind up clocks to trigger the mechanism inside and make it move through time.
H.U.O. : "Ce n'est pas un temps absolu."[translate]
M.P. : You're perfectly right! It's not at all absolute. It spurs movement Action comes from an impulse. By expressing itself, or rather by becoming an expression, a utopia Utopia doesn't take the shape of a single time unit or of infinity, but rather of the lapse of time relative to the drive it produces. So a utopia Utopia moves beyond a state of inertia and becomes movement in turn. It triggers off processes that occupy space as they move through time. It's like the sexual attraction that leads to intercourse. Countless numbers of sperm flow inside and one of them might even manage to reach the egg. Similarly, a Utopia is attraction towards a non-place, which under certain conditions can give birth to a place. Utopias play on the "time" phenomenon, between maximum resistance and maximum drive. You can even imagine that time in a Utopia is like time in a migratory flight: you're no longer in one place and you still haven't reached the other place.
10. About the MASS MoCA Series
At the conclusion of May 2004, MASS MoCA will open the doors to "The Interventionists: Art in the Social Sphere - a brief survey of interventionist political art practices of the 90s".
Since 1999, we have been organizing events, presentations, and activities which have among other things generated/addressed questions related to socially engagement within cultural practice.
So rather than produce something outside our framework of ongoing activities for this exhibition, we will instead tie together our discussions/events which deal with the larger questions of art in the social sphere.
We will not only attempt to invite artists who are involved with the exhibition, but other projects, artists, practices which we find interesting and believe make an important contribution to the subject at hand.