On 5th of October STEALTH and Cittadellarte – Fondazione Pistoletto launched the exhibition ‘A Life in Common’. It has been predicted that the city will be the terrain where the new conflicts in society will become visible – and ultimately, will get settled. The abrupt end of the economic bubble in 2008, first manifested as a crisis of home-ownership, and currently as a sustained economic crisis, has brought the hardship directly to the foreground in many key aspects of urban society – and our cities. But equally, in the very breaks and ruptures becoming visible, we can recognize the appearance of new attempts, new initiatives, new approaches – some driven by cultural actors.
‘A Life in Common’ looks at seven key aspects of urban life, and examines some of the breathtaking, daring or sometimes just provokingly pragmatic ways in which art and culture can re-define our city, in terms of how we live (housing), how we produce (economy), the resources we have at hand (food, energy, water…), the new civitas (citizens, migration), and the politics of the city (collective decision making) among others. It does not just highlight the motives and potential of this commitment, but also questions: are we looking at a long-term redefinition of what art and cultural is to involve with?
More than just a showcase of cultural and artistic initiatives that aim at a tangible impact on changing urban life, A Life in Common has been also a months-long investigation into the motives and capacities of a number of actors that have brought about such change. An investigation that has developed in an often dense exchange with organizations like the Van Abbemuseum (Eindhoven), Stroom Den Haag (The Hague), MACAO (Milano), AAA (Paris), but also hacktivist-democracy pioneers like Smári McCarthy and The Citizens Foundation (Reykjavík) – now leading to a publication due at the very start of 2013.
On the occasion of the exhibition opening, we have held a symposium in which the drive of artistic and cultural organizations to experiment or provoke a necessary change in society has been debated. Among others, Rick Lowe (Row House Community Development Corporation) in his statement has advocated using the capacity for arts to contribute with provocative or deviant strategies to address apparently deadlocked challenges.