My recent article on STUDIO issue #12 – EPHEMERAL

The article, published on STUDIO, explores the notion of ephemeral as a precarious condition in relation to public space and homelessness. 

On the possibility of decentralising social inclusion

Decentralising social inclusion through principles of “implicit programming”.

In this position paper (accepted for the workshop New Value Transactions: Understanding and Designing for Distributed Autonomous Organisations hosted at the University of Edinburgh as part of the Designing Interactive System 2017 Conference) I describe how principles akin to blockchain and smart contract have been applied to the design of the object I developed together with the community of homeless people in St Peter’s Square.

I would like to thank Bettina Nissen and Chris Speed. Unfortunately I will not be able to present at the conference… Further info here

STSItalia6 – Sociotechnical Environments University of Trento, Nov 24-16 2016

As a member of DiSign Research Group @ University of Edinburgh I am contributing to the presentation of “Multi-scalar object agencies: The Goldilocks affect” together with Arno Verhoeven, Craig Martin, Chris Speed.

Thanks Arno for the effort in putting up the presentation (click here)!

 

Tait Presented at Conference in Cyprus

In the occasion of the conference HOUSED by CHOICE HOUSED by FORCE – Homes, Conflicts and Conflicting Interests, I presented Tait and the methodology that was developed for the project. The paper, selected for publication, can be found here.

 

Paradossi della Biennale: l’esclusione degli esclusi

È deludente scoprire che il lavoro svolto con i senzatetto a Roma non rientri nel concept della Biennale di Venezia! È veramente deludente scoprire che una proposta tanto semplice quanto difficile da rifiutare, quella di adottare tait come arredo pubblico durante la biennale non rientri nel concept di riportare per così dire dal fronte (tema di quest’anno). Ci sarebbe piaciuto raccontare delle complicate tematiche relative ai poveri ed emarginati della città, dello spazio pubblico e della condivisione di questo. Ci sarebbe piaciuto parlare di comunità e dialogo. Abbiamo portato avanti questo lavoro senza chiedere un soldo, lavorando fuori dalle istituzioni, abbiamo litigato con associazioni di volontariato, attivisti e perfino con l’elemosiniere del Papa!! E tutto questo solo per sollevare un problema concernente le nostre città e lo spazio pubblico. Perché non siamo così ipocriti da pensare che da soli possiamo trovare una soluzione! 

Ebbene è proprio di questa ipocrisia che vorremmo parlare. Ci sembra evidente che lavorare con i poveri e gli esclusi non sia il concept di quest’anno. Allora ci chiediamo quale sia??? 

Poi succedono cose che ti fanno riflettere e pensare che forse il caro Alejandro dice di essere un attivista e lavorare per i poveri solo quando si tratta di apparire su qualche che giornale. Perché quando degli studenti ti invitano in università per condividere la tua conoscenza e lavoro con e per loro tu non esiti a chiedere un onorario di 10000 dollari per 3h di intervento, più volo A/R in business class, pasti e perfino il pacchetto di gomme che compri, pagato! E tutto questo per un’iniziativa degli studenti! Soprattutto, chiedi addirittura di sapere le domande in anticipo!!! Menomale che internet è gratuito se devo vedere le stronzate che vai dicendo in giro da anni a pagamento!!! Qui sotto ci sono due immagini, una è la mail d’invito che Fabrizio e la sua collega di dottorato Rebecca con l’università di Edimburgo hanno inviato ad Alejandro. L’altra è la sua risposta, sono in inglese ma si capiscono…  

  

  

   

 Infine, non ci dispiace affatto che non siamo stati accettati. Forse è meglio così! Aspetaci! Ci vediamo comunque a Venezia con tait caro Alejandro! 

 

Venice Biennale’s paradoxes: exclusion of the excluded

It is with disappointment that we read the email from Alejandro Aravena saying our proposal to adopt tait as a public furniture for the next Venice Biennale does not fit within the concept. This year theme is ‘reporting from the front’ and should reflect on architectural practices that engage with the marginalised social aspects of architecture. 

It is surprisingly disappointing to think that the work carried out with a community of homeless people is not part of this concept. We really wanted to report from the front questions concerning urban poverty and public space, dialogue and community, the voice of people who are often unlistenable! We worked for free, outside the institution, having arguments with charitable bodies, activists and even with the bloody Papal Almoner!!! All this simply to carry out a project that does not want to claim to be a solution! Coz we are not that hypocritical designers thinking to find a ready-made solution. 

Hypocrisy is on the contrary something that we want to polemicise with our dear Alejandro! Because we would really like to understand what is the concept then? Is it working with the urban poor and excluded other? Or is it the case that you, dear Alejandro, are again the same institutionalised mannequin! One who claim to be an activist, caring for the poor only when it comes to appear on some journal. It is curious to note in fact how you do not hesitate to ask for a 10000 USD honorary for a 3/h speech, plus expenses payed for a business return flight, meals and even the postcard you buy once in Edinburgh when students invite you to share your knowledge and work with and for them? You even asked to know the questions in advance!! Thanks and thank god the Internet is for free if had to listen to the same old shit you broadcast to the world since so long! Attached are two image that tells the type of professional you are. One is the invitation that Rebecca, a Fabrizio’s PhD colleagues and himself have sent to Alejandro. The other is his reply… 

   
  

Now, we would like to say that after all we welcome your negative response even more than a positive one! 

Expect tait, occupying the Venice biennale… See you soon Alejandro! 

Shades of homelessness

This coming week, on the 21st-22n of January as part of FREUMh, Fabrizio is going to present at the conference HOUSED by CHOICE HOUSED by  FORCE : Homes, Conflicts and Conflicting Interests. The paper titled Forced to live dead in public space: an experiment of democracy in Rome will discuss the ongoing research project taking place in St Peter’s Sq, Rome and dealing with homelessness and public space. In particular, the aim of the paper is twofold: First, it is to outline a manifested desire to house homeless people that we recorded during the research phase and throughout the interviews we had. Second, to discuss about the methodology we adopted, highlighting how theory fits into practice.

With regards to the first aspect, during the interviews we had with stakeholders (charitable bodies, passers-by in St Peter’s Sq., general public and homeless people) something that can be described as a contrasting view emerged. On the one hand, the idea that to house homeless people into abandoned buildings can be a solution to homelessness. On the other, the aspect with community that emerged during the encounters with a group of people who sleep rough utilising a portico area nearby St Peter’s Sq., with whom we collaborated for the project.

The paper that will be presented at the conference in fact argues about the very fact that housing homeless people into abandoned buildings is not a solution. It is rhetoric and may manufacture political clashes- with the proviso that for political we intend what has to do with the polis, that is the city and its dwellers. The paper’s aim is to define a right to the city, in the sharing of public space and a right to be housed as an issue that does not afflict only homeless people but a larger part of excluded people. In this respect we believe the project we carried out defines a different modality of architectural activism. One that does not deploy acts of protest as a mechanism of inclusion. Rather it seeks for a dialogue, bringing to light aspects that are hidden and that can determine more mutual relationships among individuals.

A few example to explain this. During the interviews we were having with a group of cultural outsiders (people who are not directly involved in activities concerning homelessness), these were stating or better asking “why does a homeless person deserve a house more than a mother of two who cannot afford to buy a house and is forced to live at their parents?”. As FREUMh we could ask the same question to ourselves. We are both carrying out PhD studies, both got our degrees in architecture and yet, we both cannot afford to buy a house. That is to say, perhaps the question with housing people is a wider one and homeless people are the most visible side. Of course, one may be tempted to argue that we are surely in a privileged condition than a homeless person. However, all this discourse outlines one main concern, solutions are rhetorical. Solutions manufacture exclusions! The pictures below can give a sense of what we are arguing.

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Comments to the article
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Article’s title: Ferratella, ex-school Comisso cleaned up: it will host 30 homeless people

It entails comments on an article appeared in an electronic newspaper. The article describes the project that has turned an abandoned school in Rome into a hostel for homeless people. Comments however are not in the vein of welcoming the project. The first comment for instance is from a father whom daughters’ school is falling into decay. Literally translated the comment says: “in my daughters’ school, walls are dirty and falling into decay. Floors are dangerous and with missing tiles substituted by cardboard. Parents provide for toilette paper in as much as we also bought the blackboard and we are going to pay for the music class, despite it is a compulsory course. And I pay a hell of taxes! Is it normal?…” The third commenter instead says: “left-wing people, always looking for visibility (left wing party is suffering a major political crisis due to scandals that involved Rome city council). When are you going to deal with unemployed people who were evicted, divorced fathers, unemployed who live in cars or at friends and parents’ houses? …”

That is to say, a project that aimed to be a solution for a group of homeless people became the centre of a political issue. A tension between people who are perhaps experiencing similar issues and feel themselves as excluded from a wider discourse.

Giorgio Colli in La Nascita della Filosofia, (the birth of philosophy) outlines in fact how in ancient Greece the centre was the ideal place where democracy was practiced. He describes how the idea of a centre is not the one of being occupied but rather to remain empty. Democracy to be transversal and ubiquitous, that is to serve people, has to be regarded as an empty space. Solutions instead tend to occupy the centre, representing one point of view which is furthermore bearer of a rhetoric. Solutions may be appealing only for a restricted number of people, excluding many others.  Additionally, in the optic of homelessness and people who are in need,  as reported also by a census carried out by Manuela Braga from University  Bocconi, Milan the dependancy from services such as free meals or hostels may become chronic, particularly in subjects who are experiencing for the first time the issue of finding themselves as homeless. This aspect was confirmed by Mauro, one of the people who inhabit the portico area in St Peter’s Sq. He stated how, if on the one hand he keeps looking for jobs on the other many of his friends has simply given up to the idea of living on the street and relying on charitable services, e.g. clothes and food.

The second aspect the conference paper aims to highlight is the community. Judith Butler in Can one lead a good life in a bad life?, reporting the example of Jews in concentration camps outlines how scarcity determines conditions of mutual support and solidarity among people. In this respect, the aspect of being a community based on mutual support emerged during the encounters we had with the people who inhabit the portico area nearby St Peter’s Sq. These people do not simply share a space to sleep rough over night. Rather they share almost everything. From money they collect from passers-by to food. The space was in fact described as a refuge- a place where one can feel secure among people who are kin to one another.

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One of the encounters with the community of rough sleepers in St Peter’s Sq
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Food donated to me last July 2015 by Dario, one of the inhabitants of the portico

However, the social structure that we appreciated by getting in touch with this group of people is, to use Butler’s words “useless suffering” if it remains unnoticed to the majority of other people we interviewed who are not rough sleepers. Once, during the presentation of the project to Konrad Krajewski, the Papal almoner, I was describing this group of people as a community. I was suddenly stopped and said that these people are just individuals who utilise the portico to sleep rough.

Useless suffering, as argued by Butler implies a twofold aspect that give the sense to the paper’s title: First, an absence of the value characterising the social structure which is present below the portico area. This is what, according to Butler designates a life that is considered not life, or only partially-living, or already dead. Second, the perceived absence of value determines attitudes towards homeless people that can be described as charity, e.g. allowing homeless people to sleep rough by using the portico, or giving them some coins and move away.

Therefore, the theory that informed our approach to the project we developed was the one of a dialogue with the dead- homeless people are spectres. Following Davide Susanetti’s account on rituals concerning the consultation of spectres in ancient Greece, we thought about an inversion of the gaze: “Spectres are the only true plane of reality while the events are just shadows of a metaphorical theatre.”

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Tait

The concept was to share this object while provoking questions with regards to the liminal and contentious sharing of the space of the portico. This project explores several themes: First, the democracy of public space. It attempts to transform the portico from a public space of exclusion into a space of encounter for diverse social and cultural actors. Second; democracy as not simply determined by an abundance of solutions. Rather, democracy must be built through dialogue. This object establishes a dialogue due to its fragility. It demands that users take care of it, and by doing so, the user indirectly takes care of a remote other. The project aims at manufacturing a network of involved people. The third theme is concerned with a witnessed indifference towards social injustice with regards to the production of social waste. The materiality of the object, recycled cardboard, extends a metaphor: Production of social waste has potential to remediate and convert new sets of relationships.

To conclude this long post, we follow on Butler’s account that, in order to lead a good life in a bad life, we have to create the conditions for people to dialogue. This is neither to affirm one side or the other but to allow people to manufacture a network. This is why we insist on manufacturing a dialogue that could lead to the definition of a common. A common good that can transcend social and cultural (and political) differences.

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Wishes

Christmaswishes

Bearing in mind all the people who won’t have the possibility of celebrating Christmas tonight. For all the rest, just enjoy it…

And if you are still wondering about the image, we made it and is titled Recycle Responsibly. It reflects on the production of human and social waste by contemporary capitalistic economical drives.

 

Giornata Mondiale di Lotta alle Povertà 

  
FREUMh presenta tait assieme a Focus-casa dei diritti sociali. 

FOCUS-Casa dei Diritti Sociali promuove, in occasione del 17 ottobre – Giornata Mondiale di Lotta alle Povertà, un momento di riflessione e di confronto sui temi dell’esclusione sociale e delle disuguaglianze.

Co-responsabili la crisi economica e le politiche di austerità imposte dai governi, la povertà in Europa e nel mondo è cresciuta. Secondo un’analisi dell’Oxfam, nel 2016 più della metà della ricchezza globale sarà in mano all’1% della popolazione, che sarà più ricco del restante 99% del mondo.

In Italia, rispetto al periodo pre-crisi, il numero di persone che vivono in povertà assoluta è più che raddoppiato, salendo da 1,8 a 4,1 milioni. Secondo il Rapporto Caritas 2015 “Dopo la crisi. Costruire il welfare”, se da un lato si sono aggravate e cronicizzate le condizioni di chi già viveva in povertà, dall’altro nuove categorie sociali si sono ritrovate sotto questa soglia. La povertà, dunque, ha assunto un nuovo volto.

La celebrazione della Giornata inizierà nella mattinata di venerdì 16 ottobre, alle ore 9.30 presso il CESV in Via Liberiana 17 per discutere questi temi complessi. La giornata sarà anche un’occasione per condividere pratiche di contrasto alle povertà, costruite con le stesse persone in povertà di diritti. Tra queste, le reti di economia solidate tessute dai migranti tra le due sponde del Mediterraneo e l’esperienza di alcune cooperative di donne del Marocco rurale che, per reagire alla crisi economica e ambientale del proprio territorio, hanno messo in atto pratiche di cooperazione, decentrate e sostenibili, per sopravvivere e uscire dalla crisi.

Antonella Selva, dell’associazione Sopra i ponti di Bologna, ci racconterà alcune di queste virtuose esperienze di solidarietà e interconnessione tra Nord e Sud del Mediterraneo e del ruolo attivo che stanno assumendo oggi le donne, alle cui storie di vita e di lotta la Selva ha dedicato un romanzo a fumetti: “Femministe. Una storia di oggi”, che sarà presentato durante la mattinata. Insieme all’autrice, parteciperanno all’incontro il giovane artista Ayoub Abid, che presenterà invece l’esperienza del collettivo di fumettisti Skefkf, una significativa realtà culturale di Casablanca.

Alle ore 13.00, la mattinata si concluderà con la presentazione di un progetto volto a sperimentare processi democratici nell’uso condiviso dello spazio pubblico attraverso un dialogo aperto con chi non ha fissa dimora. Fabrizio Gesuelli e Chiara Androetti (FREUMh) ci faranno conoscere Tait , un oggetto dinamico interamente realizzato in cartone riciclato (i tubi di supporto ad esempio sono le anime dei fogli A1 utilizzate per la stampa da plotter). Il nome è l’acronimo per The Adjustment Is Ten (la variazione è dieci) poiché 10 cm è la distanza che separa una persona che vi si sdraia dal terreno. Il nome è anche la pronuncia fonetica della parola inglese tight, utilizzata nell’espressione sleep tight (dormi bene). L’oggetto può essere utilizzato sia come panchina pubblica che come materasso per dormire. L’oggetto rappresenta semplicemente un ausilio per coloro che dormono in strada, non facendoli dormire direttamente a contatto con il suolo. Il progetto non vuole offrire una soluzione alla questione di chi non ha fissa dimora. Vuole invece attivare un processo di dialogo a livello di pubblico generale, sensibilizzandolo rispetto alla tematica dei senzatetto nel rapporto con la città e lo spazio pubblico.

A partire dalle ore 14.00, poi, e fino a sera, presso lo sportello e la Scuola di italiano di FOCUS-casa dei Diritti Sociali in via Giolitti 225 e 241 è previsto un momento collettivo di raccolta e distribuzione di indumenti, per sostenere le persone che si rivolgono ai nostri servizi ad affrontare l’inverno.

Nella mattinata di sabato 17 ottobre presso la nostra sede di Piazza Vittorio organizzeremo un momento di riflessione su UE e Mediterraneo con la partecipazione e i contributi di Antonella Selva dell’associazione Sopra i ponti di Bologna e il giovane artista Ayoub Abid, che presenterà invece l’esperienza del collettivo di fumettisti Skefkf, una significativa realtà culturale di Casablanca.

Inoltre sosteniamo e partecipiamo alla Giornata di mobilitazione contro le diseguaglianze sociali e la miseria, promossa dalla rete nazionale delle organizzazioni della Campagna ‘Miseria ladra’ alle ore 18.00 presso il Sagrato della Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano, attorno alla Lapide in onore delle vittime della miseria.