#2 Inventing the City: A New Map of Bologna

No discourse on migration can avoid questioning the boundaries of citizenship, the right to live in a city, to flee and ask for shelter. Access the city’s unknown territories and the mapping of urban spaces while finding new perspectives is the key focus of Atlas of Transitions Biennale Right to the City.

The project was promoted and organized by Emilia Romagna Teatro Fondazione in collaboration with Cantieri Meticci and the Department of Sociology and Business Law of the University of Bologna. In the last few months, they worked intensively with a group of international artists, associations and institutions to implement practices capable of involving inhabitants, migrants, refugees, without distracting the attention on life backgrounds and social conditions. The city’s complex system is being dismantled to make space for new narratives, emotions and desires, putting everyone on an equal level of emergence. This 10-days festival was designed to reshape the idea of coexistence – in the absence of categorization – between local communities and newcomers who live in the multicultural city of Bologna. Arena del Sole Theatre, by opening its doors, translates those values into real action. The city theatre sends an invitation to question the use of common spaces, which, going through a transformation, have the potential of restoring diversity’s real essence. All practices are driven by the intention to map the city comprised of its interactions, points of conflicts, possible non-existent places and fears.

With its long list of cooperatives, associations and non-profit organisations, collaborating to tackle the migration phenomenon (e.g Camelot, Mondo Donna, Arca di Noe, Lai Momo, Arci), Bologna has already traced its own path in fostering a climate for inclusion.In collaboration with local institutions, they work hand in hand on the development of integration schemes, and, support migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in the search of job opportunities or daily activities. The Emilia-Romagna region is the Italian region with the highest number of resident migrants. In Bologna, the majority of regular migrants come from Romania, Philippines, Bangladesh and Pakistan and they live mostly in the areas of Bolognina, San Donato, Santa Viola, Corticella and Lame. The number of asylum seekers is high as well. In 2017, 1.593 people were, in general, hosted by the reception system of Bologna, including HUB (First-line Reception), CAS (Extraordinary Reception Centres) and SPRAR (System for the Protection of Asylum Seekers and Refugees Network). It is worth underlining that a large number of local organisations believe in the potential of cultural and artistic practices as ways to strengthen interaction between migrants, asylum seekers, refugees and local communities. Many are the variants of dialogue that appear on Bologna’s map of participation – from theatre to digital media, concerts, workshops, social dinners and gatherings, tourism, communication campaigns and festivals.

In the wake of the recent surge of tensions around migrants’ social integration came alive a unique project based on reciprocity and common experiences. From 15 to 24th June 2018, a series of events, performances, talks, concerts, film screenings and many other activities took place between Arena del Sole Theatre and the outskirts of the city. By putting into value the daily processes of interaction and the anthropological need for encounter, the project partners worked next to curator Piersandra di Matteo on the construction of a different way of perceiving citizenship and the use of public spaces. The events were held in intentionally chosen locations – for their architectural, urban and symbolic features – the Memorial for the Holocaust, private homes, some of the city’s main streets as well as deserted squares in the suburban areas. Which city are we living in? Is it made of routines or fantasies? Can our perception of the city be transformed by the encounter of bodies and shared narratives? What do we see? What are we not seeing?

Edited by Konstancja Dunin-Wasowicz

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Why does a discussion about migration begin with claiming the “Right to the City”? In this interview, ERT curator Piersandra di Matteo talks about the 10 days of Atlas of Transitions Biennale Right to the City that took place in Bologna, an attempt to exercise this right through artistic practices capable of generating new anthropological spaces.
Can the re-appropriation of urban space through art and participatory processes become a way to challenge the dominant structures of legality and citizenship, to start reflecting on innovative alternatives?
Thanks to an innovative methodology, "Unleashing ghosts from urban darkness" by Alessandro Carboni has shown us how it is possible to challenge the social conventions and power relations that lie behind the way of representing space and to reveal that the body can have both an aesthetic and performative value but, at the same time, also a strong political meaning.
For three months, Muna Mussie has met women from various countries, aged between 13 and 70, currently and perhaps only temporarily living in Bologna, to know their personal stories and what they would write in a book, if they had the chance to.
In June 2018, Taoufiq Izeddiou's 'Cent pas presque' performances occupied Bologna's famous "T" area - Via Rizzoli - and the suburban square of Piazza dei Colori. Two of the 60 inhabitants who participated in the workshops and the performance speak about this collective dance and the infinite possibilities of perceiving space and time.