Cultural practices and innovation: CON IL SUD #unfuturomaivisto

Wednesday 22 March 2017

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Memory as a means to resignify spaces. Establishing horizontal relationships between institutions and citizens to create cultural participatory platforms.

These were two of the topics discussed during the book launch of “CON IL SUD #unfuturomaivisto – Visioni e storie di un’Italia che può cambiare” (“CON IL SUD #anunprecedentedfuture – visions and stories from the changing face of Italy”), a volume sponsored by Fondazione CON IL SUD and edited by Andrea Di Consoli and Yari Selvetella.

Held at Ecomuseum – Mare Memoria Viva, the panel discussion was the closing event of Nuove Pratiche Fest, a festival which has been promoting for three years the importance of implementing innovative activities to stress the educational role of cultural heritage.

The representative of Mare Memoria Viva foundation, Cristina Alga was the first speaker. She started describing the urban renewal of former Sant’Erasmo Locomotive Depot, now turned into the first ecomuseum in Palermo. The ecomuseum houses a unique interactive exhibit devoted to the history of the sea, outlining Palermo urban and social transformations. According to Alga, this urban revitalization led also to human revitalization, as citizens enjoyed exploring the collection.

The book launch celebrates ten years of Fondazione CON IL SUD, as pointed out by President Carlo Borgomeo. During this decade, the foundation implemented over one thousand projects240 in Sicily and 40 in Palermo. In addition, he commented on the concept of “an unprecedented future”. According to Borgomeo, the relationship between urban renewal and public authorities requires a further analysis. The purpose of the book is to subvert the dominant culture which has been neglecting the priority of issues such as education, youth and juvenile condition, common goods and social welfare.

On the contrary, Fondazione CON IL SUD has been working towards acknowledging the importance of these issues. Social cohesion is, in fact, the only way to achieve true development. For this reason, one of the Foundation’s goals has always been to promote and generate narratives capable of changing the world, such as the stories of Danilo Dolci, Renata Fonte, Lorenzo Milani, Adriano Olivetti and Franco Basaglia.

The discussion on the book content was enriched by three tales on urban and human revitalizations, generated by activities aimed at raising awareness and promoting cultural intervention.

First, Tiziana Giordano (CESIE) talked about the conference “School Plus: from early school leaving to  school inclusion: ideas and proposals”.  The event allowed participants to evaluate eight projects aimed at tackling early school leaving. Financed by Fondazione CON IL SUD, the projects were implemented in Palermo between 2014 and 2016. The conference inspired relevant stakeholder to plan effective strategies which might foster social inclusion and local development. It is necessary to restore a sense of community and strengthen social ties in order to create fruitful conditions which might support the growth of youngsters and allow them to pursue their dream of a better future. In reality, participatory planning relies on people, therefore third sector organizations and institutions should facilitate this process.

The director of MAXXI museum (Rome), Giovanna Melandri, also participated in the panel discussion. She insisted on the importance of the cooperation amongst cultural institutions so as to promote social inclusion. In this regard, national measures should be implemented in the system of education so as to improve the social conditions, especially for youngsters. Melandri praised social enterprises in Southern Italy, as active models and signs of culture change.

Alessandro Imbriaco and Fabio Severo introduced “Corpi di Reato. Un’archeologia visiva dei fenomeni mafiosi nell’Italia contemporanea” (“Bodies of Evidence. Visual archeology of Mafia phenomena in Contemporary Italy”), a photoessay created along with Tommaso Bonaventura. The aim of the project is to show Mafia phenomena across Italian regions, which have been documented in a visual research on suburbs resulting in a catalogue of “architectural monsters” and relics of the war on Mafia.

In conclusion, Letizia Battaglia, who produced many iconic photos that have come to represent Palermo social life, emphasized the necessity of integrating suburban areas and their inhabitants in cultural processes: promoting literacy, disseminating artistic practices and above removing kids from street life.

Art, social change, cultural practices and innovation are part of the experiences collected by Fondazione CON IL SUD. They prove that Southern Italy can change. Visions can become reality if we commit to improve the quality of life and integrate marginal areas.

The royalties will be donated to Liberos, a Sardinian organisation which implemented an innovative project aimed at promoting reading as a means of social inclusion in small and isolated communities.