50th Biennale di Venezia
15th June - 2nd November 2003
Awarded the Golden Lion for Career Achievement at the 50th Venice Biennale, Michelangelo Pistoletto has been invited to present the Love Difference project in the Utopia Station section curated by Molly Nesbit, Hans-Ulrich Obrist and Rirkrit Tiravanija.
Pistoletto opens the Love Difference Office in the Tese delle Vergini space. The Office consisted of a large mirroring table with the shape of the Mediterranean basin, surrounded by seats from the various countries facing the sea. For five months the table – a mirror of differences, surrounded by the seats symbolizing the Love Difference network – becomes a spontaneous meeting point for exchanging ideas and experiences, and an information desk for the movement.
The Office has organized a wide range of activities, including workshops, meetings, concerts, debates and performances.
The Love Difference words workshop has involved international artists from the Manydee platform, who are developing their projects in various areas of the Mediterranean. These projects operate within the social fabric and seek to forge relationships between the various shores of the Mediterranean. Notes taken during this workshop has then been published in the issue 6/2003 of "Illywords", the magazine published by Illycaffè, distributed in September in the FestivalLetteratura of Mantua.
The Love Difference Boat has been launched on July 26th, to start a a journey from Venice to Zara, the first stage of its World Tour Mediterraneo. In the same afternoon a party, with music by Mariposa, featuring typical Mediterranean sounds and tastes.
50th Biennale - Meetings around the table
Important steps in the evolution of the Love Difference project the events "Art and Alternative Politics" and "Cultural Activators and InterMediterranean Collaboration".
Art and Alternative Politics
The event of September 13th involves artists and curators who are working on projects in which an artistic approach and methods are applied to politics. Moderated by Dagmar Reichert, the day opens with a discussion of the points that the projects have in common, and strategies for engaging with politics through art. The speakers were:
Tal Adler (artist, Tel Aviv), Transnational Republic (international artists’ collective), Chiara Bertola (curator, Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Venice), Frederikke Hansen (curator, Shedhalle, Zürich), Michelangelo Pistoletto (artist, Italy), Georgina Portelli, (psychologist, UK), Pierre Portelli (artist, Malta) and Margit Rosen (curator, ZKM, Karlsruhe).
The discussion results in the drawing up of a draft document-manifesto, the main points of which have been presented to the general public in an afternoon session. The representatives of the three artistic projects – Love Difference, Transnational Republic and Pettek – have stressed the need for art to develop systems of thought and action parallel and alternative to institutional political systems. Art cannot limit itself to reflecting upon and stimulating reflection about what happens in the world, but must act directly on the social fabric and the complex web of international relations. However, the political action of art should not enter the specific field of parliamentary disputes but, operating from outside, should indicate another approach to citizenship, representation and participation in decisions regarding public affairs.
If all this is to function, one necessary condition is the accessibility of art to everyone – and not only to small elites – and the active involvement of the public in projects.
A common manifesto for the alternative political projects should be based on an ethics of freedom and a sense of responsibility – total freedom of artistic expression and its responsibility in managing the relationship with the socalled user, which does not come to an end when the latter comes into contact with the work but brings about genuine changes in thinking and behaviour.
Cultural Activators and InterMediterranean Collaboration
A kind of art that assumes social responsibility and does not limit itself to producing furniture for museums also requires the existence of a culture capable of sustaining and promoting it. This issue has been discussed in the second event, held on September 14th.
The purpose of this meeting is to present concrete initiatives for the establishment of a network of Mediterranean collaboration.
The typically horizontal nature of communication in a network structure is, in fact, the only way to tackle the hierarchies and disparities that divide the European Mediterranean countries from the North African and Middle Eastern ones, both from a political and from an economic and cultural one.
This is one of the issues discussed in his paper by Franco Farinelli, Professor of Human Geography at the University of Bologna.
download the paper by Franco Farinelli in PDF format
Michelangelo Pistoletto and Dagmar Reichert present a general outline of Cittadellarte and Love Difference, receiving comments and criticism from the other participants: Pierre Abi Saab (journalist and publisher, Beirut), Enver Hadziomerspahic (Director of the Ars Aevi Museum, Sarajevo), Molly Nesbit (curator of Utopia Station, Professor of Art, Columbia University), Zeina Maasri (artist and graphic designer, Beirut), Federica Thiene (artist, artway of thinking collective, Venice), Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti (architects, Stateless Nation and Multiplicity, Palestine/Italy), Immanuel Wallerstein (director of the Fernand Braudel Center for the Study of Economies, Historical Systems, and Civilization).
The proposal is to create a network of cultural activators/mediators for the Mediterranean, developing the traditional idea of a school for curators. The training course should be organized as a nomadic laboratory which, basing itself on existent institutions and organizations, gives a group of people already engaged in the field of social art or intercultural mediation the possibility of working in different Mediterranean cities for a few weeks each year. They would organize events or meetings in close collaboration with local bodies. Social art initiatives are much more problematic than traditional international exhibitions or art biennials, but are more readily acceptable to local cultures because they are not necessarily invasive with respect to their customs and culture. The misunderstandings and rejection that often result could be overcome through a greater understanding of the culture of the host country, which can be achieved through contact with recognized organizations. In this way not only can the participants gain a clearer idea of how to set about establishing intercultural dialogue and tackling the rifts between the Mediterranean countries, but it also creates a small core of people interested in the project and with ties with communities and organizations in the Mediterranean countries.
:: Dafnà Moscati has collected footage (including 23 interviews with people from the countries of the Mediterranean) from the meetings held between September and October.
:: On October 26th Chiara Bertola and Michelangelo Pistoletto present the programme of active collaboration between Love Difference and the Venice-based Fondazione Querini Stampalia at Tipping Point, organized by the Art Historical Contemporary Archive of the Venice Biennale (ASAC).
:: The activities of Love Difference at the Venice Biennale conclude on November 1st with the experimental music of Curva Chiusa, Chris Blazen and Alex Mendizabal.