Moving from an Online Petition to an Informal Network of Artist-Activists: Protest and Participation in Palermo

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 15:00
Location: Hörsaal 6D P (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Marilena MACALUSO, Universita' degli Studi di Palermo, Italy
This paper will concern with the new forms of political participation starting from the study of the case of the online petition against the public sponsorship by the local municipality (Comune di Palermo) of the exposition by Hermann Nitsch known as an exponent of Viennese Actionism. The online petition (posted on Change.org and spreading on the social networks) that in short time has almost collected 70.500 signatures can represent an interesting example of online mobilisation and above all a case of creation – as unexpected effect – of an a non-profit informal network of artists able to create new forms of solidarity, mutualism and resistance against the progressive colonization not only of politics, but also of art by the economy, profit and market. In spite of the failure of the initial aim of the petition (the cancellation of the show evaluated by the petition’s promoters and signers violating the Universal Declaration of Animal Rights – Unesco 1978), more than 100 local and national artists have organized (meeting online on the social network and than creating the new website Incontemporanea.org as hub) a series of expositions and performances in Palermo. In order to encourage other painters, photographers, sculptors, dancers, street artists, creative talents and simple artisans to work together for the town and to fostering a different idea of art.

In particular, on the one hand, this article will examine the online petition as a form of bottom-up reaction to a missing top-down public engagement in the local cultural policy-making process (in a meso-perspective), and on the other hand the article will study the political, organizational and communicative features of the informal network above-mentioned, using participant observation (on and offline) and in-depth interviews of artist-activists and privileged testimonies (in a micro-perspective).