Culture as a tool of emancipation for the city and for man occupies abandoned spaces, converts uses and claims a universal right: to live

The Capital of Italy between archeology and metropolitan visions: what is moving and produced in the world of youth culture, far from the changes of seats that polarize current events?

We met some of the protagonists of this timid but well-organised creative revolution, and discovered that, in the center as in the suburbs, there is a constellation of cross-breeding places strong>, in functions as well as in human geography, engaged in experimenting with new models of sharing.

Our journey into underground Rome, which has no claim to be exhaustive, starts from the Palestra Popolare del Quarticciolo, a neighborhood on the eastern outskirts of Rome and a historic anti-fascist village. Much more than a basement in which to train, the premises of the publicly owned building are a territorial defense in defense of the right to live.

"High levels of unemployment and school dropout, low income and high percentage of prisoners serving alternative sentences: here the statistical panorama is decidedly complex", Pietro Vicari explains to us , among the founders of the Asd association.

“Sport allows us to monitor how girls and boys grow, whether they eat, sleep, are regular in the commitments they take on”, a bit on the model of the gyms of the Brazilian favelas: meeting places where students meet to do their homework and adults arrange weddings.

If the Quarticcolo is a neighborhood with poor internal mobility, Metropoliz, the city mixed in the eastern outskirts of Rome in the Tor Sapienza area, it is a decidedly multi-ethnic place: Italians in a state of fragility, refugees, migrants coexist here.

It is in this part of the capital that Giorgio De Finis, anthropologist, writer, independent curator, former director of the Museum of the suburbs of Tor Bella Monaca and editor of the book Unauthorised. Disobedient art in urban spacefounded the Maam, the museum of the Underworld and Elsewhere: an exhibition space open to the public inside of a former Fiorucci sausage factory occupied in 2009 by the BPM (Blocchi Precari Metropolitani): "here we don't color walls, here we produce art to denounce the housing emergency", creating devices with high participation is a way of making the city aware of an increasingly widespread fragility. Not only in Rome.

“Properties are created to be inhabited by urban humans, this must be remembered, because financial mechanisms, playing upwards, enhance the void. Many people still do not realize the impact that the financialisation of square meters has on the social state: today for migrants and precarious workers to have access to a house is prohibitive. And to live is a universal right."

Those who live in the premises of Metropoliz, Spin Time and PortoFluviale, three occupied areas of Rome, are not clever: "these are people who they are unable to support themselves, pay the rent, buy a house. Those who live on the margins of this process of progressive scrapping are the first of a series of groups that see us all lined up."

Today the convergence of all the actors that revolve around this practiced utopia, militants, property owners and the Municipality, give rise to hope regarding the implementation of the Rome Housing Plan: "on the table is the intention to build, thanks to Pnrr funds, 100 homes in public housing".

The regeneration of this space would allow the 60 families to be relocated and accommodated, rather than evicting them with fire hydrants. “The same happy ending can be imagined for two other historic occupations: Spin Time and PortoFluviale. The papers are still on the tables of the relevant offices, prefecture, councillor, mayor”, concludes De Finis. We follow the developments.

Among the collective places of sharing, co-creation and co-imagination of the Capital, we highlight four other virtuous examples: a laboratory of social relationships, the Cinema Troisi, which promotes a new model of cinema, a suburban cultural outpost; of a museum for the imagination, the Macro, which becomes a magazine for reading the work of artists and investigate contemporaneity; of a garage converted into a performance hub, Basement Roma, aimed at investigating the field of contemporary art , critical debate, digital culture and the 'new now'; of an artist-run space, In Situ, which activates a very young community of artists in Tor Bellamonaca creative.

1. Cinema Troisi

Valerio Carocci is, "with the other guys from the Piccolo America Foundation, the one who manages the renovated and renovated Cinema Troisi, where new and old films are screened and people study up to late at night”, writes Marianna Rizzini about him in Il Foglio.

The background. Student, entrepreneur, cultural animator, he is the President of an association of around forty young people who occupied the premises of the America cinema in 2012. “The fact is that in the center of the capital there are no meeting spaces for those who study there and live on the outskirts: it was necessary to make space”, he explains. “Finding empty premises to convert into a place of aggregation, dialogue and cultural exchange is a question of logic and necessity”.

The occupation of America ends with the eviction of 2014, from then on the film programming continues in an itinerant mode: a month and a half of outdoor screenings in three different locations in the city (Piazza San Cosimato) and two in the suburbs (Mount Ciocci and Cervelletta Park) is such a success that the mayor Roberto Gualtieri, upon taking office, releases 250 thousand euros in funding for the project.

But the objective of Carocci and his team is to take root, to become a point of reference for a growing cultural community: "in 2016 we won the 'Common Heritage' tender for the redevelopment of the Cinema Troisi", which will be inaugurated in September 2021.

The Cinema Troisi is a unique space in the European panorama: 300 seats for a program that covers the day from 11.00 to 3.00 at nightand which last year earned it the 'Golden Ticket' award (with 90 thousand admissions). “The interiors are all designed to be together: from the foyer to the study room-library, open 24 hours a day. Troisi is a place of culture, an island that never existed for those who, like us, want to experience the center of the capital from the outskirts."

2. MACRO

Or 'Museum for Preventive Imagination', is the museum of Contemporary Art which, since the beginning of 2020 and under the artistic direction ofLuca LoPinto , has adopted the experimental structure of a magazine, as a tool for reading the work of artists and a method of investigating contemporaneity.

Season after season, each room of the museum has told, under the title of a yellow entrance banner, a specific language or point of view, bringing out often unpublished stories and figures to browse freely.

Until February 18, 2024, on show 'Barrikadenwetter. Visual Acts of the Insurrection', edited by Wolfgang Scheppe, Bastiaan van der Velden, Sara Codotta, Eleonora Sovrani (Arsenale Institute, Venice): 'time of barricades' is the moment of transition in which a revolutionary subject emerges in collective action and is reified as an obstacle in opposition to the established order.

The first part of the year will see a new schedule of exhibitions that will update the cultural offer with a multidisciplinary approach as always and with different focuses dedicated to the city of Rome. Also unmissable from February 9th is the exhibition '25 Years of Always Stress with BLESS', by the Parisian and Berlin duo Bless.

3. Basement Rome

The project led by Cura, a performance hub founded by Ilaria Marotta and Andrea Baccin aimed at investigating the field of contemporary art, debate critical, of digital culture and of the 'new now', has had a new exhibition space since February 2023: a former garage in the Prati neighbourhood, in Viale Mazzini 128.

Among the many activities he carries out, from the publication of an international biannual magazine to the artistic direction of exhibitions, biennials, festivals and site-specific projects, he also produces personal exhibitions. With this new venue it celebrated ten years of exhibition activity, reaffirming an interest in the most current proposals of the contemporary art scene in its most avant-garde and significant expressions.

The programming of the new space has so far hosted the first solo exhibition in Italy of the French artist Sara Sadik, 'Xenon Palace: Crystal Zastruga', the result of a collaboration that involved also Villa Medici and the Kunsthalle Lissabon; 'Fall', Özgür Kar's first solo exhibition in Italy and 'The Contest of the Fruits' by the Slavs and Tatars collective. The next exhibition, 'Player Character' by Jon Rafman, will open on February 28, 2024.

4. In Situ

Located in Tor Bellamonaca, on the outskirts of Rome, it was born in 2016 as an artist-run space: an exhibition space for eleven artist studios to propose and enhance the research of emerging artists.

Annually In Situ hosts a collective which, through the gaze of a guest curator, photographs the dynamics of contemporary art: 2023 was the year of Caterina Taurelli Salimbeni who curated the exhibition for the space 'Solar Dogs': an exhibition that tested the relationship between reality and fiction as a condition of contemporary experience. The title refers to the 'sun dog' (or parelion), a rare optical phenomenon which causes two suns to be visible in the sky.

Freely inspired by the text 'The Invention of Morel' by Adolfo Bioy Casares, in which the appearance of the double sun insinuates in the author the doubt that what he observes is not entirely real, the exhibition presents itself in the form of a meta- storytelling. In fact, the collective exhibition goes beyond the confines of the exhibition as such to project the public into a fictitious dimension, in which the uncanny is the protagonist of an aseptic and surreal scene.