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If Art Can Change the World

Sabrina Merolla | Naples, Italy, Italy

Materdei, Naples. July 2015: The Greek Siren Parthenope symbolizes the city of Naples, because that was the Greek name of its first settlement. Here a picture of the reflection of the representation of the city by the renowned artist Francisco Bosoletti on a car window. It decorates one of the walls of the "Giardino Liberato", one of the eight "rescued spaces" then legally recognized by the local Municipality on July 2016. During the last five years numerous international artists have visited the city and decorated the buildings of these new type of city spaces, also attracted by the hearsay about Naples' rebirth.

Can self-governed communities turn over our cities cultural management models?

It seems so in Naples, Italy, where the “open community of artists and cultural workers” l'Asilo has become one of the first legally framed commonly owned goods of Europe.

The l'Asilo is difficult to describe with words. But the beauty of its routine is perfectly shaped through visuals. Based on the idea that culture is an essential right and its free production and share contribute to the collective welfare (social income), this center promotes the return to elementary human relations through cooperation, conviviality and interdependence.

Occupied on March 2012 by a collective of artists from all over Italy, the l'Asilo is today a model administration from the bottom of a municipal property emulated all over Europe. Its regulation, written through the dialogue with local administrators, led the Municipality to recognize seven other rescued spaces in town as common goods (2016), pointing at Naples as a leading model for nowadays' European new-municipalism.


- Part of this reportage supported a long multimedia feature produced for the University of Bolton MA in International Multimedia Journalism (UK/China). I will always be grateful to the great teachers who supported and mentored me through years.

- Thanks to the whole "Community of Artists and Cultural Workers" of the l'Asilo of Naples, Italy (www.exasilofilangieri.it) for their openness and insights.

“Asilo” is an Italian word that translates as “kindergarten” and “refuge”. Accordingly, this is a place where to learn every day from the peaceful interaction with others and be involved in creative activities. But it also is a space where you can develop artistic, cultural and social projects, without paying rent. Hence, nowadays in Italy, we may consider it as a “refuge” for many artists, researchers, and educators.

I was one of them when I firstly entered to this multifunctional center for the artistic and cultural production. Fascinated by the cooperative behaviours of its “residents”, I started to attend the place and, slowly, make up my mind how it was important to document and share its story.

As photographers and journalists, I believe it is a duty to shed a light also on uncovered positive stories, as they illustrate alternative perspectives and behaviours that often fall apart from mainstream news.

Sixty-six percent of world population will live in cities by 2050. With such unprecedented pace of urban growth, achieving the sustainable development of urban areas has become a crucial challenge of the 21st century.

As the global economy winks at collaborative solutions, the urban administrators increasingly show interest in the parallel institutions born after the Occupy Movement. These are communities that reinvented themselves based on equalitarian common sharing practices, proving their sustainability during the economic crisis.

In Europe, the city of Naples has been first to include such a brainchild of civic activism into a full judicial frame. Based on the pilot experience of radical democracy of l'Asilo, it recognized culture as a “commonly owned good”, granting full legal recognition to seven other commonly owned spaces in town.

"Through a Woman's Lens" will enable me to further document the reasons and feelings of the people behind the l'Asilo and the other seven “rescued spaces” of Naples, deepening the little humanizing revolution that is taking place in town, as well as its evolutions during the Italian general political elections of 2018.

Sabrina Merolla

e-mail: smerollaphoto@gmail.com

Mobile: (+39) 3332214230

Website: www.sabrinamerolla.org

Instagram: @sabrinamero

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