13 variations on a baroque theme

“This documentary film wants to tell what have been happening in the last 2 years.  2 years of struggles. Because we strongly want this Heritage to be of everyone, not just of few…” Malastrada.film, 2006

Malastrada.Film is a cultural association founded in 2004 in Paternò (Catania) by Alessandro Gagliardo and Giuseppe Spina (22 years old). In 2006 they collaborated with Antonio Longo and Christian Consoli to produce the documentary “13 variations on a Baroque theme. A ballad to the oilmen of Val di Noto ” (13 variazioni su un tema barocco. Ballata ai petrolieri della Val di Noto) through a bottom-up production: they collected more than 700 co-producers that gave 10 € dues.

Their main purpose was to give evidence to the upcoming drilling that 4 American Oil companies were going to do with the endorsement of the Regional Parliament (ARS) in 4 different areas of the Sicily region.

One of the 4 areas was the so called “Val di Noto”, south-east area of the island worldwide known as a baroque homeland and recognized by the Unesco in its World Heritage List. With the insertion in the list the life and the economy of the area was radically changed: tourism, biological agriculture and so on. The drillings would threatened all the positive changes that had been built in the last years and so farmers, entrepreneurs, students and all the residents have begun protests, but attention to them was poor.

The documentary supports the NoTriv Committee (Committee against drilling for the renewable energy) with the aim to bring the fight to the attention of the national media.

The project was immediately supported by national newspapers like La Repubblica and L’Espresso, by associations, several radios, popular musicians and also several websites among them creativecommons.it (from the beginning Malastrada.Film decided that the documentary would have been distribute with a Creative Commons licence).

The financing system was definitely successful: Malastrada.film was able to collect 500 on-line subscriptions and around 250 (of 10 € each) off-line. They got the budget they needed and 1000 euro extra on top.

The co-producers of the documentary are not only from Sicily. Some co-producers, especially people that were living or working nearby the drilling areas, they subscribed their quote and were themselves part of the shootings, arguing their ideas about the happenings. Other co-producers promoted the project, others found subscriptions, others organized the projections all around Italy.

Thanks to the documentary the complaints for the drillings reached the national newspapers and TV,  the natives asserted their interest to public policies that should have protected their own national heritage and all these was a strong signal that had contributed to the block of the drilling.

I think that this story is an example of how artistic tools can become everyone tools, in this case for the protection and the defense of the own land as a threatened commons.

But I ask me if is possible find a way to facilitate this conception and this use of the creative tools like everyday and everyone tools and, why not, as freedom tools also in a long term and not only in a danger situation

parts of the documentary

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x10il4_13-variazioni-su-un-tema-barocco_news with subtitles


A little uneasy

The story is great, Alessia… but still, I am a little uneasy.

The reason is this: mobilizing people against some change seems systematically easier than mobilizing them for some change. I don’t know Val di Noto, but Val di Susa was hardly the object of a lot of sharing and commonality before the high-speed rail link betweeen Turin and Lyon entered the debate. In that case, it is not clear to me whether “commons” is simply a new, nice buzzword for what, in the 80s, we would dub the NIMBY syndrome.

This is an impossibly entangled issue, of course. So, let me ask you instead: what is going on in Val di Noto? Are citizens harmoniously making the most of  being a Unesco world heritage area?

the maintenance

Alberto, you’ve exactly individuated the issue that implicitly i’ve mentioned in the last phrases.

Escaped the danger, in Val di Noto all had come back to the routine, let withering the power and the beauty of that fighting community. But at the end of 2011 the danger of drilling came back and so the NoTriv Commitee is re-organizing itself.

this situation let me thinking to another, more little, experience: a workshop of urban design realized in Taranto by a design society called Controprogetto. They made a park in a neighborhood’s square that had become the center of drug trade. The design and the costruction of the park had based on the partecipation of above all the children, the families and in general of all the neighborhood: it has been an hard work, but the partecipation was so enthusiastic that  the inhabitants have organized dinners in the square, have aided in the research of materials and plants. A community seemed re-borned!

However passing the time the park is in poor condition and the situation has come back as before the construction of the park.

When the designers of Controprogetto had told me this story, they said that the problem is the lack of an education to maintenance.

And I thought that not only a physical object requires maintenance and for this reason I’m connecting the two experiences: also a community or commons created and defended by a community need “maintenance” of the work done and of the relations created.

yes, is a very complicated issue!

full movie