It is finally clear that graffiti writing is living within a great ambiguity. It is like if this practice was stuck between the two blades of a hypothetical scissors; the first blade represents criminalization and the second one, institutionalization. So, if on one side repressive laws and devices are implemented (both on state and local plan), on the other side writing graffiti becomes a fundamental part in the institutional artistic landscape. And while public spaces for the practice of graffiti become more restricted due to repression, on the other side the same practice is pushed toward a definitive “normalization” (nowadays, we can even buy writers’ works on television). The market business sees a profit opportunity in writing, an opportunity centered on the reconfirmation of both the traditional role of the artist as an individual author and of art as expression of uniqueness, and if this uniqueness brings out canvas in mass production that’s even better. This commercial logic is joined by the perception of writing as a didactical instrument to spread a sort of “urban politically correct” where bombing is driven to street-design and decoration. This is how writing risks to be reduced to a mere “exercise in style”, getting rid of any “disruptive” potential.
Our aim is to organize a workshop to reflect on writing, addressed to whom, personally, gets ahead with this practice. Headlines proposes a different way of acting, developing a closer examination through works, actions, interviews and debates which investigate in how to renew the critical outcome of writing, compared to the social dynamics in the contemporary city.
During these times of crisis, when devices for control and repression get always stronger, it becomes necessary to take steps to let writing deal with old and new metropolitan contradictions , act in those spaces which are left empty and regain the instruments that guarantee its survival.
We feel the need to recover and update the evocative power of graffiti, to renew the subversive act of the first writers (but not offering a parody of it), to attack over again the walls and to arouse the consciousnesses, carrying out this practice together with an active work for what concerns the creation of the common, that aims to overthrow the devices of contemporary control.
Once again, this is all about taking back what’s ours, about being able again to freely exercise the transformation of the city, bypassing the connivance between exhibition spaces and market, and hopefully to start planning alternative economic circuits to finance our spaces and our initiatives.
Finally, once again, it is all about accepting a challenge.
The exhibition of Headlines is located at SaLE Docks, a space for independent cultural production, placed in the heart of the “slat of the contemporary” in Venice. Independence is indeed the keyword of the project, and the program of SaLE Docks isn’t ever separable from a way of understanding art as a field of investigation and intervention in real life, always far from every simplistic rhetoric related to public art or default templates.