The initiative of C.A.S.A. "To the Future Public" must first be distinguished from the chorus of dissatisfaction because of exclusion, from debates created as a pretext for some precise purpose, and from those who have complained generically against d14 without ever proposing substantive alternatives.
The symbol of Trojan horse chosen for "To the Future Public" follows a logic in my view pure, honest, effective, and consistent. CASA's actions insert themselves in the existing system but denying its elitist characteristics, and dig a furrow in social life, out of the spaces set up to art, sowing in social life.
The fruits of this sowing are immediately visible. The encounter in the public space creates ephemeral communities that transform into a network of relationships overcoming every ethnic, cultural, political, disciplinary boundary, creating art through the possibility of recovering sociality and urban spaces.
The tactic is not aimed at "striking" but at "touching"; not to scandalize but to raise awareness. Not to simply denounce, just as generic issue, but to act as much as possible towards a change in a real act of participation.
The criticism from CASA to d14 does not have the character of prejudice, but of an opinion given by those who have participated and acted constructively on the cultural and artistic scene of Athens in the last year, doing art with a sense of belonging to the polis, and therefore politically in the sense of an authentic exercise of polis citizenship, rather than in the ideological sense of the term (*1).
I had a chance to discuss with James about the crisis, about art, about Athens, during a conference hosted by CASA in the framework of AB5to6 (*2).
On that occasion, I spoke about Performance Art as a social and anthropological phenomenon that takes on the most authentic aspects of a society from a peripheral point of view and without the aesthetic filters of the traditional containers of art, generating aesthetics directly in doing and in intervening.
During my talk I was citing Pasolini when he says that the body is a territory not yet colonized by the "power". Following this concept of inviolable "locality" of corporeal identity, we can reverse the generally accepted viewpoint of a globalizing look on geopolitical, economic, and cultural panorama of the world.
Making performance art today, as I said before, means embody, incorporate. Incarnation, today, does not mean to embody something abstract and "other" from us, but rather, give back a body to ourselves, re-signifying our presence, and contribute in giving a sense to the social environment that surrounds us.
In Marta Lodola's project (*3) I found renewed the concept expressed in our first collaboration in which the presence of the body has been used as a vital form of political, ethic and poetic statement, of existence / resistance of the individual in society.
In relationship to d14, my personal opinion is that from the beginning no one should have expected something different than what happened. Athens and Kassel in their present situation are culturally, economically, and socially in a real distance, and politically they are part of two different realities playing opposites roles.
Athens is in a delicate situation in which the old social/political system is finally fallen, and the hypothetically new is unable to achieve any real autonomy, being constantly blackmailed from the international markets. Also, there is a real difficulty in finding different political positions and identities because the fall of the old system happened too late and was too fast, letting no time to culturally develop any other alternative model.
Artistically also, Athens has to elaborate its own possible identity in the historical present, trying to avoid to follow charming sirens of internationally recognized concepts and definitions, which are not rooted in local culture, and therefore which are not expression of a real need, but instead, of a market-internationalism in which one can easily identify himself uncritically.
"We are the natives" is an article I wrote about a year ago, and in which I distinguish two fundamental souls which are historically characterizing Europe.
In one of the souls I identify the concept of Agora as the ideally central place of the democratic polis, and in which the founding symbols of the civil community - the parliament, the temple and the market - traditionally coexist. This model was inherited from the medieval city and then from the Renaissance, centrally maintaining the market space devoted to everyday life and to the presence of the people, who could at any time interweave with the symbols of the political and religious power.
I identify the other soul in the forms of the last large square built in Europe (Potsdamer Platz, Berlin), which is reflecting the marriage between Protestant culture and capitalism, and where shopping centres internalize the social space and the sacredness of being together, flattening the space for commerce (intended also more generally as "exchange" between people), and privatizing the public domain of this exchange. The separation of the square from the parliament and the economic power, means the separation from their availability to the people, which makes impossible to access them and change them.
The French Revolution has been possible because the symbols of power were reachable from the people.
Today, the central Square (the heart of today's polis) has been taken from another Revolution; not that of the peoples, but that of a counter-Revolution against the historical achievements of civil and social rights. In this confrontation between the masses and little elites of economical interests, the people remains faithful to Democracy, watching stunned the merciless vehemence of the Robespierres of New Liberalism.
The Polis in which the Trojan Horse of CASA enters has already been plundered. The siege is over, the catharsis of the fall has already taken place. Like many other times in its long history, Athens has to start again, finding an orientation in a new environment, which is that of a forced globalization.
I believe that only giving space to what is moving at the periphery of the North, and of its hegemonic expansion, we will create the conditions for alternative models of cultural, political, and economic identity. This is not only a question of survive, but also of regenerating a cultural identity (and I am NOT talking of mere conservation).
Only by bringing the Agorà elements to a position of mutual balance, and keeping the space of exchange between people in the center, we can have institutions (social, political, economical, and cultural institutions) that resemble us.
Francesco Kiais for CASA's “To the Future Public”.
Associate Curator at VENICE INTERNATIONAL PERFORMANCE ART WEEK
Collaborating as a teacher and theoretician at several educational programs
Creator and co-founder of the [MIND THE] G.A.P. - Gathering Around Performance
The work of Francesco Kiais ranges now from installation to video, to performance art. He collaborated as an artist, writer in the catalog, curator, co-curator, producer, cultural advisor at various artistic and cultural projects, exhibitions, at institutions and galleries.
In recent years, he extended his work research to the pedagogical and didactic potential of the artistic/performative practice, working also with children and adolescents.
He focused now his activity on the artistic practice and promotion of Performance Art, as well on the analysis of the many different forms of actuation of a Performance.