The Author : Vittorio Parisi
Vittorio Parisi holds a doctorate in Aesthetics from the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and is currently in charge of studies and research at the Villa Arson school of visual arts in Nice. His research activity focuses on the relationship between art and urban non-places, as well as on the relationship between street art, the institutional world of art and the cultural industry.
A political, cultural and social current categorised as extreme left or ultra-left by most journalists, sociologists and historians, Autonomism claims and cultivates autonomy from trade unions, state domination and capitalism. The movement appeared in Italy in the 1960s, but also developed in France, Spain and Germany, inspired by the libertarian currents that emerged in May 1968, such as situationism, and developed into various forms. The movement defended riots, advocated forms of insurrectional or illegal action for workers, peasants, students, squatters and undocumented migrants. The Autonomism of the 1970s in Italy was also characterised by the practice of sabotage (arson, bomb attacks) and revolutionary banditry. Like the anarchists, they spoke of “immediate communism”, i.e. without a transitional phase.
Formally created in July 1957 and self-dissolved in 1972, the Situationist International was an organisation of revolutionary theorists and strategists operating in political and cultural fields who wanted to put an end to historical misfortune, the class society and the dictatorship of commodities. They are notably in the line of descent from Marxist thought (Rosa Luxembourg), from council communism (the anti-Leninist Marxist current which appeared in France in 1918 in the continuity of the workers’ movement) and from the group Socialisme ou barbarie (the French anti-Stalinist Marxist revolutionary organisation created in 1948). One of their chief objectives was the fulfilment of the promises contained in the development of the contemporary production apparatus and the liberation of historical conditions by a re-appropriation of the real in all areas of life. The surpassing of art was their original project.
Non-places include both the facilities needed for the accelerated movement of people and goods (expressways, interchanges, railway stations, airports) and the means of transport themselves (cars, trains or planes). They also include large hotel chains with interchangeable rooms, supermarkets or, in a different form, the extended transit camps where the world’s refugees are parked. Non-place is therefore the very opposite of a dwelling, a residence, a place in the common sense of the term. Alone, but similar to others, the user of the non-place maintains a contractual relationship with it, symbolised by the train or plane ticket, the card presented at a tollgate or even the shopping cart pushed through the aisles of a supermarket. In these non-places, anonymity can only be conquered by providing proof of one’s identity – a passport, credit card, cheque or any other permit that authorises access to the site.