“The rigid, isolated object (work, novel, book) is of no use whatsoever. It must be inserted into the context of living social relations.”
Walter Benjamin, The Artist as Producer1
For the 1:1 Stopover at the Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova (+MSUM) in Ljubljana, Isola Art Center presents Lab Fight-Specific Isola curated by Camilla Pin and Bert Theis
with Antonio Brizioli, Tania Bruguera, Angelo Castucci, Edna Gee, Grupo Etcetera, Maddalena Fragnito, out-Office for Urban Transformation, Maria Papadimitriou, Dan Perjovschi, Steve Piccolo, Camilla Pin, Edith Poirier, Christoph Schäfer, Mariette Schiltz, Sašo Sedlaček, Bert Theis, Camilla Topuntoli, Nikola Uzunovski, Daniele Rossi, Wei-Ning Yang and others.
Isola Art Center is an open platform of experimentation for contemporary art that has developed in the Isola neighborhood in Milan, Italy. Grappling for over one decade with an urban situation crossed by conflicts and widespread transformations, the project remains “no-budget”, precarious and ultralocal. Abolishing any vertical logic of labor, the process of Isola Art Center engages Italian and international artists, critics and curators, art collectives, activists, architects, researchers, students and associations of neighborhood residents. The Isola neighborhood has been undergoing processes of gentrification for some time, with policies of capitalist territorialization that directly undermine the social character of the zone itself, which is being increasingly privatized and deprived of shared, collective spaces, threatening fundamental rights of urban existence.
Isola Art Center operates with an instituent2 practice that implements escape routes from the neo-liberal logic of financial and real estate speculation, working with art as a disruptive tool of revelation and exposure.
Lab Fight-Specific Isola in Ljubljana is a workshop that operates with elements from the 13 years of history and the present praxis of Isola Art Center, which are presented in 1:1 format. The workshop is structured around three types of components: situations, publications and materializations.
The situations we propose are collective works where artists and curators intervene in a horizontal way. A screen printing workshop, several wall paintings, moments of gathering, the flight of the Isola Sun-Cloud produced to create a new horizon against real estate speculation at Isola, and finally the presentation of the book “Fight-Specific Isola” which narrates the neighborhood struggle.
The publications shown in the space, besides the Fight-Specific Isola book, include prototypes produced by different artists, while the materializations are fight-specific works created in the context of the Isola neighborhood.
With the workshop at the +MSUM in Ljubljana, Isola Art Center sets out to share the specific terminologies and concepts developed during years of struggle, in the conviction that they can be useful as weapons in other conflicts or urban mobilizations. In particular, the idea of operating in a dirty cube, rejecting the distorting “beautification” of the occupied building; the encoding of a fight-specific art, able to take concrete forms depending on local necessities; and the notion of the dispersed center, which makes it possible to think of the art center not as a physical space, but as an attitude of the mind and body.
With Lab Fight-Specific Isola we want to trigger imaginaries of urban practices, calling forth another unconscious and the desire for other forms of relation.
2 Gerald Raunig sees the instituent practice not as an action against the institution, but as a flight from institutionalization and structuring. If the term institution suggests a static quality, the idea is to replace that static nature with the organization of a dynamic praxis. See Instituent Practices, No. 2 Institutional Critique, Constituent Power, and the Persistence of Instituting, January 2007, available at www.eipcp.net/transversal