Claudia Bernardi: In the last year, there were several OCCUPATIONS OF THEATERS AND CINEMAS all over Italy. There is a kind of network of independent spaces for culture.
In the past year, there are two examples in Rome that are worth speaking about. The first one is Nuovo Cinema Palazzo, a very old cinema, where the local government recently decided to build a casino there. So, all the population organized—there are even comrades of ESC squatting there, and migrants and even residents of 70, 80 years old, migrants, several artists and care workers. After one year of struggle, occupiers have been recognized as a ‘multitude’ by the same court—as a multitude of people resisting against the casino and as legitimate to take back the place. Now, there are several independent projects: theater, performances, children’s activities, a free room for study—libraries in La Sapienza are open for only three hours a day now, and they are going to be completely closed from September—language courses, spaces for migrants.
It’s really a heterogeneous space and we are creating knowledge about ‘what is an occupation of a cultural space?’ What does it mean to, not only defend culture and to resist the attacks of the government, but to create a new way of the production of culture? That’s the main antidote to the attacks of the government.
The second one is Teatro Valle. It’s the oldest theater in Rome, built in 1727. It was going to be closed, so a group of artists decided to occupy it—developing a common way to build up a common constitution through a large process of definition of new norms to organize and manage the space, affirming theatre as an institution of the common. They are finding out a new way, inside and against the Italian law, to create new norms that legitimate the space as part of ‘commons’ To build up these open spaces, we had several debates to create that status with the lawyer, philosophers, journalists, and all the artists. They wrote this statute that is free and available to be modified on the website, and after months, they are collecting all the advice from people and raising funds to create a foundation. They are producing law “from below” and, at the same time, they are creating anomalous norms that will be available for everybody.
[from “Contaminating the University, Creating Autonomous Knowledge: Occupied Social and Cultural Centers in Italy - an interview with Claudia Bernardi”]