An answer to "Venice, morte ou vive"

In this day 14th January 2021, the website "Occhio di luce" published an article about Venice, with also an interview on our project. We want to say that Not all the answers we have provided have been reported in the article.

 

We accept the personal freedom of the author on writing the article. At the same time we would like to declare that the image that emerges from the article concerning "Dead Venice" is not what we believe belongs to us.

 

We believe that Venice is full of positive energies, but these energies fail to become a system. Both for political shortcomings (no one doubts it, indeed), and evidently (otherwise we wouldn't be in this situation), most of those who live in this place have no interest that this system change. This for us means killing a city.

A city based on a tourist mono-economy, often run by speculators and organized crime, cannot be defined as a living city. At least in our opinion.

We disclose the positive initiatives of those who live in Venice every day on our social networks, at the same time we carry out research and dissemination on various issues, also making use of research already carried out in the past by associations and realities much more competent than us, but proposing them and spreading them further. We carry out small weekly projects on the city, we actively move when the administration in our opinion acts in the wrong way. The work is manifold. What this great work, initiatives to which we have been compared as "Venezia Viva" (which we consider pure and empty propaganda) do not do. In the meantime, one in five companies is likely to close and some opaque international economic realities (organized crime?) Are buying up part of the empty spaces in this city.

The decline of Venice today is not the same as it was in the 19th century. When we talk about "Dead Venice" (without the verb), we are talking about a situation (or more situations), a photograph, it has nothing to do with 19th century literature, focusing on literary quotations is naive.

We agree that it is the policies that need to change, but if the policy does not change, only people can do something. We try and we want to say to everyone: let's try!

 

Our speech is not in antithesis with those who believe in Venice, on the contrary. To be placed in antithesis to those who push for an increasingly active and proactive city, we find it totally wrong. We do not question the authorial freedom of the journalist, but we distance ourselves from it, pointing out the fact that the narration that is made on the article implicitly and unintentionally puts us in a light that is not ours.

We believe in Venice, we are not necrophiles, for this we praise its death, because it rises again.

 

Indeed, we relaunch the excellent article (and not without criticism of us) by Zero, which makes us a wonderful portrait, through a painstaking and in-depth analysis of all our activities, without stopping at the title of the project.

 

Furthermore, below give you the complete interview made by Occhio di luce, so that you can view all the answers we have provided to the journalist and have a total vision of what we have written.


Why declare Venice dead, what are the missing vital signs for you?

This is a very broad question, to which we will try to answer as succinctly as possible, albeit difficult.

Small premise. We declare "Venice Dead" not because the current pandemic has brought it to its knees, but because we believe it has been so before.

To declare this obviously one must have a yardstick. Our metro is the other major European cities, Paris, Vienna, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Berlin, St. Petersburg, Turin (etc.). Certainly in terms of size and number of inhabitants they are not comparable, since we usually speak of a "lagoon", but as regards vitality, yes. Basically in an international city (always pre-covid) at every corner of the street you continually meet some street artists, musicians, dance groups, art exhibitions. A potpourri of colors, sounds, energies. In comparison there was little or nothing in Venice. Or again with regard to the liveliness of the night: if you are a worker who finishes the shift at midnight, within the moon everything is (almost) closed. Or even if you are a person traveling and passing through Venice. There are hardly any clubs that keep open late. Or again, if we take into consideration the projects on the Arsenale, which today is used very little, only for big events, it turns out that there are some beautiful projects to make it a pole of craftsmanship and small businesses, but they have all been blocked for years. , nothing moves. Up to obviously stellar rents. A Venetian lady and her daughter came to propose € 800 for a 12 sq m room, with the arrogance to reiterate that with that price it was almost a favor because up until two years ago they put it at a thousand euros.

Venice is not dead because there is no activism, mind you, as they say "there are more associations than Venetians". So the ideas are there, the projects (even much more valid than ours, such as OpenSpace, Venice Calls, Arsenale Futuro and many others) are there, the associations as well, the vitality is there, but it is as if everything were plugged, as if living projects are every time the case to applaud and put in the newspaper, rather than being this vitality put into a system with adequate tools that allow new projects to be constantly produced.

The symptoms of all this lack of vitality and the impossibility of building alternatives are denoted by two things: the unstoppable collapse of the inhabitants * and the current black crisis this year, in which one in five places is likely to close. Venice does not attract people and energies, it tends to reject them and its mono-economy easy prey to speculators and international underworld has created a very fragile and precarious economic-social fabric. It is no coincidence that Venice is one of the realities that is suffering the most from this pandemic period.

All these and many more are clear signs that Venice has lost the "sense" of the city and must find it in some way. So for us, at present, she is dead. It is no coincidence that in this period both a university student and an American academic wrote to us, informing us that they are carrying out studies precisely on the decadence of Venice today and on the loss of the sense of "city" of Venice.

 

When should the death of Venice be traced back?

This is another very complex and broad question to which we prefer to leave the answer to the historians, also because it depends a lot on which point of view you want to analyze the matter. In our opinion the last decline (the one in progress) dates back to the 80s, when it was understood that this city could be a goose that lays golden eggs and everyone started to put their hands on it, from small tenants, to large entrepreneurs, up to organized crime.

 

We can think that the city is "kept alive" thanks to the enormous tourist flows that still allow people to get rich and others to work precariously. In your opinion, what role did the pandemic play in this context of the "death of Venice"?

Our fundamental point is: to be an open-air archaeological playground, in which those who live there in most cases, can aspire to be a waiter for € 800 a month, or an illegal worker in some island or artistic reality, without being able to field a personal project, because the reality around him is focused solely on welcoming hit and run tourism and has exaggerated costs to be realized, is it life? We don't think so. Also because there is another fact to underline: the stay of tourists in the city. They stay in Venice for an average of 2.3 days, while in most other international cities, from 2.5 to 6/7 days. Perhaps it is more correct to speak of ordered raids rather than tourism. A foretold social suicide.

The pandemic simply speeded up a process that was already underway, a system already is in crisis and was (and is) unable to find alternatives.

There are those in the blockade that the pandemic has imposed on mass tourism sees an opportunity for the city. In your opinion, can Venice "resurrect"?

As the cliché dictates: every crisis is an opportunity. So yes, there is the possibility of a rebirth and we hope so. Our big concern is the following: a huge void is opening up in Venice (vacant premises, closure of businesses, hotels, the economy is no longer running) and when a void opens someone will fill it. Either speculators and organized underworld fill it, who have great economic capacities and can't wait to restart the whole machine of mass tourism, continuing to lower the quality of life in the city for pure profit, or people fill it with good will, who viscerally believe in the idea of a liveable city full of opportunities, entrepreneurial activities and projects.

Now, in this context, what is your goal with the manifesto and the site? I understand that more than a political project, there is an appeal to citizens to build their projects in Venice, insisting on finding work, renting studios or houses, crashing where difficulties are encountered. For you, can this be enough to trigger a dynamic capable of bringing about concrete changes for the city?

Our goal is to shake up. For us Venice at present is an extinguished fire, inside which there are still many embers. We would like to participate in a rebirth of this fire. Certainly what we propose is not enough to revive the city in other forms, many before us have tried, we are not the first and we are certainly not the best, quite the contrary! But the concept that we would like to pass strong is this: for a thousand reasons, politics does not actually respond to the needs of rebirth of this city, so if you really love this place what can you do, if not throw yourself, Do I also risk my own security and putting my own person at stake? Act, tell and count on us.

*Note. It is true that there are many people who live in Venice and are not registered citizens, but if the number continues to decline, it still means that people do not settle for a long time, otherwise they would register their residence. So the problem exists.

Venice Dead