ita       eng

artistic practices in conflict places

The Yes Men/workshop

photo by Silvia Giannini

26th > 27th September
Florence, Cantieri Goldonetta

They are well-known to the international audience for having mocked important institutions like the World Trade Organization or multinational corporations like Dow Chemical. How ? Nothing is simpler and easier to do: a sham web site clone of that of the mocked institutions used to get invited to important international assemblies as delegates of the above said institutions. It is like this that speaking in behalf of the World Trade Organization Dr. Andreas Bichlbauer, alias Andy Bichlbaum of The Yes Men, has proposed to comply, in democracy, the whole hog with the neoliberist principles selling the votes to the best bidder. Or Jude Finisterra, still Andy Bichlbaum, live on English TV BBC, interviewed as delegate of Dow Chemical, has announced on the anniversary of Bhopal's bloodshed which caused 25.000 deaths, that the company decided to recoup the victims, bringing like this an immediate collapse of Dow's shares. These are only some examples among the uncountable incursions which The Yes Men achieved from 2000 to this day through their work of "identity correction". Since, still in The Yes Men's language, their work helps, whom from time to time they are focusing on, to give a correct image of themselves, of their goals and values. It is like this that, again with their work of "identity correction" concerning Dow Chemical, Erastus Hamm, still Andy, goes to a bankers' lecture in London as delegate of Dow. Andy on that occasion will appear in public accompanied by a golden skeleton to introduce the project Acceptable Risk Calculator, a software which enables to include in the economic count the risk of bloodshed or environmental disaster because, in the end, having skeletons in the wardrobe can be very profitable for a company! It is with this background of experiences that The Yes Men asked to the young artists, before their arrival in the city of Florence, in order to prepare the workshop to be set up for Networking 2007, to think about what an activist project can be. Each participant was invited to describe what for him/her an activist project is and which were the themes and the ways to create an activist project for the city of Florence. The first workshop day was committed to the definition of the projects of the participants. The question that Andy Bichlbaum often has made to the young artists to deepen their project was about the effects which their action produced for the city. The bet of the greatest part of the works made was that of managing to arrive to a large audience, beyond the art world one, to be able to obtain a change in the way of living and of thinkinga. With this frame of mind different projects were born, each of these though, starting with a specific pressing situation on the city. Shine on is a project of distribution to the homeless of Florence of heating blankets.
The golden blankets are very cheap, give shelter from cold; they are super light and they make the homeless "golden". The projects Sportello amico and Brunch pertain to the difficulty for the foreigners to obtain a permit of stay in Italy, for which, after having regularly submitted the request, it is common to wait for many months before actually taking possess of it.This situation of waiting, uncertainty and locking up is recreated in both the presented projects as the condition in which to carry out 'normal' daily activities, like visiting an exhibition in Sportello amico or take part to a party in Brunch. Relations between centre and border which can also be encountered within the mass-media, an area to which some of the projects performed address. The project Democracy, deals with the faculty of the media of building a space of common sense. The project plans the covering of the ads placards with white sheets with the writing "democracy" on them in Braille's language. The project Gayometer uses, instead, straight the ads's language, and was born following the polemics provoked by the ad campaign to contrast the homophoby of the region Tuscany; it manufactures some ads' broadsheets through which everybody can measure his/her rate of homosexuality by answering simple questions, maybe imagining as possible an Eden inhabited by two males. The faculty of the media of ordering the public agenda is re-considered by the project Hotty Spot in which a website is able to attract visitors promising the latest gossips concerning the pop stars of the moment. In this way the web source addresses the unaware visitor to the research of gossip on but, once the home page of the website is passed, and it is perfectly consistent with the expectations, the internal pages present articles concerning the forgotten wars of the Third World or life conditions in actual prison camps. The Death of the Renaissance carries out instead the reuse of ads' placards hanging on the facade of Palazzo Pitti to shift the attention of the tourist visiting Florence towards other events worth of attention. In this way using the very same neo-renaissance graphics important events for the present of the city are advertised; like the Professional Course for window cleaner, another of the projects worked out during the workshop. Born by the public debates concerning the possibility of doing the job of window cleaner at the traffic lights of the city, the course plans the training of the participants on the techniques of window cleaning, on the marketing, on "good-looking" and on good manners towards the customer. Enrolments have already been very numerous.

Text published on on December 17th, 2007

Jens Haaningworkshop Mario Rizziworkshop Guerrila Girlsexhibition Live Your Lifesocial lab Postfordist realitysocial lab The Yes Menworkshop Social Impactworkshop Gecekonduexhibition