Facewall Prato | 100 possible interwoven worlds
More and more often, museum exhibitions are designed in such a way as to stimulate the initiative of their visitors, inviting both adults and children to explore “special effects” by touching a screen or passing through a field of sensors. The Facewall project offers something more.
The difference lies in the fact that while the contexts generated by the above kind of initiative are generally artificial scenarios specifically designed to stimulate curiosity, the Facewall project is enrooted in the very real context of the city of Prato.
The objective of the Facewall project is to highlight the vast network of robust, peaceful, intelligent and pleasant relationships established by citizens of Prato from various ethnicities and backgrounds and thus to lift the thick blanket of prejudice and communicative and mental barriers which obscures these highly positive and often productive interactions.
The Facewall project commenced in 2013 with the taking of one hundred photos of meetings, rendez-vous, appointments, work relationships and friendships involving citizens of Prato of different ethnicities. These photos were then printed onto ten thousand pennants which, in 2014, were hung from windows and balconies and in streets and squares throughout the city of Prato. On the first day of spring of 2015, the initiative progressed further with the inauguration of an interactive exhibition at Prato Textile Museum in which 50 short videos were combined with a display of the photos and pennants to offer an event which examines the manifold lines of dialogue and mutual learning present and enrooted in the social fabric of a city populated by 118 different mother tongues and ethnicities.
Marianella Sclavi, sociologist, has taught urban ethnography, the art of listening and creative management of conflict at Milan Polytechnic and has worked on numerous projects focusing on the redevelopment of rundown areas and the design of public spaces commissioned by various Italian provinces, regional institutions, schools and non-governmental organizations.
It all started one afternoon in the summer of 2013 when two Chinese men and three Italians found themselves speaking of the need to improve the image of Prato, to try and change the perception of those who observe the town from outside and those who live within the city walls by setting up a cultural marketing project to encourage and promote exchanges between the people and the possibilities of the future.
The two Chinese men were Wang Li Ping, chairman of China World, and Shi Yang Shi, actor, while the three Italians were Andrea Cavicchi, chairman of Prato Industrial Union, Claudio Bettazzi, chairman of National Federation of Craft and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, and Cristina Pezzoli, film director. The place they met was Compost, an independent arts centre in Prato. The idea that hung in the air before they each took their leave that evening was ‘to change the face of the city’. Some months later, this first input was developed into the Facewall project, an artistic initiative involving the production of 100 photographs, each portraying two residents of Prato of different nationalities doing something they do every day in the city: work, sport, love.
The photos were then printed onto 10,000 pennants and, between December 2013 and June 2014, distributed free of charge to everyone in the city in order that they could be hung from windows and balconies throughout Prato.
A friend of mine living in China told me that the Chinese phrase “Qiu Da Tong Cun Xiao Yi” can be translated as something similar to “favour big communal projects and conserve the small differences therein”. Over the years I have learned that for a second generation immigrant of Chinese origin, putting the teachings of Marianella Sclavi - “leave the frame” or “change your glasses” – into practice is an undertaking which requires an enormous and constant effort. The opening of the Facewall project exhibition today takes me back to the hours I dedicated to the “Why am I here” project of 2012, the year in which, led by Cristina Pezzoli and Letizia Russo, the artistes of Compost created the first "stone bridge" to encourage dialogue between Italian, Chinese and other citizens of Prato.
Updated on 2015-04-13T12:29:24+00:00, by .