Project Detail: If Art Can Change the World


LuganoPhotoDays 2018




sabrina merolla


Project Info

If Art Can Change the World

“Be realistic, demand the impossible.”

(Paris, May 1968)

Could a self-governed community of artists and socio-cultural workers turn over our cities management models?

It seems so in Naples, Italy, where the “open and horizontal community of artists and cultural workers”, l'Asilo has become the first judicially framed common(ly owned) good of Europe.

Occupied on March 2012 by a collective of activists from all over Italy, the l'Asilo has today become a model administration from the bottom of a municipal property, studied and emulated from Palermo to Turin, Madrid and Athens, among the others.

The Regulation of Civic and Collective Urban Use of l'Asilo, born to describe the community's daily practices (2012-2015), was written through the dialogue with the local administrators. And it quickly led Mayor Luigi DeMagistris' Municipality to recognize seven other rescued spaces in town as common goods (2016), pointing at Naples as a leading model for nowadays' new-municipalism.

The l'Asilo is difficult to describe with words, but the beauty of its daily practices can be easily shaped through visuals. Based on the idea that culture is an essential right and its free production and share contribute to the collective welfare (social income), this multifunctional center promotes the return to the most elementary human relations, through cooperative, non-competitive and interdependent actions. Fascinated by the communitarian attitude of its “residents”, I have documented its story. A story that has also become the story of Naples and its rebirth; as the story of a network of municipalities that represent a different Europe, torn away from the general neoliberal radicalization of every field of living.

I believe that, as photographers and journalists, it is our duty to shed a light also on less-sensationalistic positive stories left apart from mainstream news. As they may illustrate alternative solutions to the main global contemporary issues.

If Art Can Change the World also is a long multimedia feature developed and self-published on Readymag: