Guest author: Davide Leone
Why do we make research? This is a simple question that always I make to myself. There are many answers but one of that is because there are places, people and events like “tracce urbane” (urban paths or urban traces it is a play on words). Every year a group of researchers organizes one of the best conferences in Italy. The first thing to highlight is that participation is absolutely free. So from the beginning this conference appears to be different from the others. There are not schools or positions to defend but only ideas to compare. It is different because every year the conference tries to open its themes to the citizenship. These heroes of research are: Giovanni Attili, Adriano Cancelleri, Carlo Cellamare, Francesca Cognetti, Ferdinando Fava, Elena Ostanel, Caterina Satta, Giuseppe Scandurra. Another strange thing is that there is not a real hierarchy in this group of people, while another particularity is that the group is really heterogeneous, so there are anthropologists, planners and sociologist.
This year the conference took place in Venice, june 18 to 20. The first 2 days were held in the architecture faculty and the last day in an occupied theatre at Lido of Venice. The themes of the conference were Visualscpaes, Artscapes and Mapscapes. One theme per day, an international keynote speaker introduced the works. For the first day (Visualscapes) there was Leonie Sandercock, for the second day (Artscapes) Alessandro Carboni, for the last day (Mapscapes) Adriana Allen. The keynote speakers expose their experiences focusing on the methods and the aims of their research paths. So Leonie Sandercock argued on the power of filmmaking not only to involve people augmenting the sense of community, but also expressing emotions. Alessandro Carboni traced his artistic path of acting landscape using its own body as an element of choreography. Adriana Allen talked about the taxonomy of mapping urban spaces.
All the conference themes were faced from many different perspectives but one thread, that takes together most of the interventions, was the will of give voice to insurgent citizens acting in the city. This aspect was very clear in the last day in which the conference moved itself to a really strange place. In the hearth of a city sold to the tourism, there is still a slice of resistance. A place that is still true. An old theatre linked to a Children hospital now dismissed by institutions and occupied by citizens. Many people from Venice came to the conference to reveal their stories on using movies, or arts or maps to regain their own city. The conference gave the opportunity to reveal a really true face of Venice so the conference itself, builds a particular Venicescape for all of us that were there, faraway from San Marco Square or from Rialto Bridge.
Davide Leone, Phd in Urban Planning, Architect and Planner. By now he is involved in a post doc research at university of Roma 3 on small towns and social cohesion, but tomorrow never knows. His blog is Parliamo di città (in Italian)