Pedagogies of Care, part 3

25 April, 2024 20:00 (London time)

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The third encounter of ‘Pedagogies of Care’ series will host artists and activists Mariette Schiltz and Edna Gee, both closely linked with ‘Isola Art Center’ and Isola Pepe Verde projects in Milan, Italy.

‘Isola Art Center’ was a free experimental and dynamic platform that combined internationally acclaimed contemporary art, emerging young art, and theoretical research with the needs and desires of the inhabitants of the Isola neighborhood. It was driven by energy, enthusiasm, and solidarity. It initially took root by occupying the space known as ‘La Stecca degli Artigiani’ in Isola, a post-industrial working-class neighborhood in Milan. Here, it found itself at the center of a conflict where it firmly aligned with the residents’ struggles against top-down urban planning and gentrification. The battle was lost, and ‘La Stecca’ and the two nearby parks were evacuated and demolished to make way for luxury skyscrapers. This ‘Fight specific’ mode of operation became an important foundation of their work, recounted in the book ‘Fight-specific Isola: Art, Architecture, Activism, and the Future of the City,’ published by Archive Books, 2013.

Without the Stecca Isola Art Center became a ‘dispersed center’, causing its activities to sprawl into bars, bookshops, piazzas, and as in the Rosta Project on the shutters of shop windows and businesses, continuing the collaboration with the neighborhood. At the same time, it joined the neighborhood associations and inhabitants to lobby for a new self-organized community space and draw attention to the need for more public green space. The result of this lobbying was ‘Isola Pepe Verde’, a self-organized community garden located on a vacant lot in Pepe street. Today, ‘Isola Pepe Verde’ continues to be a shared garden open to all, self-sufficient in water and energy, with trees, benches, fruits and vegetables grown in boxes, with artistic workshops, as well as spaces and playground for children. This new garden coming to life was seen as a concrete little Utopia in progress. This created a moment for Isola Art Center to take flight, to travel and cast their research wider. That was the start of Isola Utopia project which took off in San Mauro Cilento, stopped by in Vienna and Riga, to return to Milan and eventually passed by Casale Monferrato. In this project Isola Art Center became part of Isola Pepe Verde and collaborated with ‘Rimaflow a self-managed, fully functioning occupied factory in Milan. It was an ongoing research initiative that was collecting fragments and moments for new Utopias. This research continues with the hope to produce both practical examples, text and art works that could help us construct a part of the world that we desire to live in. Both Mariette and Edna will share their experience and talk about the social, political and pedagogical implications of Isola Art Center project. Many of the strategies and ideas they will tackle, were closely linked to the practice of artist Bert Theis – one of the founders of Isola Art Center, a teacher and important mentor to many young activists and artists who passed away in 2016.

Series of encounters Pedagogies of Care, curated by Andris Brinkmanis draw inspiration from the legacies of historical figures such as Francisco Ferrer Y Guardia, Asja Lacis, Bertolt Brecht and Walter Benjamin, Ivan Illich, Augusto Boal, Palle Nielsen, bell hooks and David Graeber among others and aims to foster a debate, bridge and bring together various figures and groups engaged with alternative pedagogical strategies on a global scale.

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