what is UNIDESCO?…

Following on from my previous post:

UNIDESCO is a group art project/intervention/performance/entity created by the some of the members of UNIDEE 2012, Cittadellarte and STEALTH.unlimited in response to an invitation by the association Pigna Mon Amour. I participated as part of the creative team and also in coordination of the project. For the 3rd year running we have been invited to spend one week in the community of La Pigna, Sanremo…

La Pigna some context:

“La Pigna” is the medieval city at the centre of Sanremo. It has steep, narrow and (sometimes) dark streets, because of this no cars can enter the quarter. The buildings that line these streets are often partially empty or vacant. Mainly, the people who live there are a few original inhabitants, immigrants from the south of Italy, foreign immigrants and Italians from the professional classes. “La Pigna” has had bad press in recent years due to localised violence and drug problems.

A quote about La Pigna from a member of the residents organisation Pigna Mon Amour:

“Sanremo’s inhabitants who live outside La Pigna are not interested in La Pigna, even if it’s situated only 200m from the Ariston theatre!  Today thanks to our intense and year-long scheduled activities, they now consider and are aware of what is going on in La Pigna, but they don’t yet perceive La Pigna as a place to live in and realise projects. Their vision is that of a kind of a stage: when the show finishes and they go back home.

 The fact that the inhabitants of Sanremo call La Pigna “Sanremo vecchio/Old Sanremo” is significant: they consider the neighbourhood to be like an old relative who they would like to die as soon as possible and they think it’s pointless to give him new clothes and to spend money on him”

UNIDESCO acknowledged that we did not come to La Pigna to ‘fix’ problems or issues or to simply create an artistic gesture, but rather to operate as an independent artistic force research, to observe, ask, evaluate and present a dossier of collected information around the following areas: Identities, Politics, Commerce, Values, Morality, Power, Media, Structures, Time and Practical Common Sense. Conceptually this was  approached by creating an artistic working group called UNIDESCO (a hybrid of the words UNIDEE and UNESCO), which mimics the actual UN organisation UNESCO.

CONCEPT: UNIDESCO World Heritage Site

To strengthen our position of an outside, impartial force (which is also aware of its inbuilt prejudices and impartial views) we entered La Pigna as UNIDESCO, a fictive (even playful, ridiculous) organisation modelled on the entity UNESCO established by the United Nations to “create the conditions for dialogue among civilizations, cultures and people, based upon respect for commonly shared values”.

Using camouflage, mimicry and serious play tactics, we operated as a kind of mirror to both UNESCO and also to La Pigna the place, attempting to provide the means of self-evaluation for those we encountered and met inside and out of La Pigna. We asked questions, invited arguments, dialogue and even resistance, we explored the capacity for communal resilience and attempted to throw some light on what La Pigna is now, what it was and where it thinks it is going.

(photo directly above by Shah Zaman)

Through this evaluation process we created a dossier to present our findings with regard to a unique value within La Pigna which we then used to establish La Pigna as the first UNIDESCO World Heritage Site.

The “corporate uniform” of UNIDESCO; the text on the back of the t-shirt “LA PIGNA HIDDEN IN THE CITY”, refers to the fact that it is positioned right in the centre of Sanremo, yet it remains quiet with no traffic and very few visitors compared to the rest of the extremely animated town of Sanremo.


UNIDESCO is a collective work that addresses themes regarding an alternative concept of common and immaterial heritage.

UNIDESCO’S mission is to rethink heritage directing new generations towards new models of being together.

UNESCO defines heritage as the preservation of natural and cultural values.

UNIDESCO is interested in facilitating the production of future heritage and new ways of living together, rather than just the preservation of culture symbols from the past.

Future Heritage does not just regard buildings, property and space, but also the collective imagination of new ways of living together. Heritage is a living and dynamic thing and is the result of a process of the redefinition of cultural values based on the dynamic elaboration of cultural identity.

More in next post…


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