Tag Archives: sanremo

UNIDESCO public presentation…

Following on from the previous post

There was a public presentation of the results of our intervention in La Pigna on the evening of August 25, 2012:

The UNIDESCO declaration opened our presentation (as with the whole programme it was presented in Italian or bi-lingually):

Excerpts for the opening declaration translated into english (for the full version click here):

…We arrived in La Pigna asking ourselves if it could be the first UNIDESCO heritage site not because it is a perfect place but because it is a complex place: here you can find a heritage made not only by art and history but mostly by the people who live there.

Our search/project lasted one week and we found that La Pigna is, in the words of its inhabitants and those who only know a little about it: History, Art and Magic – a white canvas that can be filled with many colours – a place where people are all crazy, unique and particular, where people are more open-minded and there is more exchange between foreigners and Italians – a place where people care about other people – where houses are so close to each other that they manage to protect the inhabitants from the outside – a place where you go up and down, left and right but still in the end you always find yourself in the place you want to get to – and a place where so many stories have taken place that you could fill a whole book…La Pigna is the city hidden inside the city…

…Every day we went out on the streets, squares, shops and parks of La Pigna and Sanremo where we interacted with the inhabitants making interviews, group performances, distributing information material, inviting inhabitants to express their own opinion and to join us in this meeting.

…In La Pigna many things can and must get better, but the most important wager for the future is to be able to keep and develop its magic complexity. People of La Pigna have to choose if they want to become like other parts of the world and Sanremo or to become an example for other parts of the world and Sanremo. We believe that the only way to achieve this is for the citizens is to be united and to live and work together.”


La Pigna was publicly declared a “new heritage site”. Citizens received this nomination based on the 12 points or values presented as 12 dance steps/movements. The audience were invited to participate and perform these movements in the dance/instruction event UNIDISCO.

OK so this was a risky and i would say somewhat courageous decision on our part, because in the end we chose to synthesise a lot of serious research into a rather camp aerobics routine. And of course it polarised people somewhat, some did not get it, some loved it, some were just plain angry…but in the end if you invite a group of artists from an experimental residency to come and make work…then surely the point is to expect some kind of subversion on normal preconceptions…no?

The the dance movements/values featured were:

Enlarge the large family/Allarga la famiglia allargata

Step up step down, your heart will be sound/Cammina su e giù e sarai in forma anche tu

Collaborate together, forever, forever/Collaborate, insieme ce la fate

Collect your trash, but not your stash/Prenditi cura della tua spazzatura

Find your way in via Umana/Trova la tua strada, cammina per via Umana

Embrace your strange neighbour/Il tuo vicino è strano, ma digli ti amo

Fake the fake Gucci/Tarocca il Gucci tarocco

Travel with the time machine/Viaggia con la macchina del tempo

Demand cheap rent/Pretendi affitti bassi

Hide in the invisible city/Nasconditi nella città invisibile

Smile at all that pass by/Sorridi ai passanti, proprio a tutti quanti

Discover the new heritage/Scopri il nuovo patrimonio

These movements represent the thoughts and suggestions proposed by the citizens of La Pigna during our stay there, now they must take this “testimony” and elaborate their own shared system of values, thinking of new and future generations.


A plaque was awarded designating La Pigna the first UNIDESCO “New Heritage Site”.

We specifically chose not to give the plaque to a person or representative from a particular association, instead we chose to hang it ourselves in the public square of Santa Brigida. Knowing the reputation of La Pigna we wondered how long it would hang there…that night there was a tremendous thunder-storm and the next day, only slightly damaged it was still hanging in situ. The next day however it was gone…


It was decided to provide a platform for the citizens of La Pigna and Sanremo to express their views of the concept of La Pigna as a New Heritage site…or anything really!

photos of public debate by Karl Logge


A (work in progress) film made and edited during our stay in La Pigna was projected onto the walls of the buildings lining the Piazza Santa Brigida

daily rituals…

Carrying on from the previous post:

To engage with the public and to advertise our presence as well as to invite people to our public event at the end of our stay, a daily ritual was performed in La Pigna and Sanremo during the period of 21-25 august. There was also a strong performative element to this daily ritual. It was noted that we made more impact and provoked more interest when we moved as a group dressed in the uniform of UNIDESCO. Each day different members of the group took turns to plan our route and what we might do during our procession through the streets, sometimes it involved a declaration of our presence and an invite to join us in Piazza Santa Brigida for a public debate on 25 August (in Italian, Arabic, French, English…) using a portable loudspeaker, another time it involved unfurling the UNIDESCO banner at Piazza Cassini, the main gate of La Pigna…

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…


what happened in La Pigna…

So back to my art residency shenanigans…UNIDEE became UNIDESCO for our one week stay in La Pigna, Sanremo, this August (20-27). A kind of week-long performance/odyssey…we were a group of 16 and operated as an art collective experimenting with a democratic process led methodology…Phew! We worked on this project with STEALTH.unlimited were also greatly helped by a previous workshop with Borut Šeparović. So i will go into more detail about the work in general in the next few posts and what we actually did there, but for now you can look at the film below which is a visual record of some of the things that happened…

Film/photography and edit by Margavp
extra photography by Alecia Neo and Karl Logge
Music – “Dumbeek Dance” by Pete Calandra freeplaymusic.com

learning from the experts…

We recently spent 2 days working with Borut Šeparović. Borut (a founder, artistic leader, director and choreographer of theatre-art-media group Montažstroj) came specifically to help us with the development and methodology of the conception and activation of what UNIDEE 2012 will do in La Pigna (marginalised ancient centre of flashy-trashy seaside town of Sanremo) when we go there for one week later on in August. And boy did we need him, the idea was to decide if we can act cohesively together in some kind of artistic intervention as a group in order to create a more lasting impact on the territory.

La Pigna by night

La Pigna centre of image on the hill surrounded by Sanremo

This is easier said than done, meetings can go on for ever without conclusions, especially when you put 10 artists together trying to make decisions but always remaining too polite to maybe express entirely what they feel…skirting around issues….being too nice!

So Borut comes into this playing the role of (in his words) the asshole/ bastard who enforces a series of rules for the meetings, and points out in a very direct way the flaws and weaknesses in some of our proposals…forcing us to be more constructively critical…This can only be done really effectively by an “outsider” to the group someone who will not worry too much about hurting any individual’s feelings and will force us not to take criticism personally.

Each meeting has a moderator (always someone different) and everyone has to raise their hand and take their turn to talk, the idea being that no-one talks over one another and that there are no two-way discussions that exclude the rest of the group. No monologues allowed either! Sounds a little draconian but it is effective. Post Borut we have continued with his methodology and we now have a collective plan and strategy for La Pigna!!! Won’t say what it is yet, but will blog about it as it happens later in the month.

us “blending in” at one of 3 sets of ancient city walls in La Pigna (this one is over 1000 yrs old)