Week 45: Cittadellarte

Hi Everyone,

This Tuesday is another event in a year-long series of weekly conversations and exhibits in 2010 shedding light on examples of Plausible Artworlds.

This week we’ll be talking about Cittedellarte, the interdisciplinary laboratory founded in 1998 by artist Michelangelo Pistoletto, near Turin, Italy. Parts of Pistoletto’s project have recently been activated at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Plausible Artworlds has been invited to host a debate — this coming Friday, 12 November — in the museum’s exhibition space as to whether Cittedellarte is (or not) plausibly an artworld. Tonight’s conversation will be the occasion to take a first, and informed, stab at that question.

The name, Cittadellarte, implies both a fortified enclave and a (plausible) city of art. As a quasi institution in and of itself, the project is structured around several autonomous and self-organized offices geared toward a multiplicity of topics such as art, economics, education, politics, ecology, and communication. Indebted to Pistoletto’s participatory work of the mid- to late 1960s, for which is he renowned, Cittadellarte places at the core of these diverse offices and activities the artist’s commitment to an “art [that is] at the center of a responsible process of transformation of society.”

However praiseworthy those aims, one cannot but wonder to what extent a project that is so comfortably at home within the physical and conceptual architecture of the mainstream attention economy can be considered a genuine alternative. To what degree does the project merely expand the artist’s notoriety within the reputational economy? On the other hand, what elements, components or ingredients of Cittadellarte may be truly useful for rethinking artworlds, their structure and use? From its very inception, Plausible Artworlds has struggled with the ticklish question as to how to deal with projects (like Cittadellarte and others) that seem both to be, and not to be, plausible art-sustaining systems… A debate it is high time to open.