[artinfo] The Creativity of the Common - text from Nuovo Cinema Palazzo (Rome)

claudia bernardi clod.zeta at gmail.com
Thu Sep 5 11:09:57 CEST 2013

Dear all,
I would like to share with you a text about "the creativity of the common",
written by Nuovo Cinema Palazzo, a very interesting occupied cinema in Rome
that is exploring forms of radical democracy, creating new commoning and
constituent processes, inside the metropolis and beyond the territorial
This text is a contribution to the discussion that will be held at the
euro-mediterranean meeting of Agora99 in Madrid during the workshop 
"Spaces for metropolitan commoning": 

I hope you'll enjoy it!




*The Creativity of the Common*

The following considerations are food for thought derived from and
developed throughout a series of meetings and debates with the occupants of
the Teatro Valle occupato and other subjects sharing the process of
creation of the ?common?.

*The constituent dimension of the common good*

Let's begin with the centrality and historical urgency of the practice we
are producing with the creation of the common good. We believe that what
the traditional legal models are now compelled to face is, more than the
regression of state sovereignty, the relation between constitutions and
social autonomies, and the regulatory claim of the first over the latter.**

To this regard, our effort is not employed in the direction of a
wholehearted defense of the Constitution, nor towards its absolute
abolishment. It is rather aimed at creating a dialectic relationship with
those institutions in which we find a potential ?gap? for creative
intervention, therefore penetrating the legal system, regaining the means
of affirmation of our struggle, of collective action, and of a new
battleground for ourselves and others.

More and more movements and collective experiences are speaking out on
constitutional principles. Again, the aim is not their safeguard: movements
perceive themselves and place themselves within an autonomous, constituent
and founding perspective, and, starting from a political scenario that is
in progressive dissolution, movements are advancing towards the creation of
legal rights and forms of self-governance. Movements are creating breaking
points from within, tracing new paths by practicing transformation.

The practice of self-governance generates new settings for relations,
functioning, management and regulation methods, eliminating the boundaries
of specific subjectivities, connecting to a social elements whose
composition cannot be inscribed within classic territorial borders, nor
within networks linked to production and labor models. The practices
naturally prefigure the models. The translation and reproducibility of
these models generate the prototypes of new institutions.

*Action beyond reclaiming: creating autonomy, practicing self-governance*

A concrete plan for autonomy develops from action,  not from
institutionalized  nouns (education, cultural production, healthcare). The
creation of art and culture, the production of a response to our needs
unveil the collective ability to satisfy such needs,  setting them within a
perspective of possibility, in a horizontal scenario of cooperation, much
beyond a purely demanding position.

These are the means with which we escape domination of our lives and bodies.

The direct practice of our needs, the undermining of the bio political
pervasiveness enable us to generate constituent processes, to create new
institutional models which constitute a forefront, for ourselves and
others, and give life to the places in which we carry out our struggles,
that are both a meeting and a starting point.

*Against speculation: illegal legitimacy*

The practice of common good does not develop, however, outside of the
struggles and of their factual nature. In this perspective, the crucial
role played by the fight against speculation in the experience of the Nuovo
Cinema Palazzo represents much more than just a narrative element. The
re-appropriation of the Cinema Palazzo by the occupants has inverted the
balance in a power play where the city is generally dominated by real
estate speculation, by infringement of local building regulations, by a
consequent corrupt political and economic system. The affirmation of the
principal of illegal legitimacy against legal illegitimacy, translates into
confronting the current legal system, while a new one is already being
written in practice.

The (constant) political use of law not only goes in the direction of
determining the legal means to strategically sustain our action, but
extends to the re-creation of legislation not only as regards encoded law,
but also including common law and the judicially held law.

We are aware that legislation registers the modifications determined by the
change of balance in current power plays. The court ruling with which the
Rome civil court denied the reintegration of possession of the structure to
the Camene spa can be read in this perspective. The legal system does not
directly coincide with the law.

*The practice of rights: the right to culture*

The need for a place destined to culture, many kinds of it, is not the aim
and the object of our struggle, it is on the contrary the actual substance
of our action. The first step we took was to connect the fight against real
estate speculation to the issue of the cultural dimension as central in
life.  This passage was instantly and instinctively achieved without the
need for thought; it later became a political process gaining clarity along
the way. The awareness of the urgency of a cultural revolution is what
drives the creative action of the Cinema Palazzo, the rediscovery of  its
original vocation, in response to a widespread demand.

The need for social relations and exchange, the subtraction of our
existence to the relentless monetary domination of life: these are the
practices that have determined the means to break the idea of *homo
?conomicus* whose choices are driven only by individualistic and
utilitarian considerations, an idea dominating not only the economic
sphere, but also the un-critical realm of politics held hostage by
financial dictates, and a legislative system inspired by liberal

On the contrary, our resistance is deeply rooted in the human and creative
dimension of our existence in which culture plays a leading role. We assert
the importance of culture as a basic and fundamental need: not reducible,
inalienable, indefeasible.

*Demolishing** private **property*

Our experience produces practices of collective re-appropriation that
question private property.

Our experience challenges the essentially absolutist view typical of
legislation concerning private property. By practicing collective
re-appropriation, our experience contradicts, disperses and reformulates
this view, referring to a different meaning of possession, focusing on the
way we relate to our territory and to our city.

*Beyond the classic forms of production and labor, towards the right to

The city is the main scenario in which contemporary conflict takes place.

Fordism labor organization surpassed, the re-organization of the market
economy on a global scale designates the city as the place for capitalism
to attempt its renewal and survival. Capitalism requires ongoing
urbanization processes, in order to absorb the exceeding products
continually being produced. Overproduction is absorbed by urbanization and
vice versa. The right to citizenship, intended as the collective control of
this strong link between urbanization, production and use of the capital
surplus, represents a main goal in the political struggle. Social movements
are becoming more and more a constituent voice on the metropolitan
political scene, with the ability to alternate means of protest to creative
and imaginative forms of action, putting forth alternative models of
radical metropolitan democracy.

*New subjects and ?commoning?*

The new subjects revolving round the creation of the common good are giving
rise to new experimental forms of citizenship reaching beyond the concept
of territorial community and *subjectively defined community* , redefining
them through broad experiences of re-appropriation. Referring to the
relational nature of goods, practices building the common good achieve the
idea of citizenship as an adherence to a project, not merely limited to
administrative guidelines (*according to a property and census oriented view
*) but thought of as the ability to cooperate towards obtaining a common

Citizenship becomes the subject whose shared aim is to create a collective
city -?project? centered on its use value, opposed to a ?product?- city,
based on trade value.

*Beyond the territorial community*

The experiences we are focusing on are based on relations of recognition
and broad cooperation and do not intend to reproduce a nostalgic view of
closed communities nor, on the contrary, do they portray the post-modern
ideal of a city user crossing multiple spaces without ever belonging to a
collective reality. These experiences bring forth the idea of community as
a vast network functioning fluidly on different levels, entering into
relation with local realities as well as with each other on a national and
European scale.

We are not interested in rights of common from a standpoint of immediate or
direct recognition, but as a troublesome element to disrupt the private law
and state structures. Rights of Common evoke an archaic and collective
strength, and interest us concerning the development of a scene of
discourse that addresses a different way of possessing, and a new way of
being citizens.

Our effort goes in the direction of translating, modeling and re-inventing
the rights of common. The rights of common are linked to the land, to
material needs, to a community depicted over time as closed and
defined.  On the other hand, our experience is essentially linked to the
city, to immaterial needs that are central in our lives, and to an open and
free/accessible community.

The practice of care and management of the common good is what will
determine the belonging and the right of use/ownership use. This practice
is what determines our belonging to a community, defining us as holders of
a right of common intended with a double meaning: the right to access and
the duty to tend to, administrate and develop the common good in its social
and collective function.

These rights and obligations are not necessarily based on territorial
proximity or on the formal geographical belonging of the common good, but
on the access, the use, on the relations and social ties that are
constantly being generated in relation to the use of the good.

*Beyond the governing community: commons as a dispositif (device) of direct
and radical democracy*

The self-governance of common goods also requires participation in the
collective manage mechanism which involves the community of reference and
thereby creates participatory management aside from the ownership of the
goods. We think this community must be repeatedly redefined and potentially
expanded. The relationship between whoever occupies or whoever cares for
these goods and the other members of the populace is always open and

The idea of a restitution beyond the subjective ?we? achieved in the
?common? is self-contained. For this reason the tension is in producing
self-governance based on the spaces managed in an expanded way, targeted on
diverse generations and cultures, on rooting the community in a prospective
citizenship looking to the future and on high. Spaces like the space
dedicated to parenthood, managed together with parents arriving from the
neighborhood and throughout the city; classrooms progressively opened to
student management; projects which increasingly range in the direction of
co-planning with others and groups; housing which provide enterprises time
and possibilities for producing works which would otherwise not come about
in a special mechanism, and not episodic, open to the ?common? of the city
with the idea of contaminating other subjects in the progressive practice
of expropriating physical and symbolic spaces.

*Towards a federative and relational practice*

The plurality of constituent practices and the subjects who generate and
practice them and force them on in an uninhibited and autonomous way
provide the occasion for a federative and relational practice for the
struggle beyond fragmentation and also beyond the search for a single

The occupations which spread nationally in a direct and progressive fashion
took shape in all of Italy in 2011 and 2012 to thereby draw a map of the
?common? raised beyond the single realities. In the dialectic and
multipolar relationship between various occupations, each experience
contained factors of growth and specifics in elaborating and studying its
own identity and, in putting history into perspective with various
intensities and duration, fueled common repertoires of investigation and
struggle. Each contributed to the creation of a dynamic which was, in part,
uncontrollable, deeply transformational, making rebellion without the seeds
of failure imaginable. Not only did this generate new outposts for the
struggle but also produced the practice, the mentality and discourse on the
common good. Independent institutions which were neither public nor private
based on the concept of common use and affirming the fundamental the need
for creating networks of similar experiences from the time of their
founding; specific experiences with their differences but which shared the
same constituent capacity and same universal vocation (universal not in
abstract terms but very real; the partiality of an experience always looks
to translatability).

Being in a relationship, creating different nodes in the same mechanism net
may, however, not be sufficient if it fails to provide a core to the
constituent process going beyond the mere ?structural? side. In this sense,
we believe that the new form of federalism beyond the state can come as the
opening of a path to build relations among the different institutions of
the common. A process which is open, agreed to, horizontal and capable of
involving a plurality of powers and institutions arising out of the
experience of the common good. Common goods are actually polycentric in
nature and this require a deeply democratic approach (the principle of
decentralization, a subsidiary status, diffuse sovereignty and special
legislation) as well as an economic approach (the ways of producing common
goods which lead to our dependence on money and the markets).

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