Viva Utopia was my 1/4 “artblitz” I did during the European Elections 2019. A kind of free “public action”, disinter-mediated, uncommissioned, directly addressing the public. I wanted to do this installation both because I had the need to deal with the theme of Europe, the only living (viva) utopia, and to experience something different from the art-gallery formula. I performed it in two consecutive days, Friday 24 May 2019 in Piazza Navona with a dummy, and on Saturday 25 May in Largo Argentina with Paul, my Nigerian friend who collaborated with me playing the migrant holding the European Utopia.
To avoid being sent away immediately by the police, I registered as a “street artist” and requested permission from the Department of Culture of the Municipality of Rome as “fakir” and then communicated it to the agents of the I Municipio, the place of the exhibition. However, despite the authorization, problems did show. On the first day in Piazza Navona, the municipal agents made me delete the hashtag #elezionieuropee2019 and #europeanelections2019 on the board I prepared cause they could be understood as propaganda, and that they would have to call the DIGOS (the General Investigations and Special Operations Division); a Chinese portraitist tried to boycott me by stealing a second board with other graphics I had; and Paul, the Nigerian man who supposed to play the “migrant-fakir”, was threatened by some gypsy musicians and sent away because they thought he could compete with the offers, so I had to use a dummy I brought with me. Also there is a whole undergrowth of small groups of street artists who “deal” the spaces of the square, but I protected myself with saying: «It’s contemporary art!».
Viva Utopia had no political meaning in the strict sense and did not suggest any position, it as a symbolic work. Basically, I liked this idea of a European Venus in the air, which levitates, perhaps in the balance, which seems about to fall, supported by a fakir-migrant in a position that evokes caritas. I thought that this image summarized well all the complexity of Europe’s matter, and I played with a rather well-known street artist character in Rome: the fakir. Venus obviously represents beauty; the fakir is the migrant, it evokes the pietas: two founding values of the European culture. Like any other crisis, the migrant crisis can also be an opportunity.
Not as an artist, but as a normal citizen, I think Europe has been a beautiful utopia for 80 years, which requires adjustment from time to time. It is a dream based on the proposal of a peaceful model of sustainable, fair, inclusive, and universal prosperity. In the current (and upcoming) geo-political framework, if Europa does not want to leave the task of designing the humanity of the future to Usa, China and Russia alone, it should be strengthened instead of disintegrating, proposing itself as bright and balanced example of civilization.
Reactions to #VivaUtopia were incredulous, amused, perplexed, some were looking for the offer basket, others called the dummy, especially a policeman, thinking it was a real person. Many posed with the installation and the children, in their innocence, were like hypnotized by this fully blue statue with golden stars that magically levitated in the air.