The unMonastery salutes the unBid
A group of a hundred strong local citizens have formed an alternative channel for Materiani to shape the program proposal for their city as European culture capital. This time this radical redefinition of content is not directly the responsibility of the unMonastery. However, in the spirit of popular participatory practice that this represents a vibrant, thoughtful and rigorous ‘counterbid’ is to be thoroughly welcomed.
Materan history is full of popular rebellion. Luciani resist the foreign. Disagreement, iconoclasm and public vandalism are bred into the blood of your/our fellowship. And while some of this proud defense of their marginality is habitual polarised opposition to whatever ever impetus comes from the residue of the great Italian Communist movement, another aspect appears a reflex response to external forces and concepts that at its core is a vital self-preservation and anti-imperialism stance. ‘Development’ comes slowly to the South. There is honour in resistance.
Much as the inhabitants of the unMonastery approached the idea of community service via rejecting a core religious premise of monasticism, the strength of this alternative citizen’s cultural initiative lies in being built upon a healthy skepticism towards top-down, hyper conceptual solutions grounded in blind faith. That a broad group of concerned citizens set themselves the task of producing a parallel unofficial cultural program even before what they presumably consider the — corrupt, elitist, self-appointed — MA2019 committee has revealed the details of their ‘official’ proposal, adds further testimony to the value and integrity of this initiative. The unBidders are independently working the same ground from scratch: answering the same core thirty questions.
The unMonastery has never been a popular hit — for that it is too conceptually unDefined. It is ‘something doing something’; its fruits won’t mature until after its doors are closed. For a group of 100 cultural activists to have absorbed the essence of the ‘un’ in the unMonastery thought process is a major triumph.
At the inaugural meet the community gathering at the unMonastery, one of the senior unMonasterians held a small demonstration. His point was to reveal the pervasive toxic atmosphere that they anticipated working in; the official version of the social imperative behind unMonastery mandate had been scandalously beautified; the true, ugly story must be told. The highlight of this revelation was to lead the assembled citizens in a chorus of their unBeautified text. To great delight the chanted a text that begun:
No, No, No.
No, no, no.
Retrogrado, scarso. No.
No, difficile, no.
No, No, sporco.
La gente si lamenta molto.
This was followed by a short theatrical ritual then progressed to demonstrate the act of a Materiani and an unMonasterian beating each other over the head with long cardboard boxes.
Much as the unMonastery has had to struggle to win territorial independence from its parental sponsors, the unBid demands to be taken seriously as a legitimate, independent mature political process. The unBid is not just an expression of negativity, it is creatively seizing a task. It takes as its core concern that culture is far too important to be left to the self proclaimed aristocrats.
We can only anticipate that a future triangulation between the international tinged ‘Bid’ and the hopefully militantly local ‘unBid’ will produce a vibrant dialog that enriches the greater mandate of the work at hand.