WALLS: Learning leaving in the street

In Art We Trust, the main idea of Walls association

Among the ruins, stones, and some of the best known artistic works of Rome there is a space where art is understood in a deeper and original way and it is called Walls. The Association Walls was the result of an initiative looking to connect the world with artistic representations and events using interactive methods and a cultural approach. Created in 2006, the company has grown and has developed to a more professional level conducting a large amount of activities.

Chiara, is one of the people working in Walls and has an extensive experience in urban and modern art. Through the years she has been in charge of many of the projects aimed at the dissemination of public art, and has a very clear idea of the difficulties that urban and contemporary art can find in a city like Rome.

“Contemporary art is already present in Rome, in the space supposed to welcome it (museums, galleries, etc.) and these places are already tourist attractions (MAXXI, GNAM). Obviously the presence of the “contemporary” is a minority compared to the “ancient” but I believe that the development of the contemporary (as culture, aesthetic, message, means..) in a city really characterized by the ancient history and art is necessary to engage different audiences, expanding the tourist target.”

One of the most prominent features of the association is its interest in certain areas of the city.  The company follows the belief that art, is not only a human expression marked by some aesthetic rules and canons, but also a social and cultural tool which can be used to change the world.

“The public art, whether realized in depressed city areas, is a further enrichment of the heritage of the territory increasing the cultural location that can be visited to those already present and well known in the world. This handling of the tourists, but also of the citizens, in the new cultural sites could obviously create new economies in those areas that however, should be reinvested in the same areas to improve them, their services and the quality of life of its inhabitants.”

The association Walls collaborates with numerous street artists from the city of Rome and has also guests coming from the international scene who help them to spread the projects and ideas of the company. This association represents an advantage not only for some of the most marginalized areas of the city and for the private companies, but also for the artists themselves. Thanks to Walls, many young street artists are becoming known and are having the opportunity to show their work, something that is really difficult for many of them.

“I think that artists alone can’t do this process by themselves. It should be the cultural operators in accordance with the Institutions of the city to build good projects where the contemporary art is able to interact with the city creating and activating transversal methods and projects which can last and start new profitable effects.”

Some of the activities that the association Walls realizes range from art meetings where the artists can share their works and interact with the different kinds of audience, depending on the type of event, to workshops where brain storming sessions produce creative and innovative ideas. Chiara complains about the lack of public spaces devoted to this kind of activities and the stresses of creating this as a link between citizens and culture.

Street art hidden in the crowded streets of Rome

Street art hidden in the crowded streets of Rome

“In Rome there isn’t a public place that focus on contemporary art and that can propose really actual research plan able to show and share the latest trends with the freedom and ability to experiment. A place that could be as a membrane between art and the city. The artists now can only rely on the galleries but the impact on the general public doesn’t lift off. Projects such as Triumph and Laments of William Kentridge along the Tevere River and the several projects of public art/street art that raised in the late years, are the only proposals developed in the city recently. We can do much more.”

Walls carry out many activities and projects during the year, and one of the most recent and relevant ones is ‘Sanba’. Chiara speaks about it with conviction and highlights the importance and value of it when it comes to the revival and regeneration of the city.

“Sanba is understood as an ongoing project specially designed for the area of San Basilio, a suburb located in the northeast of Rome. It is aimed to describe a methodology through which to experiment the interconnection between contemporary art and social complexity. The attempt to interact with a suburban territory and its inhabitants by artistic means is expressed through a twofold action: workshops of contemporary and applied arts with primary, secondary and high school students and interventions on the facades of the district by artists.”

When talking about the importance of promoting these kind of activities and events and at the same time the importance of being aware, Chiara is sure that it is essential to educate children on the need to promote this type of cultural activities.

“The intervention methodology established by WALLS is expressed through two distinct but interrelated phases: workshops in schools about art literacy and to understand of the role of public art in urban requalification and public art interventions on the facades of the neighborhood, which are a reminder of the lived experience and the changes promoted.”

Chiara explains that the fact of integrating children in this process makes them involved and help them to become aware of the relevance of art in the world.

“The children of the I.C. Mahatma Gandhi elementary school have imagined the new face of the neighbourhood during the workshop with the Work In Project team and seen projected on the facades that will be protagonists of the intervention of Hitnes, the designs they would like to see on the walls of the district. They enjoyed the activity and their creations impressed and surprised many.”

The association always works following a social and cultural objective, so how the students and children understand the idea of the connection between art and progress.

“During the first phase, the conceptual part , the curator Simone Pallotta has studied with the students the territory and its characteristics through printed materials and photos trying to analyse and understand places and situations that represent the different faces of the neighbourhood. This was made by thinking about some words that illustrate the positive and negative aspects of the place, this led to the production of some keywords. Then, in the second phase an Italian artist has analysed together with the students all the words produced, highlighting the difficulty of transforming a word which focuses on concepts and not objects in his visual consideration.”

Most of the plan and activities that the association carries out involve public participation and are performed outdoors. Chiara believes that it is the only way to get an effective result.

“The real tool we have in order to win the public over and to make them part of our intentions and the responsibility that we all have as citizens is the interaction with them. We hold workshops and events in the street to attract attention and raise awareness. It is the only way to achieve a real change.”

Chiara is positive and believes that things are going in the right direction, but she also thinks that there is still a long way…

“We can do much more.”