(Gruppo 25 Aprile spokesman Marco Gasparinetti being interviewed for “Architectures of Refusal”)
The mass tourism problem exists, and has “a destructive impact” on cities. This is particularly true in the most visited destinations, and is even further amplified in the fragile equilibrium of the lagoon.
By Eugenio Pendolini
The mass tourism problem exists, and has “a destructive impact” on cities. This is particularly true in the most visited destinations, and is even further amplified in the fragile equilibrium of the lagoon. However there are some who have not resigned themselves to this. As around the world, so also in Venice: there is a part of society that fights back with urban projects and proposals that benefit the residents, the environment, and work against real estate speculation. This resistance is documented in a collection of photographs, “Architectures of Refusal”, a study by Eduardo Rega Calvo, architect and instructor at the University of Pennsylvania. An online collection brings together proposals from the citizens’ associations who repudiate “the status quo of the neoliberal culture”. There are video interviews, architectural research, articles by specialists and meetings organized by experts in the field. A map also displays an atlas of protest movements.
During the days of the opening of this year’s Biennale, Rega Calvo closely followed several groups of Venetians. These were Gruppo 25 Aprile, Forum Futuro Arsenale, We Are Here Venice, S.a.L.E. Docks and Poveglia per Tutti. “We met citizens who were organized and very well informed”, writes the Spanish researcher. There are many sensitive subjects: the upheaval of citizen life, depopulation, the abandonment of traditional economic sectors for business activity connected to tourism, the pollution of the lagoon, the privatization of the islands for profit from luxury hotels, and the environmental impact of cruise ships. “In our meetings” continues Calvo, “they illustrated not only the policies which they strongly oppose, but also their tactics of refusal”.
“Architectures of Refusal” has in recent years also studied other cities, traveling around the world. Among these are New York, Hong Kong, Bogota, Medellin, Cartagena and Detroit. It is in fact between the Motor City (a city among the most impacted socially by economic crisis) and Venice that there is, according to the researchers, a common thread. This lies in the exploitation of the urban fabric by an unregulated tourist industry. “Detroit, with the automotive industry, is a warning for Venice and its mass tourism. It is very risky” concludes Calvo, “to have one economic sector that takes over”.
Source: La Nuova Venezia, 9 June 2018