S.M.U.R. is a project of nGbK (neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst) Berlin, in cooperation with metroZones – Center for Urban Affairs (Berlin) and SMU-research (Rom/Aarau)
S.M.U.R. is also a current show at the NGBK gallery in Berlin.
S.M.U.R. is also an acronym for Self Made Urbanism Rome, an exhibition exploring the Via Casilina, an arterial road in Rome running south-east from the central Porta Maggiore to the city’s borders and beyond.
The area is said to have fascinated Romantic artists who viewed it as a urban-rural landscape complementing the historical and cultural densification of the innen-stadt.
The show provides a contemporary answer to the famous question from Brecht’s play ‘Questions from a worker who reads: Who built ‘Great Rome‘?
Today’s answer is: About one-third of the settled area of the Capitol City of Italy was informally (read illegaly) erected by its future inhabitants without permits and without connection to municipal infrastructure.
The show manages to demonstrate how ‘abusivismo’ is not ‘merely a violation of legal regulations’ but it is also an ‘economic system for urban growth that is negotiated time and again between the various actors and the authorities or political parties and is recognized as integral to the city by repeated legalizing decrees.’
The show also manages to effectively demonstrates how, in Italy, the practise of self-organisation is of antropological importance and has little interest for the ‘bene comune,’ or the common good.
In the catalogue of the show one can read: ‘The complex history of the city-scape of Rome, unstructured by any master plan and situated on the border between northern and southern Europe, is exemplary of the development of metropolitan centres at the beginning of the 21st century. Its unplanned growth and the manifold forms of informality are an expression of the city‘s singularity and urban obstinacy. … Construction is, after tourism, management and civil service, the greatest source of income in the rapidly-grown metropolis that Mussolini took such care to safeguard against industry and the proletariat. The ‘self-made city’ phenomenon thus has a long history and a variety of expressions, from self-built emergency housing to large, speculative projects.’
The reader is left to draw his/her own conclusions about the state Italy finds itself in.
One-third of the city fabric of the Nation’s capital is the result of illegal activities.
Is that an accurate reflection of the Nation or what?