A Venice coalition protests against the plan to permanently house the Biennale archives at the Arsenal

Venice is once again mired in protests, this time against plans by the organization behind the Venice Biennale to further occupy the city-owned historic Arsenale.

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered last Sunday at the Arsenale for a demonstration organized by an alliance of local associations called the Forum Futuro Arsenalethe art diary reports.

Parts of the sprawling 118-acre complex of former shipyards have been used as exhibition spaces for the Venice Biennales of Art and Architecture since 1999. In 2012, the state transferred ownership of two-thirds of the complex to the municipality.

Now protesters are trying to halt plans by the arts organization to take up even more space in the complex as a permanent site for the Biennale’s historical archives. The initiative is expected to use 20 million euros ($22.8 million) in public funds and 105 million euros ($119.7 million) from Italy’s pandemic recovery fund.

Members of Forum Futuro Arsenale have sketched out an alternative vision for Arsenale in a 50 page proposal published in 2015. It presents the reclaiming of historic space as a key to reclaiming the city for residents rather than tourists, at a time when the city’s actual population is shrinking and local services are suffering. It is said:

To think of Venice as a “historic center” (centro storico) dooms the city to extinction. With a concerted effort, the mass exodus of Venetian residents can be reduced and the long-term quality of life in the city ensured.

Since ownership of the Arsenale complex was transferred to the Municipality of Venice by the state in 2012, the Forum Futuro Arsenale (FFA) has identified the regeneration of this area as perhaps the last chance to forge a future healthy for Venice as a city. So far isolated from the negative effects of mass tourism that manifest themselves in the rest of Venice, the Arsenale is an area large enough to significantly influence the socio-economic development of the city and yet sufficiently autonomous to be administered with a unified and integrated whole. vision.

The FFA proposes that the contested space be revitalized as a site for traditional crafts and boat maintenance. It also plans a floating maritime museum and recording and dance studios for local artists.

Tomas Saraceno, Aero(s) scene: When breath becomes air, when atmospheres become the movement for a post-fossil energy era against carbon-capitalist clouds (2019). Image courtesy of Julia Halperin.

The mayor’s office, however, threw its support behind the Biennale’s plans. A spokesman for Mayor Luigi Brugnaro’s office said TANNING that the current action plan would allow for redevelopment and free the city from a previous agreement that required the city to allow the navy to use a closed portion of space for free. If the proposal is accepted, this space would free up the Galeazze Channel as a shortcut for boats to cross while traveling from the San Marco basin to the northern lagoon.

In a meeting on February 2, the Biennale’s president said the archive proposal would benefit both the arts organization and the people of the city, who would enjoy “an open and vibrant center all year round. ‘year”.

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