9 Urban Biotopes (9UB), Turin, Italy 2014
video intro for 9UB (made prior to the residency)
Nine Urban Biotopes (9UB) is an international, socially engaged art project delivering artistic research and cultural exchange. It does this both within and among social citizen and art initiatives in cities in South Africa and Europe in 2014.
As part of 9UB I spent 3 months in Mirafiori in Turin, Italy. Mirafiori is an area with a history of immigration, with Italians coming from the south to work at the Fiat factory since the 1950s. These Terroni (a derogatory term, meaning people of the land) came from the countryside and were now accommodated in large apartment blocks, denying them their links to the land. This identity and their agricultural roots soon became manifest in the form of illegal garden allotments that sprung up around Mirafiori.
Since then the area has undergone some urban regeneration, certain gardeners have been given authorized garden allotments and Colonnetti Park has been made into a safe green space for the residents of the area.
Now the financial crisis is testing the resilience of these immigrants and gardening for sustenance is proving to be a possible way forward. Also in the intervening years other immigrants have moved into the neighborhood, notably from the East of Europe, Asia and Africa. The Roma people also form a presence, albeit one that is barely tolerated.
My project concerned workshops with the community where we planted vegetable seeds in planter-trays. These were then nurtured until they were big enough to re-plant. Some people from the community then helped to make a video with the plants telling a story about the immigrants of Mirafiori.
Report on the project: Space Invaders by Valentina Rojas Loa
A Miafiori Immigrant Story 2014 (Turin, Italy 9 Urban Biotopes)
Roma children planting seeds into planter-trays at the Colonnetti Park, Mirafiori, Turin 2014