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The seminar “Involving the community / Involved artistic practices” Phillipp Dietachmair on the five crucial steps in civil action

As part of the three-day seminar “Involving the community / Involved artistic practices” held at OKC Palach from 13 to 15 March, Phillipp Dietachmair, programme manager at the European Cultural Foundation in Amsterdam, held a lecture on the first day of the seminar.

In the lecture titled “Civil Action – the Art of Social Involvement as a Challenge”, he stated that there are five key steps in a civil action that make up the model of “social sequence”, that can be identified in activist instances across European countries, including Croatia.

The first step is emotion. Thanks to emotion, artistic projects work as a catalyst encouraging people to show what they have in them and show their strength. Research shows that people want to express their fears and anger, they just need to be given an opportunity or they should create it themselves. This was the motivating point for recent protests in Spain, and something similar can be said about the project of international cultural co-operation Tandem, which, among other things, combined activists’ activities in Italy and Tunisia regarding the drama of refugees on the island of Lampedusa.

The second step is self reflection. Through it we try to find out what emotions mean, what to do with them, and that leads us to creating interaction.

The third feature is communication, and it arises from opening a space for discussion about different ideas, which leads to better mutual understanding and better results.

The fourth step is de-privatisation, i.e. leaving one’s own scope, spreading activist ideas and initiatives into the environment. Making things public is one of the ways of doing it, for example, as the Pravo na grad initiative did in Zagreb, when investments by a private developer culminated in public protest, expressing a proactive stance. A similar example is the Italian action Teatro Vialle occupato, aimed at creating a situation where everyone from the outside could enter the theatre space.

The next step is self-organising. There are many such examples, e.g. the construction of the Buiucani cinema in Moldova, prompted last year by a local activist which resulted in the citizens getting an open-air cinema. A similar action was the R-Urban action in Colombes, France, which has led to the creation of a number of public gardens, for the benefit of its inhabitants.