In Bari sits an 83,000 square meter abandoned military facility. The locals are working with and at times against the city to turn the space into a public area featuring artists of all kinds and community based uses of all variety. It was incredible to be In a city the size of Bari and step through a door contained by flaking, run down walls and find a community pulsing with the desire of the people. The desire to sing, dance, play music and ping pong, gather, commune around a fire, display art and build a community. The space cries out for tender loving care and the people seem ready to answer the call if only the governmental red tape would release its grasp.
Children play around the community tables outsides. Two recycled art centaurs guard the entries. A room of people on couches listen to a man play guitar. The only electricity comes from a generator that is and is not running depending on apparently nothing. A young man in spiked leather and a magnificent multicolored Mohawk seven inches tall is a poet and a writer I’m told. Old men and families come and go. Kids slip through the created fissure in the fence and escape into the depths of the complex. I speak to a man who is organizing their fourth community meeting in hopes of working with the local government to solidify the status of this place as public. I can tell it has been a challenge. He shows me upstairs. A library. School desks. Young people engaging with each other. Open rooms as far down the hall as the light allows sight. Seemingly infinite potential.
I slip through the fissure and into the complex. I am always looking for the one artifact that will remind me of this place and be my totem for inspiration. The one thing that somehow someone has overlooked. I see after a while that so many feet have moved so many eyes over this space that uncovering the hidden treasure might not be a search for an object at all.
I sing and play my favorite songs in a large empty room with green moss slowly coercing nature to reemerge with the construction. A beautiful sight and acoustics that make me feel like I’m playing somewhere special. I find a place to sit and practice. Where am I? A city I suppose. But it feels more like a community… or at the very least, the sprouting spring of a community. I would one day like to see what becomes of this place.