"I was advised to stay indoors at night, to wear baggy clothes, to cover or cut my hair, to try to look like a man, to move to someplace more expensive, to take taxis, to buy a car, to move in groups, to get a man to escort me –all modern versions of Greek walls and Assyrian veils, alla asserting it was my responsibility to control my own and men's behavior rather than society's to ensure my freedom. I realized that many women had been so successfully socialized to know their place that they had chosen more conservative, gregarious lives without realizing why. The very desire to walk alone had been extinguished in them –but it had not in me"
In Bologna by Night, curated by Elisa Del Prete and presented as part of Danza Urbana Festival –a Urban Dance&Performance Festival in Bologna, IT– I opened the project to other women. After a two days workshop held by ethno-semiologist Gaspare Caliri and myself –in which we shared our common ideas about danger and decided for the notion of "comfortless" as our key word– the women were asked to map the city for me, going out at night privately and individually for the whole duration of the Festival (5 days).
To be part of a Dance context underlined the central role plaid by the body and the physical experience of the space in creating a new topography, and it also gave me the possibility to play with the concepts of visibility and gaze. In fact, since the project requires the women to go out alone –as they would do in their daily life– no one was ever allowed to see them. Although they were there, they were invisible.
Their chosen invisibility amplified and plaid with the historical invisibility of women in the public context (unless prostitutes), their absence in most decision making abouturban policies, andthe lack of (proper and effective) attention and solutions on women abuse. Having their bodies freed from the audience's gaze, the women reclaim their freedom.
While taking notes of the areas they felt uncomfortable about, they also shared their results, day by day and pin after pin, on Freeda –a website where the audience of the festival could virtually follow them.
Doing the project myself, I sent a nightly report of my own exploration –few lines and a picture that described my intimate experience of the space.
The final maps, one for women and each with her data displayed, will be shown in an exhibition also curated by Elisa Del Prete later this year.