Viva Voce, 2016

Viva Voce, 2016
A project by Barbara Baroncini, Laura Bisotti, Simona Paladino, Gabriella Presutto
collective performance
Piazza dei Colori, Bologna, IT

«… Just the name: Viva Voce, l see it suitable for Piazza dei Colori… it could be a good sign! A shock for this square!» Livio, Association “MakeinBo”

Viva Voce is a cooperative project meant for Piazza dei Colori, in the north-east suburbs of Bologna. This was the birthplace of the idea of this project, which developed in a never-ending discussion with its inhabitants and its spaces, so wide and quiet.

«I don’t live in that area, … I mean, when I go there, it’s like to be in the desert … you see only a falling leaf, that’s all, there’s nobody, you hear no sound. Instead, during the night … first there are some people, then they are sent away because they make noise and finally there’s no one left in the square.» Matteo, 9-year-old primary school student, Tempesta Schools

A long square, born from a building project of the 80’s, which lost its function of “big courtyard” as the time went by, becoming an area nearly unknown to the inhabitants of Bologna and not much used even by those who live in the surroundings. In the absence of human voices, you only hear the background noise of the traffic from the junction.

«When I moved here in 1987, I liked the square because it was an ideal place for the kids and for the neighbours … you felt like being in a courtyard, a big courtyard. » Luigi, Chairman of the Community Centre “Croce del Biacco”

Viva Voce was born with the aim of breaking the silence of this part of the city, in order to fill it with people and the sound of their voices. A collective performance built with those who decided to join the project.

«Give life to the square with the coexistence of different realities: if we could share these differences in the space, we would create richness.» Jamila, Centre of Islamic Culture

The performance was a sequence of a few simple actions: every participant brought his own chair from home and took a seat in the public space. Then, standing up one after the other, everyone pronounced the vowel «aaa», keeping the sound until the square was filled with voices.

«Sometimes the simple things are the most beautiful and involving, because if people have to keep in mind to do just three simple things, “they’re in”, they’ve become performers at that point!» Steve Piccolo, artist

«Pardon? What’s the aim of this voice, of this Viva voce? What’s the point? Why do we have to emit this … » Liliana, Community Centre “Croce del Biacco”

The gestures of the performance were conceived as a structure open to the debate and to the possibility of being called into question by the participants themselves. The previous step was a long process of involvement of the people of the territory, with a list of meetings with the inhabitants of the area, associations, recreation centres, schools and hostels.
An opportunity to discuss the meaning of a community action in order to gather many voices in a public space, among the nostalgia of the ones who remembered chatting with neighbours, the fear of crossing a space that seems to have become too much wide and unknown and the scepticism of those who have seen a full square just on TV, when there are the “important” people.

«I can say this: there must be important people in the crowded square to be happy… to blow people’s minds!» Matteo, primary school student, Tempesta Schools

«The key is to adjust your own emission to the context: the kind of transmission among the participants will depend on the person beside them.» Massimiliano Colletti, Città del Capo Radio

During the meetings, the following question often came out: «Why “a”?»
Swapping the roles, the question was asked the interlocutor himself: What can it mean? What can you communicate? What do you want to express? This opened a space for dialogue and discussion on the contents to fill in that «a» with meaning – just a sound that, pronounced aloud all together, could be a declaration of presence.
The sound of a single vowel, the first of the alphabet, has cancelled the language differences and the oral communication itself and has become expression of a shared action. Therefore the «a» is a container, what is inside the «a» is what everyone has brought: an intimate thought, a personal reflection or even just their own physical presence expressed in the shape of a sound.


The day of the performance, Piazza dei Colori resounded with voices for some minutes. Taking a seat within the square and making perceive your own presence has stimulated a different idea of inhabiting the city. A wish of participation expressed even by the ones who watched and listened to the square from the windows of their houses.

«Can we make an “O” too?»

The second part of the performance started with this request.
After doing what they had been asked, the participants took possession of the place and of the project, spontaneously re-interpreting the simple structure of the performance in order to give voice to other sounds. After the “O”, it came the request of pronouncing an “I” too and finally an “Ohm”. These apparently playful requests expressed the people’s need to give voice to their own presence on that specific day and in that peculiar place. Once the hierarchy of words had been abolished, the emission of these sounds went beyond the border of the inner linguistic landscape of each person. No more a barrier, but a means of transmission from voice to voice. Simple vowels or codified sounds as the “Ohm” highlighted an important transition: who was in the square in that moment was no more a simple performer, but the author of the performance itself.

A project made with the support of:
Comune di Bologna, Quartiere San Donato – San Vitale, INCREDIBOL! – l’INnovazione CREativa DI BOLogna, Accademia di Belle Arti di Bologna

In cooperation with:
Arca di Noè Società Cooperativa Sociale – Casa Rivani, Ass. Angolo B, Ass. Arti & Restauro Onlus, Ass. Coro Stelutis, Ass. Mattei Martelli, Ass. MakeinBo, Ass. Teatrino a due pollici, Cantieri Meticci, Centro Giovanile Mattei Martelli La Saletta, Centro Sociale Culturale Croce del Biacco, Centro di Cultura Islamica, Cooperativa Sociale Onlus CEMI, Scuola dell’Infanzia Villetta Mattei, Scuola Primaria Livio Tempesta, Tavolo di progettazione partecipata del Quartiere San Donato-San Vitale – gruppo Croce del Biacco – Piazza dei Colori

Videos and photos by:
Irene Fenara, Francesco Grazioli, Serena Magagnoli

Special thanks to:
Massimiliano Colletti, Francesco Grazioli, Luigi Luccarini, Steve Piccolo, Silvia Vacchi, Stefano W. Pasquini



All content © Copyright 2024 by Laura Bisotti. in Italiano