Vertical Agora

an experience that turned into a project

This suspended, rarefied and instead dense time, this intense time, has taken away a lot, but has given us ample space for reflection. Spaces of thought to be built beyond dismay, in which the idea that our present, which looks to the future, asks for new paradigms, new perspectives to see and redesign society, appears or lets itself be perceived.
The months of our suspended spring were an extraordinary time, out of the ordinary, but also far from the routine of normality that imposes a frenzied pace on our contemporaneity, a race that does not look to the goal but to the speed of the pace. The forced immobility of our bodies spurred the fertile mobility of ideas.
Free from performance anxiety, without having to prove anything to anyone, we have worked free from market rules, we have developed ideas to be useful, we have overcome the sense of helplessness, we have rediscovered the importance of a culture of participation, in which each makes sense and carries sense.
We, we, us, from the very first lines I am using the first person plural.
We, the people, the women, the men, the companions of this adventure. Each of us is one and is plural. This renewed sense of community, of bonding, of entanglement is an important value. We have regained awareness of the relationship. It was suddenly clear that it would be by taking care of “the other” that we would have a chance to save us all.
And then there is the smaller “we”, the one that appears when zooming into an apartment in the heart of San Lorenzo, a strange neighborhood-village in the heart of Rome. With Massimo we found ourselves thinking from the first days of the lockdown on how to spend ourselves, on how to give meaning and offer value, and it was simple, it was enough to listen, open the window, the one that overlooks the courtyard and that of the open computer. on the world. It was enough to put our gaze into play. It was enough to create beauty.
I live in culture, I deal with art, theater, so from the first time that all of Rome opened the window and sang – it was March 13 I think, then the whole of Italy would have done it – I felt deeply and clearly that that was not just a gesture of resistance but of existence. We opposed the fear of death with what makes us special, creativity, the expression of our creativity, culture. It was not a diversion, a distraction from the problem, it was not entertainment but art, the art of living. We didn’t want to hibernate, but to make sense of the days.

A few days later, while I was singing, I saw in the window opposite a couple of friends dancing, excited I told Massimo, he thought only for a second, he tinkered with the computer, took the video projector and pointed it at the facade, framing our friends’ dance in Ginger and Fred’s dance, we made the notes of Chic to chic resound throughout the courtyard and thus the poetry of a moment was born that thrilled us all. The day after, the video of this moment posted on social media was taken up by Italian newscasts and newspapers with articles such as the one signed by Gad Lerner in Repubblica, but also abroad in Libération. It was just the beginning, also thanks to the post of our neighbor who deals with communication, the image has been around the world, to be posted even by Madonna as a symbol of resilience. News programs such as CNN or NBC, but also Chinese and Indian networks, have spoken of it as an incitement to hope. Eventually Apple has decided to close its international commercial to celebrate the power of creativity at the time of COVID-19 “Creativity goes on” with the images of our poetic projection. This small authentic gesture of ours became a symbol, a sign of the hope that beauty would save the world.


“Creativity Goes On” the Apple adv with our projection at the very end.

Meet us every day at the turn of the sunset

When, after a few days, many of the windows of Italy stopped singing, we, Massimo, I and the neighbors of our building and those around us continued to meet every day at the turn of the sunset. From our windows we have given life to what we now define our “Vertical Agora”. We have interacted, through what we are and what we know, literature, science, art, civil issues, life in short. There were moments we will not forget, such as our Dante day celebration when I read Ulysses’ Canto from the Divine Comedy while Massimo projected fragments of De Liguoro’s 1911 film “Inferno” on the surrounding facades; when we played the stories of the Righteous, which I had staged at the Santa Cecilia Auditorium, “hosting” our violinist friend Marco Valabrega who played for us, opening a virtual window for him projected on the front facade and singing with him from our courtyard; or the evening in which we projected on the facades, on the roofs and on our bodies the images of the works of art created during the lockdown collected by the Lazzaro art doesn’t sleep project and I danced on the terrace offering the movement of the body to the dance of color and light; we made the words of great literature reverberate by playing to find and trace paths in the pages read and projected to affirm the importance of looking at what we always know with new eyes.
Unforgettable and very strong then came the opportunity to represent the demonstration on 25 April. Gad Lerner, who had continued to follow our activities since the screening of Ginger and Fred, was in charge of presenting the live coverage of Repubblica TV, wrote to Massimo if he and I wanted to organize something “of our own”. We imagined our Civil Song, a video with an ascensional sequence plan in our Vertical Agora in which everyone from his window gave voice to the profound meaning of Liberation. Once again both personal and universal.


Gad Lerner’s tv show on April 25 for Repubblica TV


Many, many events in which we confronted each other, in which each gave something profoundly, authentically his own and offered it to the transformation of the encounter with the other. Without prejudice, without superstructures, we have built a sort of Esperanto of vision. Everyone talked about what fascinates him with the language that belongs to him, the answer would have come, unsettling and at the same time precise, from another world and perhaps in another language, all aware however that by listening to us we would have built a universe in relation. It was extremely engaging and exciting when to my reading of Borges’ story “Funes el memorioso” on the mysteries of memory, our friends from the next building, young neuro biologists researchers of the CNR, responded by telling their research and the latest discoveries on ” places “of memory in the brain.
These days, these months, these moments have been a great experience, on which we feel that it is absolutely worth thinking, we are doing it and we will continue to do it and we like to put this experience on the plate so that others can maybe develop it.
We have been going out, I hope, for years in which culture has been debased and portrayed as ephemeral, elitist, certainly not essential.
Those who have always known that it may also be true that culture is not eaten, but certainly one breathes, who lives from culture and for culture, has used this period, has exploited this time, having the intuition or at least the feeling that it could enclose an opportunity to rethink systems and styles, to reflect, reason, work and build new ways of doing and making culture available.

In an era in which we talk about continuous learning, this is certainly an important time for education, in the proper sense of the e ducere, to bring out from us, from each of us, what we know and what we are and put it into play to build awareness, knowledge, the future.

Somehow the surprise of an absurd event, totally unimaginable for most, such as the pandemic at the time of globalization, an absolutely unprecedented and unrelated condition, together with fear, ignited our intelligences, cognitive and emotional, triggered the our resilience. The amazement with which we suddenly looked at the world, our world, the sky, the seas, the nature that returned so quickly to recover beauty, that amazement, which even in pain and beyond fear lit our eyes, gave us the feeling of being able to have a vision of our future, of still being able to try, experiment, try to build fragment by fragment, life by life, choice by choice, to be able to build with a project.

A different spirit

Today, only a few months have passed, but the spirit with which we are facing this second wave is profoundly different, the panic of the unknown is populated by simulacra of known fears, fear of losing what we know, the status quo, the job, the fixed points, balances. Panic, distrust and anger are clouding our minds and seem to erase what our spirits have achieved in recent months. We run the risk that the desire for restoration will win over the healthy impulse to try to build a better society on new paradigms, but I believe that what we experienced in spring is very strong, the bulb is hidden there under the earth but it will bloom like a hyacinth. scented.



– The Vertical Agora participates in IPER, the Festival Delle Periferie Urbane promoted by the Museo delle Periferie, with a video story that will retrace some of the extraordinary events of recent months, and with a live performance by Gaia Riposati for Paola Romoli Venturi.

Here is the video on IPER channel:




– …all togheter watching our story, Beatyful and overwhelming. As usual.