Geographies of Change: building a mutual welfare. Working method of Artway of Thinking

La Redazione,02/02/2009

Fifteen years of research dedicated to the artistic thought and action within the public sphere. artway of thinking is the name given to the cooperation between two artists, Stefania Mantovani

Fifteen years of research dedicated to the artistic thought and action within the public sphere.

artway of thinking is the name given to the cooperation between two artists, Stefania Mantovani and Federica Thiene, started in Venice in 1992;
it is the name of the experimentation dedicated to the artistic thought and action within the public sphere (urban and social), related to the community-based public art born in the same year;
it is the core to which other individuals are attracted from time to time to deal together with a social theme (suggested by a committant) through a creative and collective interdisciplinary process. artway of thinking is the name of a cultural association, established in 1996 with an instrumental profile for effective experimentation (research).
The research has started off from the specific public and participative performing art sphere (action), to investigate and reveal the basic mechanisms of the creative process, specifically in the case of a collective process; therefore, it has focused on “how to” act, leaving the “form of action” issue within the collective-creative process, as the final outcome generated by the result obtained by the work group.
The intention to reveal the mechanisms underlying an interdisciplinary creative process is meant to respond to a need and demonstrate the possibility to act in a harmonious and responsible fashion, to “transform” micro and macro areas (dimensions) of the civil society, in harmony with nature and the actual state of things.

The purpose here is to identify the focal points from which the research has progressed during the last 15 years and present some results demonstrated during the experimentation, which will be subject to a future in-depth analysis, to draw-up and publish a methodology of good management of the collective creative processes aimed at building a common welfare.

The elements focused upon by the research are here expressed as basic questions, searching during the last 15 years for an answer through the fulfillment of specific collective processes.
The information on each single project is available at

Which dimensions does art favour? 1992 cuspide cagliari
How to go from an idea expressed by the single individual to a collective project? 1993 cuspide venezia
In a static system does listening to dreams and needs point to the start up of a change? 1994 lebensmittel
What is the role of a museum (or promotional institution) of modern art? 1994 zona-riuso
What is the essence of art beside the expressive forms? How does the personality of the creator influence the creative act? 1995 qual’é il cuore?
Can a creative act change a collective point of view? 1995 chiese evoluzioniste
When thinking of an artistic action within the public sphere, could there be an egenomy alternative to the art market? 1995 box-culture
As a group, which company system should be used to act within the public sphere? Which would be the simplest and most flexible form? 1996 fondazione dell’associazione artway of thinking
Relationship, dialogue, exchange, gift giving: are these the basic ingredients of multi-disciplinary co-creation? 1996 chow
Is a vision of sustainable development based on making the best use of all the potential resources available? 1997 leader ii
Is there a common language between art and architecture? Can it be shared? 1997 concorso inu-wwf
Does the map of a territory bear the marks of its potential future? And what about a person’s DNA? 1999 prusst
How does relational art come to be part of a modern art exhibition? 1999 con molto piacere
What is the social role of a contemporary artist? How can he work within the civil society outside the specific artistic environment? 2000 perchè/?
Does art broaden the the boundaries of perception? 2000 oltre
Can the artist act as an enzyme for responsible social change? 2000 dirigibile
Is art a luxury? Or is it a common ground to be cultivated? 2001 l’arte è un lusso?
How is a collective vision engendered? Does the participation to a collective process contribute to creating social responsibility? 2001 ms3
How can a solidarity enterprise be realized? 2001 welcome in venice
How can the young people’s creative expression be encouraged? 2002 porto un nuova città
Is art a divine expression? 2003 relation:ships
How does the creative process work? How can accrescerit be directed towards working for the common welfare? 2003 processi creativi
Can the arts and creativity be the instruments to overcome social boundaries? 2004 boa
Can the arts contribute to reveal the hidden realities of a city? Can it offer moments of political mediation? 2004 urban apriamo i muri
How can clichés and prejudices interfere with the coming of new ideas? 2005 cantieri la ginestra
What essential features should characterize an organization created to act as a motor for social development? 2005 nuove generazioni
Does social integration concern everybody? Is consciously coming into play the necessary action? 2006 inclusion refugees network
Is an effective communication the symptom of a good relationship with oneself and the rest of the world? 2006 master in comunicazione creativa ed etica
Which values can women contribute to build a more equitable society? 2006 la politica delle donne.

Experimantation through each collective creative process has lead to identifying phases and instruments of the process, that if organized contribute to build a methodology. Risks and obstacles have furthermore emerged both as to the interdisciplinary group operativity and to the degree of sustainability and integration of the new production (result of the process); specific practices, approaches and additional instruments for a positive management of group dynamics, interdisciplinary planning and long term sustainability of an enterprise were consequently integrated into the methodology.

Some basic themes treated in the experimentation, presented in 4 chapters as propositions, are listed here below:

(creativity, creator, creative action)
Creativity is the energy intrinsic in the individual: the external context (culture, society) can stimulate or block it, just like the personality is a common asset and, as such, possesses a value that must be acknowledged and encouraged in the single individual and the collectivity. The creative expression is a way to relate to the rest of the world and feel free. The creative action is an act of will where energy gets into action: it’s acting while being conscious of using such energy. The creative action is natural, it is the reflex of the creator, it is healthy and if not taken heed of can lead to discomfort. We all can do it. The creative action is the only way to change, both as an individual and as a member of the community. The creative action can be of transformation or foundation; in the first case the elements required to generate the new are already present in the context taken under consideration, in the second they are present in the creator’s essence. When the creative act is collective it acquires more power and has a greater influence. The active creative energy is self-generating. A creative act aimed at common welfare is not self-centered; it is undoubtedly the sum of party interests. The creative action is generated by the self, it depends on the creator’s state of mind, it is influenced by his/her personality, which determines his/her point of view, feeling and acting. A conscious creative action cannot leave out of consideration the functioning of the “human machine”. The opposite of a creative condition is a conformist state of mind. We are the creators of our reality (neurosciences).

(idea, dream, points of view, observation)
Prejudice limits the possibility to see, communicate, be ourself. Most often we see only what we expect to see, but just a change in our point of view suffices to open new horizons before our eyes. The dream is a powerful instrument of survival, it is a personal resource. Dreams follow a personal aethics: to share them, broaden trasformathem and make them part of the community is a generous act. In a dream our actions are constantly adapted to our vital needs, fear and judgement are instruments of creative elaboration, not of oppression. Leave room for dreams is an act of extreme courage. Dreams and desires lead us to reveal our potential and objectives. The points of view depend upon the observer’s space-time position and on his/her personality (history and culture). Prejudices and clichés are fixed points of view. The incapacity to change point of view (and therefore to relate to others) inhibits the change (creative act) and the greatest hurdles are represented by fear of change and by the reluctance to break the rules of the preconstituted system. Subjective points of view interrelate with the collective (from clichés to multidiscipline). Observation is the sum of the collected points of view, subjectivity and temporariness are values to be respected. Observation is at the base of every responsible act of personal and social change. Vital properties of the group-organism. Broadmindedness/ Inclusion/ Participation, Temporariness/ Reconfigurability, Reticularity/ Simultaneity, Self-Regenaration/ Development. Basic roles (temporary) functional for a good management of the creative process: the external observer, the coordinator, the spokesman. A group bearer of a new vision grows by stimulating participation, concretizes the vision programming the activities, it becomes a popularizer. Attitudes towards team work: spontaneity vs. self-control, slowness vs. rapidity, intuition vs logic, listening before deciding, coordination, constructive creativity, horizontality within the hierarchy, harmony among genders. Some reactions are common to all, they are inborn in the genetic patrimony of the humanity (behavioural genetics). Observation is the starting point of a change process; within a collective process it is for the parties a point of convergence. Purpose of the observation is the indifferentiated collection of what already exhists, with the objective to identify new regenerating perspectives. Point of observation: a state of curiosity and contemplation without judgement on the judgement. Some areas for analysis of the context: physical milieu, social environment (social actors and social relations), history, vocation and potential, resources, services, productive activities, collaborations and networks, points of weakness and points of strength. Observation is also the ability to listen (by the committant to the citizenry). We can change our reality by changing our point of view (neuroscience and the theory of relativity).

(relation, collective creative process, group, roles, attitudes)
To trigger a collective creative process aimed at constructing a common welfare, it is necessary to go from the vision of the single path to the one of the group. Triggering a new relational process is the focal point of the path. The principal resources are human: people with their fears, abilities, dreams, motivations….. To “Create culture” could be translated as “to give space to the individual’s expression within the collective sphere”, “increase the cultural patrimony” would then mean “invest in People”, and within this scope culture is the result of love. To share ideas and personal points of view up to team planning (interdisciplinary): a question of relationship. Trust (opening towards diversity and change) is the ground for passage from the individual to the collective. A group does exhist as long as a common goal exhists between the single individuals; it is based on shared language and practices; it is incisive when acting in a programmed and organized way (good management of the process) based on rules and abilities (talent and competence). The definition of the roles results from a dialogue between the group members aimed at constructing a harmonious and socially oriented organism, where all members feel gratified.

(realization, specific activities, socially oriented economy, sustainability, integration).
We are talking about an action that doesn’t require completeness, but realizes itself in its becoming. To create a masterwork is to realize a work recognized by the collective. The programming of activities requires: moral and aesthetical values, sharing, specific methods and practices, human resources already in existence and to be identified, definition of roles and competences, formation and alignment of the participants, planning of punctual activities for each line of intervention, planning of the support network and analysis of the correlations, material resources already existing or to be identified, verification of the sustainability of the interventions, planning of future developments, timing
Gantt, communication and behavioural startegies. The community has a right to dream and plan its future; the socially oriented economy is a cocreated practice advantegeous for the implementation. It is based on two principles: the first is the awareness that man is a sum of resources; if we reveal all the potential resources of each participant to a social enterprise, we have an incredible capital to be invested in the system. A good sustainable enterprise starts from the investment into the system of the potential resources of each individual. The second factor is the awareness that work must be seen as an opportunity to valorize oneself, to become autonomous, to put into play one’s own talents and abilities, to create wellbeing and not create dependents or dependence. A socially oriented enterprise is the sum of six factors possessed by a human being: (work force), material means, knowledge, organization and management, economy (money and finance) and the C factor, that is the capacity to stay together. The socially oriented enterprise is the construction of a process that reorganizes these six factors into a system, able to valorize them and make them productive. To make enterprise means first of all to promote the growth, the autonomy and the satisfaction of an individual in harmony with the surrounding environment. To build an enterprise together using the socially oriented economy expands the potential of an individual, who feels part of a complex of ideas, values and resources called community. It is a sustainable and integrated action because it is generated by the individual resources and capacity to come into play (l’Economia solidale by Luis Razeto and l’Economia sostenibile by Serge Latouche).
The intention to continue the research on the interdisciplinary creative process aimed at public welfare is tied to the will to cooperate with anyone motivated to offer his/her contribution. The program illustrates the development of a financing and fundraising plan to support the work required for publication of the methodology.

by artway of thinking [Stefania Mantovani and Federica Thiene], artists

Text publiched in "Progetto Arte – JOURNAL 11", Cittadellarte edizioni, 2007.