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SQUATTIN'BO

This is the place where I'm from. 

Bologna is a small town in the northern part of Italy, where the Padana Valley meets the Apennino mountains. It lies on the ancient Roman road called "Via Emilia," a straight line 400 km long built exactly under the sun's path, more than 2000 years ago. A land of good food and good wine, where agriculture and technology work together, creating one of the most important industrial poles in Europe. Bologna is a place where people enjoy life and its fruits. The culture of food, the passion for motors, wine, and beautiful women. It is now known as the red city, both for the color of its old roofs and the left administration which governed the city for the last 50 years. After the Second World War, the city and its citizens engaged in a new and personal way of a social system, creating the first cooperative between farmers and industry, reaching within the years the highest living standards of Italy, a sort of happy island where happy people live with the strange idea of "capital-communism." Certainly, its most important piece is the famous local university, founded more than 900 years ago, making it the oldest university in the Western world. Since then, Bologna started to be an important site for European cultural and intellectual life. Thousands of students started reaching the two medieval towers (the symbol of the city) to improve their knowledge and follow their dreams and hopes. Since 1971, the University of Bologna runs the literature faculty of DAMS (Discipline Art, Music & Show), specialized in visual arts and directed by Umberto Eco, which became soon an attraction pole for the new Italian and European cultural generation. Even though the humanistic approach to the course is still now an important goal and a serious input for the students, the faculty cannot offer much. The laboratories are few and not well-equipped, there are no theaters or studios to improve or practice any kind of visual expression such as cinema, theatre, or lately, video and photography. In this context, passing through different student revolts (in 1968, joining the French spring revolution and later, during 1977, when the student Francesco Lorusso was killed by police during a demonstration downtown), the need for a space where youth could have a direct confrontation between ideas and enjoy together at the same time became the priority for many young people who lived and studied in Bologna. At the end of the 80s, some of these young students entered for the first time in the basement of an old theatre in the center of the city, property of the local municipality. The place was under reconstruction, but works were stopped for years. Once inside, the young squatters organized an open laboratory for everyone who wanted to produce and realize any sort of art meeting or performances, concerts, parties, exhibitions, and video live-set. Few tubes, old televisions, and some graffiti, and the bar was ready. And drinks were really cheap. Using any kind of recycled stuff taken from the street, they created modern sculptures and organized their first exhibition. The place took the name of Isola Nel Kantiere INK (The Island in the erecting yard) and it was the first squat in town. In the following three years, the group of the island produced several art events, film festivals, sponsored new bands and music concerts, opened political discussions on the street, organized demonstrations and exhibitions against the first Gulf war. It was the beginning of the no-global movement. The INK became the main site for the intellectual alternative scene in the city of the "Alma Mater Studiorum". Still now people remember those times as the beginning of a new age, the first step towards a new concept of communication arts, different from any other university realities. During spring 1991, just before being shut down by police, the INK project hosted the 3D convention, the first web-meeting in Italy. Bologna became an open laboratory for those who wanted to improve their knowledge through a simple concept: self-production. Hundreds of thousands of students reach Bologna every year. All of them are just over the age of consent, for the first time on their own, far from home, rich with creative energy ready to explode. A new experience in life. This city changes people. It's the place where youth become adults. In these last 15 years, Bologna has been witness to a constant growth of this kind of spaces: Link, RedSkin, TPO, Level 57, and more. Some of them were open just for a few months, some others still exist now. They are called "social centers." The local administration finally accepted and recognized the artistic value of this new young production outside the usual artistic and cultural circuit. Institutions started to sponsor some logistical supplies for the young artist. Many of the people taken in the photographs are now movie directors, editors, writers, photographers, actors, and painters.

B42K is the story of this generation.

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ISOLA NEL KANTIERE

Located in a two-story basement in the heart of the city, behind the Arena del Sole theater, just steps away from via Indipendenza, Isola nel Kantiere is an occupied social center that, in the following years, evolves into the most advanced experimentation hub for Italian hip-hop and rap. Every first Saturday of the month, they host evenings called Ghetto Blaster ("The world is a ghetto, our music is a blaster"), endless events animated by DJs, rappers, and graffiti artists such as Soul Boy, DJ R, Speaker Dee Mo, Papa Ricky, DJ Gruff, during which the microphone and the stage are available to everyone. During its three years of existence at Isola, various experiences take place: from hip-hop to cyberpunk, from post-industrial art to trash movies of the New Cinema Inferno. Emerging groups like CCCP and Sud Sound System perform there. The social center will be evicted in August 1991, and the promised new location, in a former warehouse of the municipal pharmacies, will never be assigned.

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PELLEROSSA

CSOA

The CSOA Pellerossa, a self-managed occupied social center, was situated in the former university canteen in Piazza Verdi. This space was occupied in April 1993 and subsequently cleared in the following August, meanwhile hosting historic concerts with bands like The Offspring and NOFX. In many ways, Pellerossa was the embryo of the subsequent Livello57 in Via dello Scalo, which later, after negotiations with the municipal administration, moved to Via Muggia near the Stalingrad Bridge. With Pellerossa, Piazza Verdi represented more than ever the beating heart of Bologna's underground life. Obviously, at the same time, this bothered the residents more than ever.

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LIVELLO57

The first location of "Livello 57" was an occupied building of Acostud in Via Dello Scalo in October 1993 [18]. The participants were largely former occupants of the CSOA Pellerossa, an occupied social center in the former university canteen in Piazza Verdi, which had been occupied in April 1993 and evicted the following August, hosting historic concerts with bands like The Offspring and NOFX in the meantime. Other components of the Livello occupation included students from the "Panther" movement and the creators of "Radio K Centrale" and the independent publishing house "Grafton9," established the previous year. Livello distinguished itself in three areas: in the struggle for the "liberation of knowledge" with the collective "InfoShock NoCopyright," in anti-prohibitionism, particularly with informational campaigns on psychoactive substances, and in artistic promotion, positioning itself as a crucial hub for Italian hip-hop, raggamuffin, and especially electronic music circuits. Problems with drug dealers and petty crime revolving around the social center were some of the major challenges that Livello faced in the subsequent years. In June 1995, a young man from the social center was stabbed by a drug dealer who wanted him to leave. Following issues of this nature, the municipal administration decided to evict the structure. Negotiations ensued with the occupiers, and after protests and demonstrations, an agreement was reached for the concession of a new space on Via Muggia, next to Porta Mascarella and under the Stalingrad Bridge, opened in November 1995, three months after the closure of the old headquarters. The activities of information and anti-prohibitionist propaganda continued in the new location, with the establishment of the "Laboratorio Antiproibizionista" (Lab57), collaborations with the SERT for information on narcotics, a project that also received funding from the European Community. New initiatives emerged in the center, carrying forward artistic experiences: in music and electronic art, "Mutek" (created by the founder of Mutoidi, Joe Rush), and in hip-hop, "Zona Dopa," which also built the largest skate ramp in Italy at that time. Since 1997, Livello has organized the largest street music event: the "Street Rave Parade Antiproibizionista." Over the years, the music festival has attracted over 100,000 people [19] marching through the streets of central Bologna, with dozens of electronic music floats and widespread use of psychoactive substances. Between late 1998 and October 1999, the social center closed due to internal problems and divisions, exacerbated by persistent issues with drug dealers and petty crime. With the arrival of the administration led by Giorgio Guazzaloca in 2000, negotiations began that led to the signing of an agreement with the municipality. The agreement included renting the Via Muggia headquarters for initiatives with low sound impact and crowd density and another location on Via del Battirame for large events. With Sergio Cofferati's election as mayor of Bologna in 2004, new problems arose for Livello. The new administration refused permits for the passage of the Street Rave Parade through the city streets. In the 2006 and especially 2007 editions, the procession was limited to peripheral streets and the final location, resulting in a decrease in participation. Starting in 2006, Cofferati questioned the convention for not respecting some agreements. On May 26, 2006, the Via Muggia headquarters was searched by the carabinieri, who arrested two occupants for possession of narcotics, one immediately released for a small quantity and the other, Livello's lawyer Maria Pia Scarciglia, accused of possessing over 500 g of hashish, acquitted on appeal [20]. Following the search, both locations of the social center were seized on July 25, and Livello's spokespeople accused Cofferati of orchestrating a "persecutory plan" to shut down Livello [21]. A new occupation in October 2007 on Via Stalingrad was cleared after a few days [22]. The Livello57 experience in Bologna continues with the opening of a new space in Bologna, on Via 25 Settembre, under the name H.U.B., in Via Serra 2h. "The Livello57 association aims to create experiences of social cooperation capable of addressing the needs of young people, the less affluent, less guaranteed, and more disadvantaged components, organizing activities aimed at psychophysical well-being, particularly to be implemented in the context of the Bolognina neighborhood. The activity will primarily involve building communication with the objective of promoting fair and solidarity-oriented paths, integration, and the implementation of equal opportunities that help the Bolognese citizen and aspiring one (foreigner or out-of-town student) coexist and blend cultures and habits. The projects will be implemented using the skills already present within the association itself and in collaboration with other associations."

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LINK

PROJECT

In 1991, following the eviction of Isola del Kantiere, there arose the need to find, together with the Municipality of Bologna, a new space dedicated to cultural projects that were previously developed within the center. After negotiating for a new space between the occupying group and the municipality, in 1994, an ex-pharmaceutical warehouse at Via Fioravanti 14 was identified, just behind Bologna Centrale Station. This space was suitable for the new club, which could now make use of five large halls for shows, concerts, and DJ sets (blue, white, schwarzraum, black room, dance hall), a bar, a bookstore, an internet point, as well as rooms dedicated to production not open to the public. Many groups participated in the associative project, including Officina Ciclope, Officine Alchemiche, Loew, Optimix, operating in various fields, from video art to cinema, from performance art to music production. For the new center, it was decided to follow models different from typical Italian social centers, closer to Northern European club experiences like Melkweg in Amsterdam or Podewil in Berlin. This allowed various groups (then called "editorial offices") to converge in the new space, creating a sort of co-working structure where everyone's specializations and even external and independent laboratory activities found space. All these entities, among other things, participated in the clubbing activities proposed by the center. Link opened on April 11, 1994, with a concert by The Work. Over time, Link's programming structured into various containers, often with the room where they were realized serving as the emblem, allowing the proposals to have a visual structure, almost like a schedule. From the first year, some formats that would endure over the years were proposed, such as "Cinema Nootropico Notturno" (from Star Trek to porn) and the New "Cinema Inferno" for film screenings, "Altre Musiche" for contemporary and experimental music, evenings of "EDM Dancerzone," presentations of Bolognese video productions in Extraschermo, or collaboration with the TTV Performing Arts on Screen festival, which included periodic screenings of videos related to theater and dance performances. There were also evenings organized in collaboration with other entities, with a programming that ranged from contemporary music to free improvisation, from rock to electronic and industrial music. Many theatrical performances were also presented, such as "L'Occhio Belva" by Motus, "Antigone" by Lenz Rifrazioni. During these years, there were active connections with Sarajevo, from where reports and films about the city emerging from the war were regularly programmed by the social center. In 2004, the LINK Project closed to reopen with very different methods and projects in the new LINK Associated. It is still remembered today as one of the most important Cultural Centers in Italy of the '90s, both for the quality of research and for the development of projects involving experiences from all over Europe.

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TPO

TEATROPOLIVALENTE OCCUPATO

On November 6, 1995, some artistic groups, particularly theater performers, occupied a theater as part of the complex of the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna in Via Irnerio, giving rise to the Occupied Multipurpose Theater (Teatro Polivalente Occupato or TPO). The building, owned by the Ministry of Finance and in the process of being transferred to the Academy of Fine Arts [25], was designed and built in the early 1960s to become a theater but had never been completed or used. The occupants independently carried out adaptation works, creating a space that would host numerous artistic experiences in the following years (in addition to theatrical performances, noteworthy were important jazz music festivals, artisanal production workshops, and political activities). Among the most significant groups that settled at TPO were the local section of the Zapatista network ¡Ya basta! and the main node of Indymedia Italy. In the following years, negotiations began with the municipal administration for the relocation of TPO to another venue. In 2000, an agreement was reached for the temporary assignment of the former Euraquarium on Via Lenin, a structure of over 6500 m² but located in a peripheral neighborhood. On August 21, 2000, the space on Via Irnerio was evicted, officially for structural safety reasons, and shortly after, with a large procession, the collectives took possession of the new structure. The new TPO gradually aligned itself with the movement known as the White Overalls and later the Disobbedienti, becoming one of its most significant centers. On January 25, 2001, social center activists organized a demonstration against the opening of a Temporary Stay Center in Via Mattei. A large protest took place with the participation of activists from all radical movements in Bologna, culminating in the "dismantling" of the center. Following the invasion of the structure and clashes with several police charges, 47 people were indicted, including some representatives of the Disobbedienti such as Luca Casarini, Carlo Bottos, Domenico Mucignat, and Gianmarco De Pieri; the secretary of the Bologna branch of Rifondazione Comunista Tiziano Loreti and other members of his party; the assessor Antonio Amorosi and some representatives of the Greens, with charges ranging from "unauthorized demonstration to building invasion" to "damage". The trial is still in the opening phase of the proceedings (March 2008). On February 20, 2002, TPO was also involved in large-scale police searches and seizures of computer materials carried out by the police at the "headquarters" of Indymedia. In June of the same year, it hosted the 2002 edition of Hackmeeting. Due to multiple longstanding disagreements, some components of the center dissolved or left the structure, including groups like H20, Sexi shock, some theater collectives, and other political groups. Meanwhile, negotiations for the municipal assignment of a new venue continued, initiated from the "temporary" transfer to Via Lenin with the Guazzaloca administration and then continued with the Cofferati administration, focusing only on the area referring to the Disobbedienti that had remained in the space. In the fall of 2007, an agreement was reached for the eight-year lease of a structure owned by the State Railways on Via Casarini, considerably smaller than the former Euraquarium but located in a central area of Bologna. In November, the relocation took place.

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STREETRAVEPARADES

Organized by the former social center "Livello 57" in Bologna, the Street Rave Parade antiproibizionista was, for a decade, one of the flagship events in the Italian rave scene. Originating in 1996 within a strictly underground context, Bologna's Street Rave Parade underwent a remarkable evolution, transforming from a gathering of enthusiasts into a massive event, with peaks of participation exceeding 100,000 people. The initial context of the Street Rave Parade was deeply rooted in the underground, characterized by a rebellion against prohibitionist norms associated with rave music and culture. However, over the years, the event inevitably underwent a process of "relative" commercialization. This change was highlighted by the participation of artists and organizations from the mainstream club scene, marking a transition towards a broader and more accessible dimension. Despite its growth in terms of participation and visibility, the Street Rave Parade maintained a strong political connotation until its last edition in 2006. The event remained true to its anti-prohibitionist roots, continuing to promote messages of freedom and resistance through rave music and culture. This photogaphs offer an authentic and radical glimpse into one of the events that helped define the Italian rave scene. It captures the energy, passion, and determination of those who participated in this manifestation, celebrating rave culture as a tool for political expression and transgression. Bologna's Street Rave Parade remains a significant chapter in the history of Italian rave culture, symbolizing the fusion of underground and mainstream, political resistance, and cultural celebration. Its legacy continues to live on in the memories of those who participated and in the influence it exerted on the country's music and social scene.