Declining Democracy

Francis Alÿs
Michael Bielicky &
Kamila B. Richter

Roger Cremers
Juan Manuel Echavarría
Thomas Feuerstein
Thomas Hirschhorn
Thomas Kilpper
Lucy Kimbell
Cesare Pietroiusti
Artur Żmijewski



Courtesy Buuuuuuuuu and its contributors

The Buuuuuuuuu group is composed of three Italian artists, who have been living in Vienna for some years now. Their collaboration is motivated by the common interest in exerting their influence on the political events taking place in their country through art. As they declare on their webpage, the goal is to collect “ideas and projects against the authoritarian democracies”, to contribute to “the fall of Berlusconi’s Government” and to use “the internet to create an international network of people sharing their artistic actions and using alternative channels of language and communication”.  
On the website, the collective has created an archive for declaredly political contemporary art, like Santiago Sierra’s famous No or Ai Weiwei’s series of photographs in which the artist points his middle finger at symbols of power. The idea is to allow the users to trace parallels or repeat similar actions contextualizing them in their own everyday life.   Buuuuuuuuu uses the web as a connection tool for people who share ideas about politically committed art and on actionism on an international level. Already with their motto that stands out on the main page of their website, the artists declare the intention of their project: to urge the users to engage in actions, to “get their hands dirty” and to voice their own dissent. The collective launches participative initiatives, publishing brief instructions for actions that the users are encouraged to autonomously carry out and document. Each action is extremely easy to put into practice, using simple tools such as mobile phones or portable cassette players.  
They are simple, often ironic actions, which sometimes are reminiscent of performative art actions like Erwin Wurm’s One minute sculptures and rely on the participation of the audience becoming the protagonist. The projects are almost always based on an action carried out individually, in some cases in public spaces and in others in the intimacy of one’s own private sphere. They are small acts, like that of remaining silent while smiling for the time of one minute, recording the action using the video function of the mobile phone in sign of protest against the Italian premier; or like organizing a public demonstration all alone, but equipped with an audio player blasting the sound of an uprising crowd, generating for the passers-by a sense of melancholic and absurd contrast between what they see and what they hear.  
It is fundamental to the three artists to interact on a same level with the online community. The Buuuuuuuuu group puts its website at everyone’s disposal, inviting collaboration from whoever wants to, presenting their own projects and transforming the digital platform into a space for aggregation, a virtual place to express oneself and to testify one’s own dissent.

One minute smile against Berlusconi, 2011
Installation view at CCC Strozzina, Palazzo Strozzi, Firenze

Political Slogan, 2011
Installation view at CCC Strozzina, Palazzo Strozzi, Firenze

Buuuuuuuuu is a collective artistic action open to proposals and participation to create new forms of political protest. Buuuuuuuuu was started by:
Pablo Chiereghin (Adria, 1977 – He works with non conventional photography, actions and performance. His research is inspired by daily-life curiosity and by social and political dynamics. His practice is conceived in dialog with the public and plays with the interferences between medium and significance.
Gianmaria Gava (Venice, 1978 – After his studies in political sciences he started working as a freelance photographer for several international magazines. His personal research is expressed in photographic and video projects and reportages around the topics of collective behaviour, social questions and ecological problems. His works reflect on the issues and fractures produced by a solely market driven economy and society.
Aldo Giannotti (Genoa, 1977 – In his performative projects Aldo Giannotti explores the economics of art outside common institutional boundaries and creates new artistic alternatives. Questions around the notions of family structures, socio-political conflicts, religion and relations of power are often the core of his research and practice.

Declining Democracy