A dollar for your thoughts

Editorial Staff
April 12, 2012

Along two streets of Florence, via Panicale and via Palazzuolo, efforts are underway to turn around long years of urban blight and reclaim quality of life. 


A conceptual art installation recently drew attention to via Panicale, one of the historic centre's most problematic streets. Local street artist Vaclav Pisvejc (see TF 149) installed an artwork on one of the walls of the now-abandoned former convent of Sant'Orsola, also home to squatters in the past. Through his work, Pisvejc said, he hopes to draw attention to the San Lorenzo neighbourhood, and particularly via Panicale and the Sant'Orsola complex, an area with a dense immigrant population, marked by blight and often violence: ‘It's a place that Florentines avoid now.'


Pisvejc believes that art is a language that can overcome cultural and religious barriers and can connect people of different cultures who might not necessarily go see art in museum settings. After fixing hundreds of dollar bills to the wall, he spray-painted across them, in French, ‘Capitalism is not possible.' As Pisvejc explained, the installation alludes to the failure of the capitalism, through the creation of a ‘mirage of dollar bills that push passersby to enter the space and become part of the installation itself.' He notes that the street's residents became involved in his installation, and he believes that they understood the message and that it drew their attention to each other and the space they share in via Panicale.


Meanwhile, the residents, artisans and merchants in via Palazzuolo, have teamed up to bring a bright splash of sunshine to their street. Yellow balloons, t-shirts, ribbons and signs reading Via Palazzuolo, più pulita e più bella (‘Via Palazzuolo, cleaner is more beautiful') now adorn the area, placed in residential and shop windows, affixed to balconies. The initiative is not just ‘window-dressing,' however: those who live and work in the area are working towards cleaner, safer streets. They have asked residents for more cleanliness, and city officials for increased police presence and assistance.

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