Transcultural Urban Re-Imaginings

Ephemeral and Participatory Art Interventions in the Macrolotto Zero Neighborhood

  • Matteo Dutto
  • Andrea Del Bono
Keywords: public art, Prato (Italy), Chinatown, transcultural place-making, urban multiculturalism, urban culture(s)

Abstract

The city of Prato is arguably one of the most widely studied multicultural urban contexts in Italy. Yet, in the analysis of the dynamics that enable this conceptualization of the city as a space of cultural complexity little attention has been paid to the way in which localized processes of transculturation have changed both the visual landscape of Prato, and how it is imagined and understood by the different people that call it home. This paper focuses on Macrolotto Zero, one of the city’s most multicultural neighborhoods particularly marked by decades of Chinese diasporic movements. It explores how processes of exchange/conflict between local and migrant residents, artistic collectives, activists and policy-makers have profoundly changed the way in which the neighborhood is imagined and conceptualized at a local, national and transnational level. Drawing from fieldwork, interviews with local artists and historical research on the neighborhood’s visual and aural changes, this paper argues that this historical industrial area of Prato has been undergoing an extensive process of re-imagining. This process has been driven by bottom-up participatory art interventions and by residents which have repositioned the neighborhood as a creative and innovative space of experimentation that testifies to intricate cross-cultural entanglements.