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Youth in the City: Nuovi Sguardi su Prato

A pop-up exhibition to discover Prato through the eyes of 48 young urban explorers.

On 5 October 2019 forty-eight students from eight different high-schools of Prato reclaimed their city and presented their unique perspectives on it, exhibiting in the Officina Giovani space the works they created over a five-days’ creative workshop on their relationship with the city and with the different cultures and languages that traverse it.

The workshops, led by tutors Matteo Dutto, Oriana Persico, Francesco Ricatti, Salvatore Iaconesi and Luca Simeone, were part of Youth in the City, a research project run by Monash University, Aalborg University and Human Ecosystems Relazioni with funding from the National Geographic Society (NGS-56467E-19) and the Scanlon Foundation and with the patronage of Prato’s City Council.

Over the space of five days participants shared with each other the way they interact with the city, exploring it through their own experiences, their senses and emotions and reflecting on their encounters with the multicultural aspect that make Prato unique. These young urban explorers then shared their own perspective with the other inhabitants of Prato by designing, organizing and running a free pop-up exhibition that showcased their photos, videos, soundscapes, artistic interventions and digital guided tours. As they explain: “With this work we wanted to take back Prato, not just in a physical sense, but in a moral sense, through our own perspectives and imagination”.

The exhibition was introduced to the guests by a group of students with a performative art intervention. Dr. Francesco Ricatti from Monash University then introduced the project, stressing how important is for young people to be able to change the prevalente narratives about Prato. He also emphasised the importance of recognising the creativity and productivity that is typical of multicultural urban environments like Prato. Monash Prato Centre manager Cathy Crupi also spoke at the event, inviting students meet their Australian peers at our local engagement initiatives and tell the story of Prato through their eyes and experiences. Prato’s mayor Matteo Biffoni concluded the launch by thanking all students involved and highlighting the key role they play in imagining the future of the city.

The Youth in the City research team is now working to create the open access digital map of Prato that will collect and make available to a larger public the works produced by the students, with the objective of making visible to a wider international audience their unique perspectives on the rich multicultural heritage of Prato and the encounters and exchanges between different cultures that make the city alive.