20 April 2008

The flat people

I noticed there are some strange people in Campo Santa Margherita this weekend. Forty or more of them. True, their clothes are a little unusual, and their faces have an exotic look. But the very first thing you notice about them is… they’re flat! Colorful, life-size, real-people paper dolls. The kids in the campo respond to them like big toys, but they have an important message to relate to the adult passers-by.

They are part of an installation and related media events called Persone: Africa, Società Civile, Cambiamento, intended to promote the efforts of a number of organizations (under the umbrella of CISPI) which seek a change in the way the world (Italy in particular) responds to Africa’s social and economic struggles (much like Africa Works, to which Italian Vanity Fair dedicated its cover story in February). They encourage training services and the extension of micro-loans, rather than charity, to assist African people into profitable work with sustainable resources and, thus, self-sufficiency. A worthy cause, publicized in a clever, accessible, “human-scale” way.

I like the fact that this exhibition started in Venice, which has always been a crossroads of the world, always willing to assimilate and integrate other cultures. These flat people will stick around here for a while, then they’ll move on to a dozen other Italian cities in the coming months. Buona Fortuna to their real life selves! Bravo to their supporters!