ludoteca alice metropoliz
Ludoteca at Metropoliz. Credit: MAAM Facebook page.

Metropoliz, an occupied building at Via Prenestina 913, is home to nearly 200 residents. They come from Rome, the Roma community, Eastern Europe, Africa, South America, and beyond. Their dwelling, the defunct Fiorucci salami factory in Rome’s eastern periphery, is part residential complex, part urban archeology, part contemporary art museum.

Metropoliz landed firmly on the city’s cultural radar in 2011 with the installation Space Metropoliz. Curated by Giorgio de Finis, the work, a space shuttle made from salvaged materials, was a metaphor for the liminal nature of the site and the very assistants who helped build it.

Indeed, Rome has a tense relationship with its immigrant and Roma populations. Racially charged terminology and slurs are fairly diffused in colloquial speech. The “othering” of non-Romans is commonplace. And there is a particularly harsh prejudice reserved for Roma people. Metropoliz is a unique place for many reasons, but it is perhaps the only example we have in the Italian capital of Roma cohabitating with other communities.

And there is harmony there. This fact, as well as Finis’ work, have brought attention to Metropoliz. Over the past year, the compound has been enriched with artworks donated by the city’s artists, particularly street artists. The initiative, dubbed the “Pinacoteca Domestica Diffusa” was followed by the founding of the “Museo dell’Altro e dell’Altrove” (the Museum of the Other and That Which Lies Beyond). It has hosted exhibitions and art markets, which have raised money to benefit the residents of the site. The proceeds have gone to fixing leaky rooves and funding the Ludoteca (Game Room), which will be inaugurated today, the Epiphany.

The rooms of the Ludoteca, which are dedicated to the children of Metropoliz, were painted by Veronica Montanino and Alice Pasquini. Montanino works mainly in acrylic, PVC, and plexiglass. Her shapes are inspired by nature and geometry; her pigments are eye catching and charged with energy. Her work at Metropoliz is symbolic. A green blob scrawled across the walls and floor symbolize virulence, but in the sense that art has the power to infect the viewer and change her or him. Montanino’s forms in the Ludoteca echo the style of Montanino’s work at Metropoliz in November when she painted the faces of bodies of its young residents with similar motifs.

mutatis mutandis montanino
Credit: MAAM Facebook page.

Alice’s contribution is a painted mural–you may recognize her florescent-infused style from her pieces in Testaccio, Monti, Pigneto, and Quadraro.

Like all the artistic events at Metropoliz, these works have been donated by the artists. The MAAM is a non-for profit project dedicated to creating and exhibiting communal and collaborative art. Its aim is to create a new relationship between art life, to slough off the formality of institutionalized art display, and, above all, to shroud Metropoliz in a defensive armor which they hope will protect its residents from the ever-looming threat of forced eviction.

To keep up on MAAM exhibitions and events, follow them on Facebook. Visitors are welcome at Metropoliz, but please visit in reasonable hours and be respectful of the people who reside there. The Ludoteca will be inaugurated at 11am and is open to all.