For May Day: C.S.O.A. Forte Prenestino in Rome

From a friend of Autonomies …

To celebrate the first of May inside a fort, a real historical fort with all the massive walls, heavy, imposing. To remember that there was once an attempt, here, on this piece of land, to secure, to defend, to fight. To be impressed by the size and the shape of this man-made creature, man-made and monstrous, with numerous dark tunnel-snakes wriggling through it, emerging with their heads into small courtyards and then unfold into larger open spaces, two on each side. To stand in the middle of these large courtyards, to look around at the massive walls and to look above at the sky that appears flat and vast, weighing down upon the fort but may be also taking you above it, beyond it. A fort that would protect you and imprison you for as large as it is, as beautifully monstrous as it is, the sky remains flat, tightly pressing down its walls.

The name for this fort is Forte Prenestino, and it is located, it lives in Rome. Years ago, many years ago, more than 30, it was conquered. Conquered by what one could call people, people who live in the city of Rome. By the time it was conquered it was already a soldier on pension, out of use, that is, abandoned, as so many buildings can be in this so beautifully monstrous city. And as the snakes change their skin so did the fort. For more than thirty years this fort was and still is autogestito, that is, self-organised. The tunnels and the walls are by now covered with paintings of all the possible bestiaries on earth, brief writings follow to express the mind, the spirit of this space. The fort changed its skin, but quite radically so, it became utterly porous, it stripped itself completely off its weapons exposing itself to the world in its complete nudity.  This is a fort that committed suicide. It is open to all, it welcomes everyone, it is anti-prohibitionist, it is feminist and queer, it has space for all ages, spaces to relax, to create, it has even a reggae forest… And on the first of May it celebrates the day of non-labour (understood as autogestione).

Going to Forte Prenestino on the first of May and seeing thousands and thousands of people who came here on that day is to ask the question ‘why are they all here?’; may be, for some, to defend this space as open to all, for others, to make some living by selling things, or to practice self-organising and the running of the fort, or simply to stay together, to eat, to have fun, and to dance. To see oceans of people dancing below and above, climbing up and down the hills flanking the sides of the fort is to also think ‘the people have conquered the fort’. The reasons why these people were here might be many, but the atmosphere was, even though over-crowded, friendly and relaxed, and it’s not what one finds today in the streets of Rome. A city can put people against each other, to fight in daily little wars, or it can bring them together, to talk, to be free and to make love. To enter into the mouth of the fort-dragon is to breath the fire of freedom and to write about it, even if in an idealized form as much of this writing follows from impressions of one singular day, the first of May.

Below is the translation of the history of Forte Prenestino from their website, followed by the text written for the first of May. 

C.S.O.A. Forte Prenestino: Who are we

Forte Prenestino is a social center, occupied and self-managed since 1986…

it is a social center, a space for communing, meeting, having fun and organising collective time,

a space for exchanging ideas, visions, energies and knowledge,

it is occupied, it was left to decay, it was reopened, inhabited, crossed through and lived, without any authorisation that might have arrived, without political servility and legal recognitions.

an illegal place, by choice and necessity.

it is self-managed, it experiments with the self-organising of one’s own space and one’s own activities based on the free association of individuals united through shared projects and ethics.

It is for this reason that the Forte experiments with non-work and self-managed forms of life: it makes its decisions based on the assemblies, in horizontal manner, tries to give to each occupier equal power of decision,

regardless of different visions, the hyperactivism of some and the contemplative spirit of others, the inclinations, loves and dislikes, friendships and bad moods that are always born once people are together.

Whoever shares the projects and the ethical code of Forte Prenestino can participate in its activities.

To experiment and to be creative the Fort needs money.

As it is not financed by any institution, it is self-financed.

The contribution that is requested at the entrance during cultural and musical activities serves to pay for daily, political, cultural, social activities and all those campaigns and mobilisations to which CSOA adheres;

the contribution and the cost of all the activities promoted inside the Fort has a political price and is accessible, it is decided in an assembly and contributes to sustaining life in the social center.

The fort experiments with another social life and another economy as it is made of a human reality that is immense and varied, made of individuals, associations, peoples, bands, and whoever struggles every day so that another world is possible,

a world made of individuals that are free, equal and live in solidarity.

For this reason the Fort is anti-fascist, anti-sexist, anti-racist, anti-prohibitionist,

for this reason it will remain always a bit uncomfortable, unbalanced,

as the one who is too comfortable falls asleep, and we, building a dream, prefer to always keep eyes open.

… the 1st of May

31 Years of occupation and self-management, 35th celebration of NON work.

And we are still here… after 31 years…

To take forward this wonderful project, to meet, to invite you to come and celebrate with us!

We are an experimental collective who through participation and active practice have developed the intelligence necessary not to be overwhelmed by the market, to transform work into something else and to offer ways of life and existence that free time and overturn the hegemonic logic of profit.

The NON work that we practice daily is self-management.

We made spaces usable, organized courses, labs and workshops, feeding into the possibility of exchanging experience and knowledge, we made culture and sport accessible giving space to initiatives and passions.

We put in practice disruptive acts for radical transformation of the existent, experimenting new forms of relations, rendering ourselves permeable, favoring creativity, carrying solidarity, supporting struggles.

The Fort is feminist, in a world where, east to west, north to south, the supremacy of the heterosexual male imposes himself on all the other genders, where the father is still the master and where the violence in the streets and in the houses is still tolerated and justified.

The Fort is queer and transgender, in a world where hatred, violence against gender and discrimination against LGBTQIA persons are daily reality.

The Fort is migrant, it is a territory but it has no borders, it doesn’t recognize borders and it is next to those who are forced to cross them illegally, escaping death, poverty, absence of rights, paying with their own skin for the wars that are not theirs.

The only response to terrorism that we recognize is the end of military aggressions, of bombardments, of economic colonialism. The neotraditionalims that penetrated Europe and North America and Middle East, we confront them disarmed, but strong in our choice of being mestizo, feminist, self-determined, and mutually supportive.

We are antifascist, antisexist, antiprohibitionist, queer, we firmly believe in another possible way of relating to the environment that hosts us, we are stubborn dreamers of our world with zero borders.

…. During the day, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. guided visits to the Fort, lunch, dinner, sweets, video, laughter, kisses, performance, concerts, unexpected crossings and much more. 12 hours of time liberated according to our desires.

Bring that which you wish to find in those around you and in the social centre… Self-management!!!

C.S.O.A. Forte Prenestino

Video …


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