We have been researching (visiting) the various markets of Bologna to locate the places where we will set up our bread making stalls. There are a few pre-determining criteria that we are working with, some potentially pliable, some not. The area map of the Iceberg festival does not encompass the entire city of Bologna, but rather concentrates on the central area that will attract the greatest visibility (though perhaps not participation) for an art event. This unfortunately eliminates some of the outlying markets that include immigrant communities and maybe many different bread making techniques. Another limitation is that the old traditional markets in the center (the ones that have been around for hundreds of years) have since become permanent, meaning the stalls are now fixed stalls, and there isn’t really room for temporary fixtures. However… we are working on this, and the possibility of somehow setting up in those markets.
Markets that do fit the locational and temporal criteria include the wonderful Mercatino Biologico XM24. This market happens once a week, on Thursday evenings from 6-9 at the XM24 space. XM24 is an occupied building near train station occupying a host of activist initiatives. The market vendors represent what might be called the new homesteaders, young folk that have made intentional decisions to live closer to the land and come in conversation with traditional farming methods. Here you will find a young, healthy mix of alternative and yuppy consumers choosing to shop locally and organically. The vibe at the market is warm and welcoming and information about ingredients and production is often shared during transactions. It’s a wonderful place, but also in some ways an exclusive place. This is not the market that any person would shop at for their general groceries, as it is a once a week occurance with a specialized selection of vendors. It is not so much a practical market as it is an “experience” market. A market one goes to in order to experience the experience of market, both consumers and vendors. It conjures an idea of what a market could have been back in the day when the food you consumed was local and you knew all the vendors because they were your neighbors.
Another market that attemps to create the feeling of “market” is the Mercato della Terra, a venture of the international Slow Food movement. Their stated goal is “to counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world.” One of the ways they go about this is through local markets that take place every few weeks around the world. The vendors at the market all must pass slow food criteria of local, organic and seasonal. In Bologna the market takes place in the courtyard of the Cineteca, a postmodern de Chirico plain. The select location and gourmet choice of vendors give this market a bit of an uppity feel. During our visit it was also quite empty of shoppers. There were always people passing in and out, but never enough of a crowd to give it the hustle and bustle one associates with market. Granted, one factor could have been the unseasonably cold weather. This is a market with great purpose and intentions but perhaps too distant or detached of an approach from the reality of the consumers that would enliven it.
Finally, we visited the principal, historic, sprawling market of La Piazzola. From
Thursday to Saturday each week this market occupies a large chunk of central Bologna with vendors selling colthing, shoes, jewellery, kitchen ware, and other non-alimentary products. On a fair weathered Saturday it often appears that the entire city is out in the market buying something. The market is ideal for encountered a wide range of people and experiences. We still need to work through the no food stipulation at the market, but we are hoping that promoting our stall as an art project will override the fact that dough is being made.