Le festival est mort, vive le festival!

CHEAP was launched in 2012. During an earthquake. But not even that was enough to discourage us.

During the first few months, as we gave the project a name and associated form, we (often) found ourselves responding to a question that was (often) posed by interlocutors who made no effort whatsoever to hide their perplexity – in what sense “paper”?

For 5 years CHEAP has worked with paper, flirted with the ephemeral, brought together fabulous singularities and associative initiatives in artistic research inspired by and engaging with the local area; it has solicited contemporary narratives on the urban landscape and contributed to discourses about public space.

In so doing, we have made enough mistakes to be able to state with a measure of confidence that we have actually learned something.

CHEAP has done all this through a festival format: starting from local neighborhoods, inviting artists to come create site-specific interventions, launching a call for artists and setting them loose in the streets, in self-managed spaces, in a network of places dedicated to independence.

After 5 years of festival, we feel it safe to say that this format works.

And now that we can say it works, we can also call it done.

Let’s perform a nice harakiri, burn the formula, scatter the sand of the mandala: le festival est mort, vive le festival.

On one hand, this seems the most natural choice given CHEAP’s identity, so deeply caught up with impermanence: if (fortunately enough) nothing lasts forever, a festival is certainly not going to be the exception.

On the other, there is no denying that many of the variables in the context have changed: more and more often, a piece is considered street art rather than not vandalism (!)if (and only if) it is created with permit in hand and associated with some amazing redevelopment project; we see more and more flowers drawn on the walls at the expense of efforts to go beyond the wall; finally, there have been a disturbing number of attempts to normalize this project, even though it makes sense if (and only if) it is recognized as aberrant.

And then there is also our shared restlessness that drives us to look for something else, to try out new things, to want to avoid any acts that (set out to) repeat again and again, forever.

That said, we do not exclude anything. Indeed, we claim everything – misery and splendor, successful encounters, clashes, misunderstandings, errors, love at first sight, every degree of glue thickness you can image, other mistakes, partnerships, drunkenness, unfulfilled promises, walls to be forgotten and walls that still move us to tears.

And in claiming this everything, we are drawn to thank everyone who has traveled this path with us and gotten their hands dirty.

We have said that the festival is dead. From here, CHEAP sets out to be more fluid, more situationist, appearing without prior notice, taking all the time it needs, choosing not to take itself for granted, stepping outside its comfort zone.

Above all, trying to keep its distance from the disfiguring trap of decorum, the rhetoric of urban regeneration and the concrete impulses of this normalization.

Too many people prick up their ears at the sound of hooves, expecting horses to arrive. We will end up incapable of imagining anything but horses. What about zebras? Who imagines zebras? Well, dedicating ourselves to the unlikely seems to be the most sensible move so, as of today, CHEAP is in charge of zebras.