Quo Vadis, Baby? Just Passing
Milan (various locations), November 2016.
Photos courtesy of Carolina Cittone and Valentina Alberti
'Quo Vadis, Baby? Just Passing' is a durational public action responding to the current climate of social violence and oppression targeting minorities of gender, race and class. Staged as a march across various locations in Milan, Italy, the performance walks a fine line between protest, performance of the every day and public intervention. In an attempt to break the homogeneity of the predominantly white, patriarchical and gender-conforming Italian social landscape, 'Quo Vadis, Baby? Just Passing' aims at queering the streets of Milan to challenge the Other-ing gaze that dominates the public space.
This ongoing gazing process entails a very specific kind of looking. It predicates itself as a colonising, self-reaffirming gaze that constantly monitors and censors the body of 'the Other', casting a qualitative difference between the belonging to and the rejected by the dominant group or, indeed, individual.
This almost predator-like look stems from the assumption on the part of the viewer that the viewed (or indeed, consumed) individual is there for the viewer to apprehend, assess and ultimately accept or reject. As a result, the practice of the public, social landscape is regulated by an unbroken chain of microaggressions, that perpetuates fear and hatred whilst contributing to social inequality and conflict.
By reclaiming the public space to perform an intimate, personal gesture (such as the act of getting dressed) as well as by purposedly mixing female and male semiotics through the juxtaposition of seemingly conflicting pieces of clothing, not only does the performer
aim to give visibility to non-conforming (specifically, non-heteronormative) forms of identities, but also, and more crucially, to reverse a power dynamic (that of the scrutinising, 'Other'ing gaze), so deeply entrenched in daily social interactions.