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Envisaging L'Aquila
edited by Alessandro Coppola

Serena Osti – There’s A Crisis!

There’s A Crisis!

On a September day, after having spent some days of complete isolation at the seaside, I came back to my ordinary student life and I was sunddenly acknowledged that the world had changed. It was Autumn 2008 and the financial international crisis had its breakthrough. Since I’m always keen on understanding what’s happening in the world, I chose this event as the topic for my final degree project giving it the title Instructions for the time after now.

The final project, There’s a Crisis, is an alternative analysis of the recent economic crisis the way it was narrated and perceived in Italy in 2008-09. It is intended for making a comparison between the objective truth told by the media and subjective experiences of common people, in an attempt of underlining influences and differences intrinsic to each other.

By doing this, I employed graphics, interviews and pictures in order to represent and reconstruct the intensity of crisis-related news and visualize the different ranges of emotions that such a collectively lived event has brought into people’s life.

The work consists of a set of 3 books (analysis of newspapers, television and people’s impressions), illustrations inspired by mortgage flyers and a tarot set. It also comes with an research publication where theorical, journalistic and literary extracts as well as reference works of graphic designers and artists can be found.

In the book I Giornali I analysed the intensity of the crisis by measuring and exactly repositioning the space of the newspaper article on the front cover. I chose and tracked for 5 months a mainstream moderated newspaper for this, Corriere della Sera. The result is a story of appearance and disappearance, emphasis or minor importance and, most of all, the crisis is regarded here as a financial international problem, there as a political internal issue, or again as a social, wide-spread situation which has already existed in Italy since a couple of years.

People’s reactions to my questions differ a lot from person to person. When asking “What do you think of the crisis?” most of them refer to the financial and international credit-crunch, often reporting what they heard from the media. When, however, asked “Which kind of crisis are we talking about?” they would soon embark on very personal hypotesis and reflections with strong reference to their daily life, some pessimistic and some even optimistic.

The tarots set is a recollection of people, objects and landscapes based on the advertisements of the last page of Corriere della Sera ironically associated to tarot characters. They are products or services which are either suffering under the circumstances of the credit-crunch or gaining an advantage from it. No matter their position, they are still to be found in our daily information update and they are therefore part of it.

We usually disregard advertisiment because it’s visually emphatized and verbally charming – not exactly the kind of objective representation of the world we’re looking for. Though we forget that the same is done with the news – they are just words and pictures. This blurring bewteen fiction and non-fiction is the core problem in understanding our perception of reality. An essential reading on the topic is Aesthetic Journalism – How to inform without informing by Alfredo Cramerotti which has been recently published by Intellect in 2010.

There’s a Crisis is meant to be a consultation tool for further investigations which aims to approach the analysis of the present from the perspective of visual data instead of words or numbers. Furthermore, it questions the role of contemporary media and their responsability in shaping the public discourse and determining individual choices with particular regard to the Italian media landscape.

This final degree project has been supervised by art curator Emanuela De Cecco and graphic designer Christian Upmeier at the Free University of Bolzano-Bozen in March 2009 and subsequently displayed at Design Crisis during the Milan furniture fair. I personally wish to develop further and publish this project in the nearest future. I’m constantly researching on the issues of power, media and aesthetics with particular regard to Italy and I’m on the look for discussions and collaborative projects. I’m now based in Brighton, United Kingdom, where I’m working for mixed-media artists Heather and Ivan Morison and hope to soon start an MA in Art and Politics at the Goldsmiths College, London.

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Further documentation: http://www.serenaosti.com/

C’è crisi Project: http://www.serenaosti.com/indexhibit/ce-crisi/

Dissertation: http://www.serenaosti.com/images/documentazione_web.pdf

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