Interview with Massimo Cacciari

Hans-Ulrich Obrist: Concerning the future of Europe, Mr. Delors always used to stress the importance of two movements at once: elargir and approffondir. How would you see this statement now?

Massimo Cacciari: The expansion (elargir) continues to develop - but for (approfondir) irreversibile economic and commercial reasons. The deepening (approfondir) implicates a reflection (zurück - kehre) of Europe on itself, a gegen-schlag, as Nietzsche said, with respect to the ideology of šprogressiveness’ that has characterised it for at least the past centuries. Of this reflection I do not see a trace.

Hans-Ulrich Obrist: In your new book Gewalt und Harmonie/Geophilosophie Europas you elaborate a model of both unity and differences. How do you see the possible role of Europe in the World? Homi K. Bhabha sees the future of Europe in terms of a third space. He sees the European history as dominated by the aggressiveness caused by projections to the other. The colonial history being one of the outcomes of this projection Europe as a space would help us go beyond oppositions?

Massimo Cacciari: Unity can only be a unity of different elements, and the different can call themselves that only if the recognise their šdeeper’ unity. If this relationship is forgotten, the unity will be nothing more than universal homologization, violence and an end to the šreductio ad unum’, or the distinction will be pure animosity, aggression. Can Europe still reflect upon itself as a unity which bears opposition and opposition that bears unity? This is the question we do not know how to answer today.

Hans-Ulrich Obrist: How do you see the importance of art and artistic projects for the construction of the European house? Isn’t the European Community in danger of being driven purely by economic forces without any cultural vision? The horror scenario of multinational companies colonising the world and driving ever increasing wedges between the rich and the poor?

Massimo Cacciari: There is not a single problem concerning the European spirit that has not been also expressed in its artistic manifestation.

Hans-Ulrich Obrist: The European society is about to transform into an information society. The communication and the new forms of networking like the Internet lead to an ever-increasing globalisation. At the same time there are strong forces of decentralisation.

Paul Virilio told me in a recent discussion that he sees the city as the last territory (la derničre territoire). He talks about teleports, airports. How do you see the importance of cities as dynamic centres of exchange for the future?

Massimo Cacciari: Yes. The current process of globalisation inevitably evokes 'earthly’ feelings of nostalgia. These feelings alone will remain quite harmless. The problem does not lie in reacting to the globalisation, but in living the process whatever our differences, bringing to it our own identities and characters… and our own gods.

Hans-Ulrich Obrist: The year 1989 plays a very central role in your new book. The fall of the wall in Berlin has given birth to a much more fluid Europe. There is a new liberty to move, American authors like Bruce Steriling are fascinated by this freedom of young Europe, of all these kids who migrate and travel permanently across boundaries. The city of Prague attracts then thousands of young Americans. The other side of the story is that there are since 1989 more and more involuntary migrants and travellers, economic refugees. How do you see the motion of migration in Europe in 1996?

Massimo Cacciari: Yes. Today I believe in fact the city to be 'territory’ that can ‘give roots’ and together be in relation with the other, to host and be hosted at the same time. European history has mostly been a history of cities, of big cities ‘on the move’, always mobile, always in danger, but always capable of taking care of themselves.

Hans-Ulrich Obrist: In your book Time without Chronos you present the present as a complex of non reducible entities. This is a strong statement for Europe not to forget its present. In the current European situation there is more and more importance given to the future (the year 2000 still being a futuristic issue) and to the past (all over Europe there are tendencies to focus on cultural tradition and the past e.g. there is less and less support for contemporary creation and the main part of the cultural budgets goes into reserving traditions). How do you see this issue?

Massimo Cacciari: Freedom to cross the borders has always been a part of the European spirit. Today, can we speak of 'freedom’? Surely not for the great streams of migrants. I doubt if we can even speak of freedom for the great tourist floods drawn by the picturesque images of the tour - operators. Once, the borders were crossed also by Hospites, now, it seems, only by enemies or esuli (ek-solum. Uprooted people, without ground).

Hans-Ulrich Obrist