Hard City (2023) in a mysterious and cryptical way, appeared initially on social networks during the starting of ART CITY 2023, cultural art week happening in Bologna every fabruary. With a quick and sharp concept, a group of young Italian artists based in Bologna have created a machine-exhibition-sculpture-happening that seeks in some way to subvert the dynamics on which the organization of the artistic event is based and at the same time create independent alternatives that favor free expression and non-hierarchization of art.

The number group of artists (composed of Marta Bartalini, Martina Pozzobon, Giacomo Mallardo, Gabriele Ermini, Tobia Faiman, Jacopo Casamenti, Federico Grilli, Luca Poncetta, Giulia Querin, Inactual Magazine, Rachele Tinkham, Letizia Lucchetti, Alice Santini, Alessandro Sacchet, Federico Falanga, Giulio dal Molin, Luca Campestri, Alessia Cincotto, Samuele Bartolini, Francesco Bendini) on the occasion of Hard City besiege a vending machine for snacks and cigarettes in the historic center of the city of Bologna. This simple action transforms the windows of this 24/7 accessible service into a collective exhibition in which the voices of young artists manifest themselves as satire and at the same time as an urgency to relocate roles.

Looking out at the vending machine, it is possible to select no longer a snack or a drink but rather the small works that the artists conceive for this site-specific intervention: art affordable for a bunch of coins. It is possibile to find micro-sculptures with pop aesthetics, music cassettes, small metal frames, artist toothpicks and more. In the choice of these small artefacts there is also a strong ironic accent in which the tradition of ready-mades and contemporary trends meet the aesthetics that characterize the snack dispensers: thus a subtle and amusing game of references is born which, in addition to arousing laughter, triggers a series of thoughts on the ease of commodification of art and the dynamics that influence artistic thought and creation. Hard City refers to a stance in which it is the artist who puts his own rules into play and who makes his art a true interdisciplinary and democratic method of communication: there is no need for a gallery, not a program or even of a place. What matters is the vital drive that underlies any type of infrastructure and that makes an interruption in the daily flow possible.

After inserting the indicated amount, the metal spring starts to twist and turn, the work falls, the hand opens the door ready to welcome these pop and kitsch artifacts. Hard City by animating a banal vending machine reminds us, with freshness and audacity, where the value of artistic expression lies without the fear of escaping traditional connotations and with the interest of invading public places, the passer-by and the worker.


Hard city, 2023
Happening and collective show, cigarette machine, Bologna © Photo: Luca Campestri



Hard City, 2023 Installation view, Bologna © Photo: Luca Campestri

Hard City, 2023 Installation view, Bologna © Photo: Luca Campestri