Interview with Massimo Cacciari
Hans Ulrich Obrist
Hans Ulrich Obrist: Concerning the future of Europe,
Jacques Delors always used to stress the importance of two
movements at once: elargir et approfondir. How would you see
this statement now?
Massimo Cacciari: The expansion (elargir) continues
to develop – but for irreversible economic and commercial
reasons. The deepening (approfondir) implicates a reflection
(Zurück-kehren) of Europe on itself, a Gegen-schlag, as Nietzsche
said, with respect to the ideology of "progressives" that
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 European history dominated
by the aggression caused by projections to the other, the
colonial history being one of the outcomes of this projection.
Would Europe as a third space help us to go beyond oppositions?
Massimo Cacciari: Unity can only be a unity of different
elements, and the "different" can call themselves that only
if they recognise their "deeper" unity. If this relationship
is forgotten, the unity will be nothing more than universal
homogenisation, violence and an end to the "reductio 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
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
Hans Ulrich Obrist: European society is about to transform
itself 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.
Massimo Cacciari: 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: Paul Virilio told me in a recent
discussion that he sees the city as the last territory (la
dernierre territoire). He talks about tele-ports, airports...
How do you see the importance of cities as dynamic centres
of exchange for the future?
Massimo Cacciari: Yes. Today I believe in fact the
city to be the "territory" that can "give roots" and 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: 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. How do you see the
notion of migration in Europe in 1996?
Massimo Cacciari: Freedom to cross borders has always
been a part of the European spirit. Today, how can we speak
of freedom? Surely not for the great streams of migrants.
I doubt if we can even speak of freedom in terms of the great
tourist floods drawn by the picturesque images of the tour-operators.
Once borders were crossed also by hospites, now, it seems,
only by enemies or esuli (ex-solum: uprooted people). This
interview was made 1996 for the catalogue of Manifesta 1 in
Rotterdam; for the lack of space, it could not be published