Hurray! The openings season is back! That is, to me. See, when I was living in Milan it was just my weekly routine to be invited as a journalist to these things pompously known as “events”, that I’d rather label so-called-events. From art galleries to socks collections, from ridiculous designer’s clothing to the launch of an industrial biscuit’s new flavor, it was a non-stop series of RSVPs and SAVE THE DATEs to a range of variously boring presentations ending with rich buffets and glasses of bubbly. Gathering the press materials was just the excuse for attending a quick and hysterical feast among fellow journalists before going back to each others’ offices. This whole non-stop, 60-minute party thing culminated in april’s Milan Design Week, an actual marathon of parties (from the aperitivo to late night, with having to be back to the office the morning after) from one corner of the city to its opposite, accumulating free gadgets and free catering like happy-go-lucky magpies.
Then I moved back to Bologna and this whole dine-and-drink-and-collect-and-do way to work seemed to be non existent here. It was fine to me: after several years of that same lifestyle I was actually fed up (even slightly nauseated) with that scene anyway. I found it refreshing here, thought my hometown was really a place of substance VS image. I was wrong. Yes, there are less so-called-events in Bologna but they do take place here too. And as it happens everywhere, they’re often the only way to get to know in “media-time” (i.e. before the regular public hears about it) about new places debuting, projects being made and exhibitions openings. Only problem: I wasn’t invited. Never ever.
After ten years working in the media scene of Milan, I genuinely thought that Bologna’s journalistic milieu would welcome me with open arms, perhaps some benevolent curiosity. Halas I was wrong. This is a small city and who you are friends with (i.e. who can guarantee your level of coolness in Tortellino Coins of Merit and Value) often counts more than your skills. So I became a paria. I kept working as a freelancer for national outlets but not a single local magazine, website, radio or newspaper considered me worthy an interview or even a reply to my cv-enclosing email. Or even a glance. Same story with press offices. Once I repeatedly asked for the accreditation to the media previews of some upcoming movies (I’ve been writing about cinema for the past 13 years) but was refused because I am not “A Bolognaise influencer”, whatever that means. And of course I received no invitations whatsoever from the local so-called-events (while continuing to receive plenty from Milan’s press offices: thank you Milan).
So I started looking for urban news and trends by myself. And, what was more intriguing, for myself. In fact, since I didn’t have to write for local papers, I wasn’t compelled to know about local events. Yet I had the freedom to do it. And to do it with my pace, my timing, and for the sole purpose of satisfying my own curiosity (and the occasional foreign friend’s). I became a flaneur. Or a flaneuse. Which is what I’ve always been, I suppose. Working from home gives me little money but also the wonderful freedom to take a pause whenever I want and take a walk. And even if nobody pays me for observing with endless curiosity what goes around ’round here, I do it with passion. And this passion eventually asked to be translated into the written word. And became this blog.
Thanks to this very blog, I became visible, despite not being an influencer (yet). I became “locally existent”, too. It took me four years to have my existence (and job) actually acknowledged here in Bologna the red,the fat, the learned and the suspicious, but I made it. And, I’ve started to receive invitations for local so-called-events here, too. So this morning I finally went to the opening of an art exhibition whose description this long story was supposed to be the introduction to. Instead, this became a post on how I became a flaneur. So I’ll write about the exhibition tomorrow or in the next days. Because I don’t have to be local-media-time-calibrated, luckily. But I finally do have access to the occasional free canapé and exhibition preview. Hurray!