Declaration of State of Permanent Happiness

Research and design / Publication / July 2016

Bologna in 1977 was at the crossroads of one of the most significant moments in recent European political history. A heterogenous movement, made of students, the unemployed, migrants and workers arose to demand an alternative vision of society and of the future. In order to achieve this, everything had to be up for discussion. The demonstrators defined themselves as desideranti (meaning active agents of desire), experimental, in every aspect of living – public or private.

This varied group developed their own tactics to challenge the status quo: informed and galvanized by each other. Some founded a pirate radio station, others initiated radical fanzines, musicians began to throw rotten vegetables out into the audience. Some squatted in empty buildings and started art practices within them, all the while, on the streets, demonstrations ensued on a daily basis. A thriving ecosystem of art making, publishing and political action established itself; it seemed to be the beginning of a larger revolution of fashion, politics and life. 

Instead, it was brutally shut down, with repression and fear by the goverment, after March 1977.

The artistic trends and political ideologies growing out of the Movement in Bologna can be interpreted as a premonition of many issues the left, and more broadly, society as a whole, face today. The calling of fringes of the Movement for the liberation from work throught the automatization of production, for example, resonate stronger than ever in our time.

Declaration of State of Permanent Happiness is the first publication in English to focus on the artistic and political scene of those years. With contributions by protagonists and researchers both in Bologna and outside, it paints a picture of something that has been defined alternatively as: one of the last historical vanguards in Europe; the first laboratory of autonomist theory;  an acute precursor to contemporary strategies of citizen journalism and a symbolic moment of division in the history of the modern left.  

The publication here presented is a pilot prototype.
The project is work in progress.