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Interventions et discussions

Fermer les « Campi Nomadi » d’Italie  et d’Europe

Francesco Careri and Lorenzo Romito


Since 2007, Stalker/Osservatorio Nomade, a network of artists and researchers, in collaboration with the Urban Studies department at the Università di Roma TRE, has undertaken a research project on Romani communities in Rome through field investigations, university courses, and civic art actions. Romanis are regarded, more than any other community, as “the Other”, and make up the largest homeless, stateless population in Europe (approximately 15 million people). They are severely discriminated against in Italy through the “Campi Nomadi,” now referred to as “solidarity villages” - police-patrolled, segregated areas to which the Romains are confined and in which their legal rights are suspended. This study, entitled “Nomadism and the City: Living on the Edge; Nomad Camps and Temporary Shelters Seen through Practices and Experiments in Public Art,” began with an exploratory walk along the banks of the river, where participants encountered more than fifty shantytowns (Sui letti del fiume, 2007). It continued with a travelling, international seminar in the form of nine camping cars visiting various habitats. These habitats included temporary settlements from past generations, with containers, barbed wire and 24-hour surveillance cameras; authorized sites that have developed spontaneously; abusive shantytowns (Campus Rom, 2008); and, finally, an experimental project integrating several ethnic communities on an open building site at the Campo Rom Casilino 900, a building cooperative that worked to erect an actual wooden house (Savorengo Ker – the house for everyone, 2008), which burned down in December 2008. See:

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1Lorenzo Romito :Francesco Careri and I will try to contribute to this colloquium by trying to make some notes aside of our work in the last two years with the Roma community in the city of Rome, commonly named as gipsy. To do this, trying to respond to the frame we are called in, which is called “observation and context” we would like to have with us our usual participants-observers. We have three of them here : Celesti Nicoletti, Biancha Iaccherino, and Francesco’s brother Giovanni Careri. This will help us. We are very much concerned on how we deal, and how we get observed while we do. So, I would like to multiply the levels of observation here. You are free to interrupt at any minute our discussion. But then we will have to focus our story. Our story is a long story. It’s more than 15 years that we are working together. What we are facing tonight is a complex issue. Two years were coexisting, two modes of sharing experience, and activating work together in the Roma community in the city of Rome. We think this a major issue, because it is the biggest discrimination issue in Europe which is unknown by European citizens and their rich level of segregation in Italy in the last years. And what you are seeing now is part of an eviction of a part of a gipsy camping ground, called “caselina nove cento”. This eviction has been part of an electoral propaganda of one candidate to the mayor, from the left party, with the purpose to augment his possibilities to win the election. And took the chance to, by saying that the street into the camp was not large enough for firemen to enter, demolishing 14 houses without any announcement to the inhabitants. We were there filming this. We started this work because an other mayor from the left (now we don’t have the left mayors anymore, and this is more proper to the time, I think) made an agreement with the national government; it’s called the “pact of security” which included that all the gipsy living in the city of Rome had to get removed out of the highway belt around the city. So this was our urgency which usually teased the start up of our activities; the feeling that we have to do something. We don’t want to turn this into a political situation, but I think this can help us discussion the issue of … we are not “anthropologist”, we really don’t think we can be called “artists”.. I think, politics has a lot to do… I think our main concern in this moment is: “how to activate, how to instigate or better move forward a social change, an awareness that could allow us to understand what reality is all about”.

2We picked 13 minutes of images from the movies of two anthropologists and video-makers that have actually been producing some of the work we have been trying to instigate this time.

3Francesco Careri : Qu’est ce qu’on sait faire, nous ? Moi je suis architecte de formation et on se trouve dans des situations on n’a pas les moyens pour expliquer ce qui se passe ; c'est-à-dire on n’est pas des experts des gitans, des rom, on n’est pas des anthropologues, et on n’est pas là en tant qu’architectes, même si on essaie de donner des idées. Ce qu’on essaie de faire, c’est d’amener des gens, être des « passeurs », des « stalker ». On amène des étudiants, des anthropologues, des journalistes, on essaie de changer le point de vue des gens. Faire éclater des situations. Ce qu’on voit, c’est la réponse à la destruction des maisons, parce qu’à la fin, après tout ça, on s’est mis avec ces gens pour comprendre comment ils veulent habiter. Quelle est leur idée de maison ? Où est-ce qu’ils voudraient habiter ?

4Là on est au Caselino Novecento, c’est l’un des plus anciens camps de Rome. C'est-à-dire que les premiers gitans sont arrivés ici en 1967, donc cela fait plus de 40 ans qu’ils sont là. Ils ont pris la place des Italiens qui venaient de Sicile, de Sardaigne, du sud de l’Italie, qui habitaient dans des baraques. Et là c’est devenu le camp le plus important en Italie. C’est le lieu le plus médiatique qu’on a en Italie. Il y a plusieurs types de campements, il y a des baraques sous les ponts, le long du fleuve, des routes qui sont des baraques faite de manière très faible. Et là on est dans un camp historique où il y a des vraies maisons, soit des baraques, soit des maisons qui font 80 m² où il fait chaud, faites par des espèces d’architectes de camp.

5On a essayé de comprendre combien ça coûte d’habiter comme ça, combien de temps il faut pour faire une maison, qui est-ce qui fait les maisons. Ça c’est la partie disons architecturale, après ce qu’on a compris, c’est que ce sont des gens que l’on veut laisser dans l’illégalité. Même s’ils sont là depuis 40 ans, même si c’est la troisième génération qui est née dans ce camp, ils n’ont toujours pas de papier, ni de citoyenneté italienne.Ils ont des actes de naissance et ils vont à l’école, mais une fois qu’ils ont 18 ans ils deviennent des clandestins. On peut donc les rapatrier dans leur pays qui est l’un des quatre pays de l’ex- Yougoslavie dont ils ne parlent plus la langue. Et ça c’est une chose qui se passe chaque jour !

6Lorenzo Romito: This is an attitude. As a “stalker” we move after urgency. We move when we feel there is a gap between what is visible and what there is in reality. So we felt a very big gap in the perception, and in the general criminalisation of this people. But then we also move with an idea of transforming reality. I don’t know if this is the idea of an anthropologist, of an artist or of a politician. We try to transform this reality and when we are not able to transform the reality our first reaction is to transform ourselves. So this “becoming other” of “stalker”. I think it is another important element to focus on because we believe that the point is not to make these people capable to live in our society, but make our society capable to live together with other people. In Italy when you are a gipsy you are forced to live in a camp. Getting out of a camp is hard and if you get out of a camp it means that you are not considered as a Roma anymore.

7Public :Je trouve très impressionnant que vous disiez que vous ayez un rôle à jouer en tant qu’artiste, du fait que le problème ne soit même plus un problème politique mais symbolique. Il y a donc un rôle d’artiste à jouer pour changer les mentalités. Est-ce que les Rom vous perçoivent en tant qu’artistes, ou est-ce qu’ils vous perçoivent en tant que militants, politiques ou encore comme autre chose ?

8Lorenzo Romito: “Stalker” is like a boat crossing the discrimination sea in Italy. There is this idea of becoming other. Francesco tries to deal with its double identity with the university. So we have always to rock the boat. Cooperation between Rome and university was fundamental to do this. We need the support of this institution.All this has to do with the idea of “Stalker”. Should “Stalker” become a school whose role is to give ideas on how to make formation, education on reality processes, or should “Stalker” become a nomadic group that has to leave its homeland because the condition have changed?

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Electronic reference

Francesco Careri and Lorenzo Romito, “Fermer les « Campi Nomadi » d’Italie  et d’Europe”Les actes de colloques du musée du quai Branly Jacques Chirac [Online], 2 | 2009, Online since 30 November 2009, connection on 28 September 2021. URL:; DOI:

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About the authors

Francesco Careri

Università di Roma TRE - Stalker / Osservatorio Nomade

Lorenzo Romito

Università di Roma TRE - Stalker / Osservatorio Nomade

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