A platform in the classical Roman style on which a strange auction sale is taking place: a barbarian merchant is selling (off) a half-nude dancing girl and a muscular slave, as well as an astrophysicist and a plumber, very topical figures. A woman on a stage, dressed only in employment contracts, is literally stripped bare: though excluded from the labour market, she does not renounce her dignity as a woman.
"Precarillon (The music box of temporary employment)", "The Jobs Merchant" and "Cont(r)act" are just three of the performance acts conceived by the informal INCA,CH group. At one of its meetings, the International Network for Culture and Art (INCA) invited its partners to work, at local level, on the issue of youth employment, concentrating in particular on the problems associated with temporary employment and unemployment. INCA CH, an association founded in October 2010, brings together art professionals, educators, activity organizers and young artists and uses animation, drama, photography and multimedia to further its work. They believe in art as an instrument of individual and collective expression, an effective way of investigating topical problems and issues. They collaborated in this initiative with I LAVORATTORI, a project for young people aged 18 to 30, funded by the European Community's Youth in Action programme in partnership with the Swiss ch Foundation for federal co-operation. They made a special effort to involve disadvantaged youngsters or people at risk of social exclusion.
A dozen or so people took part in the meetings, which were held between April and December 2011 in Zurich, Lugano, Locarno, Bellinzona and Pregassona. The discussions were initiated by the participants themselves, supported by trainers, in an atmosphere favourable to sharing, experimentation and the development of new skills and abilities. Through drama, in the form of improvisation, dance and street theatre, they then tried to give expression to the various ideas that had emerged, and share them with the audience. "Precarillon" was staged at the Paravento Theatre in Locarno, during the Film Festival, while "The Jobs Merchant" was presented in Bellinzona, to coincide with the 2011 Ti Street Art event. Some very short filmed sequences were presented at the TRA Bar in Lugano and at a meeting of Tikinò (the Ticino video-makers association). "Cont(r)act" was also entered for the Corto Helvetico al Femminile, an international short-film festival. I LAVORATTORI then participated in the DO YOUth WORK? project, at another INCA meeting. Videos of these performances can be viewed on the Vimeo network on YouTube and on the INCA CH website (and on the organization's Facebook page).
The project was developed with the aim of raising young people's awareness of an issue of international interest, encouraging them to play a more conscious role in social life, and fostering an understanding of the importance of active citizenship. The discussions of the difficult employment situation were an opportunity for personal growth, and also for building relationships with other work groups, facilitating the participants' social and cultural integration. A valid alternative way of occupying young people during their leisure time, developing creativity and educating them in matters of diversity, solidarity and multiculturalism.