Whether you are a tourist visiting Bologna, a citizen of Bologna, or simply a curious person passing by, you cannot miss the upside-down M that appears in the very central Piazza Nettuno next to the access to the underpass. So does the subway exist or has existed in Bologna? And if so, why is the M upside-down?
No, no subway! At least not a real one. Here is the story of these curious signs, now an integral part of the Bolognese urban landscape.
The Ws are a series of illuminated signs bearing the symbol of a white W on a red background, a resemblance to the classic M of the overturned Metro. Commissioned by Xing to Kinkaleri, the Ws were placed in various urban junctions as signs of access to 'underground' places that hosted a series of Live Arts events, during the zero years. Since then, these mimetic works of art have been part of the urban landscape of Bologna, designing the layout of an imaginary underground line that leads from the street level to whoever knows.
The first W was installed in 2007 on the occasion of Wanted, a performative event curated by Kinkaleri within the Galleria Accursio in piazza Maggiore, the second appeared in 2008 with Wasted by mk & guests, in the underpass of via Ugo Bassi; the third sign arrived with Wrestling in 2009 at the Palazzetto dello Sport, an event by Barokthegreat, and yet another sign was placed in 2010 at the Montagnola during Waudeville conceived by Open.
The project found a further expression with a variant of the W created by Cristian Chironi and placed in front of the Esprit Nouveau Pavilion in the Fiera area.
The signs, scattered throughout the city, have become the sign of an underground history, becoming a spatial and visual reference for all those who have them and continue to cross them.
W is a positive and joyful gesture, an expression of independent vitality that saw Bologna in the forefront. They are an ineffable fantasized presence, the expectant hope of meeting up with all those who reach out to inspiration born of serendipity as they move between cultures.
Straddling between situationism, conceptual art and street art, playing on camouflage and establishing a ghostly and light presence, the W acts as a sign that indicates the place of the 'apocalyptic construction of wonder'.