Already in the Nineteenth century the city of Prato excelled in Tuscany thanks to the prosperity of its textiles industry; which prompted the historian Emanuele Repetti to call it Manchester in Tuscany. During World War Second, exposed to the German raids, the workers of Prato turned into resistance fighters. In the Sixties and Seventies, the economic miracle of Italy and the rapid industrial development brought many immigrants from southern Italy in Prato. This eventually led to an increase of urban sprawl and real estate speculation – the so called abusivismo edilizio – and the growth of new urban contexts. In the meantime, Prato’s tatters and regenerated fabric factories became a leader of recycled fabric manufacturing worldwide.
Since 1978, the Reforms and Opening policies in China offered the Chinese people a legal way to migrate abroad. Groups of Chinese people established themselves in Prato since 1990, building a new economic network in the city and bringing their culture into it. Under this point of view, Prato represents a result of Chinese integration into the global economic system: Prato as a “multiethnic textile district” and the center of a turnover in the production paradigm reflects the economic crisis of Europe and the challenge it faces under the wave of globalization.
The Prato Project aims to create a collaborative platform to foster communication between academic studies and the art that is intended to implement also with an interdisciplinary laboratory in the Prato’s context and beyond.
The reasons why we believe it is worthwhile to start and invest in the Prato Project are related to different issues that we perceive to be of fundamental importance - both locally and globally. In particular, migratory movements and refugee politics, cultural integration and the rethinking of the industrial textile core are among the central issues of the context of today's Prato; as a result this territory with “double yarn” is closely linked to the general global changes. We are convinced that in the Prato area there is still a need for a space in the local communities for a "social intervention" and, at the same time, there is a lack on the part of the state organs in keeping up with the academic narratives on the theme of migration and to elaborate policies aimed at better coexistence. We believe that the practice of artistic practice can, in this case, compensate for some of these shortcomings and could produce a new language.
In this sense, WUXU wants to organise the works in the form of a "container" and offer multidisciplinary tools for the purpose of research and cultural practice. The platform is designed to produce different "spaces" during the development of the project. These spaces can be physical: meetings, workshops, field research, exhibitions, public art, etc. But at the same time they can also be virtual spaces: archives, editorial productions, multilingual communication channels, development of online programs, etc.