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Resisting the Tourist Gaze. Art Activism Against Cruise Ship Extractivism in the Venice Lagoon

Emiliano Guaraldo    Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, Italia    



The essay situates Venice’s struggles against the cruise ship industry within a larger framework of resistance against planetary extractive capitalism, emphasising the role of local art-activist initiatives in denouncing the social and the ecological degradation caused by the cruise ship presence in Venice. In the first part, the concept of extractive tourism is introduced and analysed in relation to the case of Venice and the cruise companies’ economic model. The operations and infrastructure of cruise tourism produce extractive relations that entangle and exploit tourists, local communities and the natural environment. The Author examines how mass tourism has aggravated the environmental and social issues of the city of Venice and its lagoon. In the second part, the essay presents a number of artistic projects, specifically by visual artists Eleonora Sovrani, Gli Impresari, Banksy, and Elena Mazzi. These artworks can help us visualise the failures of the current urban development model of the tourist economy, while also exposing the nefarious effects of extractive capitalism on the well-being of the lagoon ecosystem and the human and non-human subjects cohabiting in it.

Dec. 20, 2021
Dec. 9, 2021
Sept. 27, 2021

Keywords: Cruise shipsEnvironmental justiceExtractive tourismBanksyElena MazziEleonora SovraniGli ImpresariContemporary artVeniceCapitaloceneArt-activism

Copyright: © 2021 Emiliano Guaraldo. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.