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The 7th Piedmont Share Festival, from the 2nd till the 13th of Novermber 2011 at the Regional Museum of Natural Science , is dedicated to poetical and political expressions of contemporary practices, with the intentionally pop title Cops & Robbers underscoring its desecrating and provocative approach.

Cops and robbers, the innocent and the guilty, legalitarians and subversives, law-abiding citizens and revolutionaries.

There is always somebody stealing something and somebody else on their pursuit, like in Cops & Robbers, but the good guys today are often on the wrong side of the law. Roles have become unclear, ideas all mixed up. It is a fine line that separates the legal and illegal when it comes to freedom of speech, news leaks, activism, copyleft, appropriationism and interventionism.

These are concepts that inevitably have had an impact on other, correlated issues such as the freedom of the press, intellectual property, knowledge sharing, protest and public space.

Share Festival is an occasion to meditate on the emergence, in the background, of a social movement that is transforming the paradigms on which a digitalized, global society is based. This context has given rise to political issues revolving around the question of democracy and participation, and a critical understanding of the computerisation of culture and of shared social processes. Who is the author now? Who owns the data that we put on-line? Who does the stealing, who does the chasing?

An answer to these questions can be found in the artistic practices showcased by the Share Prize. The exhibition features works that express an aesthetic marking the shift from an entertainment society to a participatory society, from Fluxus and situationism to art in the digital age, from the official biennials to the Share Festival. The artists show us how an original is not worth more than a fake, and that specialist communication strategies are a parody of the message, as politics, new media and art converge.

The guests at this year’s conferences are in their own way robbers, counterfeiters, pranksters, culture jammers, interventionists, sign thieves, symbol makers, political agitators, and hacktivists, who take-over the digital dazibaos and surveillance cameras, hacking into civic information systems, claiming back the streets, inciting participation and inverting points of view. As participation becomes a wake-up call for dissent and activism, the festival becomes a vehicle for conveying a message that is provocative, paradoxical, and on the borderline of the law.

Whose side are you on? Cops or Robbers?