THE CRY OF ANTONIO NEGRI
A Sound Installation for 4 Speakers
Presented at the Old Central Prison of Jerusalem – Underground Prisoners Museum during “Heara 4 – Big Comment”, December 2002
Duration: 14 min. Video Documentation: 30 sec.
THE CRY OF ANTONIO NEGRI – video documentation – December 2002
In 1978 the former Italian Prime Minister, Aldo Moro, was kidnapped and assassinated. An immediate expansion of the liberties given to the Italian security services followed, including a right to detain a person in “preventive arrest” to a period of up to 11 years without a trial. The new regulations brought the arrest of over 5000 people in Italy.
On April 7th 1979 70 people were arrested, among them the radical Italian Philosopher Antonio Negri, who was allegedly accused of being a member of the Red Brigades and was attributed headlining the gang who kidnapped and murdered Moro. Despite his arrest he continued his philosophical investigation, dedicating himself to the study of Spinoza, Marx and Hegel.
On Christmas Eve 25th of December 1980, Negri found himself in the midst of a prison revolt in the Trani prison. The wardens response was cruel and brutal. Negri, along with every other inmate, was severely beaten, and his property destroyed. Among the possessions now lost, Negri kept the drafts he has made for his next book, over which he has labored for the past five years. Legend has it that upon returning to his cell, beaten, bruised, he has sounded a cry that has caused all the other prisoners to delve into silence for a whole day.
“Seeing everything ruined like that”, he told later “It ruins something deep inside of you”.
While he remained in prison he has persistently published five philosophy books, which have granted him acknowledgement all around the world.
In 83′ he was brought to trial with the accusation, based on his publications, of being “morally responsible” for the violence which seared in Italy at the time of Moro’s assassination. As a sign of protest Negri decided to run for the Italian parliament while still on trial, and on the elections held the same year succeeded in being elected, and was subsequently released from prison. During the time he spent outside the walls of the prison he has vigorously lectures against State Oppression. These subversive activities served as a cause for the parliament to vote in favor of lifting his diplomatic immunity, on a count of 300 against 293. Seeing the way things have turned, Negri has fled to France, where he has stayed in exile for 14 years. In his absence, he was indicted with all the charges of his accusation, and was sentenced to a punishment of 30 years in prison.
In 1997, after a long and brilliant career in France – side by side with the great French philosophers like Deleuze or Derrida, while never overcoming his yearnings for his homeland, Negri was resolved to make a courageous step and decided to return to his own country, where, at the age of 64, he was once more put behind bars.
Negri’s sentence was supposed to last until 2005.
His struggle against the stupidity of corrupted state bodies, as well as his fight for freedom of thought and release from the tyranny of the state, has positioned Negri as a symbol for the struggle for freedom and an icon for the anti-globalization movement.
The cry he has voiced that night, in Christmas of 1980, has turned into a symbol in its own right “The Cry of Antonio Negri” and there are some who claim it is still heard wherever there are or were political prisoners and free thought is oppressed.
The work presented here tonight is based on this cry as it echoes between the walls of this very prison. The cry was recorded separately in each room and every cell in this compound, then later all the recordings were super-imposed on one another to be played (more or less) simultaneously.