Giacomo Ardesio & Harikleia Karamali
Alexandra Savtchenko-Belskaia, Andrew Kwok, David Lin I-Chun, Jane Wong, Linxin Li, Mingyi Lim, Sadia Rahman, Vidhi Goel, William Himpe, Zhan Su
Relentlessly questioning the ever-changing role of cultural institutions, this year the AA Museum Lab - led by Giulia Foscari - embraced the opportunity to participate to the 12th edition of Manifesta to investigate the complexities of Palermo’s formal and informal cultural scene.
The State of Delayof the Mediterranean epicenter - evidence of the innate resistance to change vis-à-vis conquerors, natural calamities, and unorthodox forms of governance - is seen by the AA Museum Lab students as an opportunity. A unique chance for Palermo to learn from the oversights of allegedly advanced cities, evaluate critically the effects of urban and social policies, and ensure a conscious preservation of its identity and rare intensity.
Within this framework, the ambition of the AA Museum Lab is to examine, unveil and instrumentalise such a condition by proposing curatorial strategies that allow selected sites to enjoy a renewed value.
Relying heavily on close collaborations with local actors, the individual projects: contest impending gentrification trends though street artcuration; analyse the land in suspensionof the Belice Valley; respond to EU political imperatives by challenging the path of the century-old processions; unveil the historic layering of Santa Chiara; consign neglected shrines in Ballarò to migrant communities; transforms Piazzetta Appalto in Vucciria by installing transparent appositionsthat evoke both conceptually and architecturally the famous maxi-trial bunker courtroom; create an atlas of sicilianitàconstructed upon Leonardo Sciascia’s writings and Palermo’s filmography; propose a diffused archivefor Letizia Battaglia; identify immersive rooms of delaythat question preservation paradigms; and, finally, curate a progressive demolition of abandoned houses of Pizzo Sella by accelerating a re-naturalisation process with destructive local pioneer species.
Driven by the ambition of leaving lasting traces in the city for the local communities, the research-based agenda led each student to produce site installations that operate at the disciplinary threshold between architecture and art.
The underlying student investigations are presented within a collective exhibition, held in the Convent of Sant’Antonino, in the format of independently edited books that seamlessly float within the destructive ecosystem reminiscent of Capo Gallo’s natural reserve. The re-enactment of Mingyi Lim’s intervention in Pizzo Sella - which provocatively accelerates a nature take-over of the built environment to address the aftermath of the Sack of Palermo - acts as a backdrop to all projects embodying the unit’s fascination for Palermo’s suspension and establishing a dialogue with Manifesta’s Planetary Garden.