LAND IN SUSPENSION
RE I A D MM GOLFO A L L
On January 15th, 1968 an earthquake shook Western Sicily destroying four towns completely.
Fiume Belice Destro Fiume Belice Sinistro
TE RR E MO
TO 1 96 8 E ART
H Q UAK
Contessa Entellina e , to r elo c
ate G i bellin a ,
lapa r u t a , P Sa ogg i o re
ale an d M o n t e va go
r ar d, w oun e gr t of th
M ED ITE RR A N EAN SE A N 13º00’ E
itled Land in Suspension, the poem charts the destinies of four towns of the Belice valley in western Sicily, which were completely destroyed, relocated and remade after the 1968 earthquake. The largely forgotten agricultural hinterland is perhaps best known by Alberto Burriâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Cretto, a vast expanse of concrete islands entombing the ruins of Gibellina, a town founded in the late 14th century. Gibellina, Salaparuta, Montevago and Poggioreale were virtually unknown in the Italian mainland before the earthquake, and still remain today in anonymity with dwindling populations, save for the new ghost-town of Gibellina that has gained status as one of the largest outdoor art museums in the world. The poem is composed over the course of three trips to the Belice Valley, where I have made correspondences with generous individuals and archives, and traversed the long distances separating the ruins and new towns,whilst surveying the remains of 1968, and the erosion of urban experiments that had been initiated with misguided vigour, then aborted or left unfinished. Having borne witness to its own inadequacy, architectureâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s medium here takes form of a testimony and a counter-song to the vast excesses of architectural and artistic production in the reconstruction of the four towns. The voice of the poem is suspicious of the agency of the singular architect, and speaks instead in the tongues of the inheritors of ruins: the pioneer species, the stray dogs, and those inhabitants who try to make sense or to make do with the double catastrophe, natural and man made. In this territory, where the agency of rebuilding and construction has been exhausted, the architect-writer can give the ruins and new towns the possibility to be read together for the first time since their displacement, providing the knowledge and preparing the ground for future adjustments of the eight sites by their human and ecological community.
The verses follow and give form to the potentiality of the sites that is built upon the earthquake’s unexpected gifting to the land its suspension, a new status in the abandonment and non-use of spaces engendered by seismic force and incomplete reconstruction. Coinciding with the process of writing this thesis, I was translating Giorgio Agamben’s first poem Radure (‘Clearings’, 1967) that predated his philosophical vocation from Italian to English. His poem unfolds a succession of ‘clearings’ – images of potentiality – which emphasises upon the special modality independent of actualisation, a realm of inherent possibility present before and in every act, every architectural project, every work of art. To place potentiality at the centre of thought here in Land in Suspension, is to give primacy and attentiveness to the questions that can form the foundation of an architectural knowledge: Gibellina, its museumfication; Salaparuta, the banished Archive of Reconstruction of the entire Belice Valley; Montevago, the preservation and use of the 1968 rubble, and Poggioreale, the romanticisation and enclosure of the entire intact ruin. By virtue of their suspension, these conditions share a disjointedness with present time that can be detected by the architectural survey and elucidated in drawing, without which its traces of their distinct latencies would be lost. The stanza, or verse in poetry, is at once the basic vessel for the poetic line, and a space in its own right referring to its literal meaning in Italian, that is ‘room’. This ‘room’ was reinterpreted anew by Stéphane Mallarmé in Un Coup de Dés (1897), which considers the whiteness of the page as its entire canvas, and each word’s typography, placement and the negative space it engenders as inextricable from its meaning. It is this intimacy between free verse and the textual space that the poem seeks as a basis for a language for the afterlife of ruins in the Belice valley. To translate is to move something from one place to another (Latin translat- ‘carried across’), from the act of displacing entire towns to the physical manifestation of the urban plan. Interwoven with renderings of Siculo (Sicilian language) to English, the poem becomes the site for micro translations of found conditions and objects from the valley. Imbued with new meaning and use, they are shadows recast from their current reality, connecting minor histories to form an interlocking constellation on the page, language that translates the poem itself to the readers of the Belice Valley.
* The poem was first printed in a large book format, with each spread measuring 1000 x 650 mm. It is intended to be read on an easel with a film projection over the pages, which casts additional archival material, films, photographs and drawings onto the printed content. A photographic record can be found in the reference matter. The translation of Giorgio Agamben’s Radure (‘Clearings’, 1967) can be found also in the reference matter.
Christmas at Gibellina, Joesph Beuys Mimmo Jodice (1981)
On January 15th 1968, an earthquake shook western Sicily â&#x20AC;&#x201C; destroying four towns
Belice earthquake seismogram 15/1/68 00:08 (UTC) USGS Earthquake Hazards Program of the U.S. Geological Survey
Teatro Consagra in ruins Gibellina, 2017
destruction shattered centuries of deprivation in the Belice valley Belice earthquake seismogram 15/1/68 01:47 (UTC) USGS Earthquake Hazards Program of the U.S. Geological Survey
simultaneously unleashing decades of wholesale reconstruction
30 k m
290 0k m
Sicilian Basal Th rust
) lid (so e or rc
0 km 510
0 / 6378 km
Centre of the Earth
The Sicilian Basal Thrust Relative to Earthâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s strata
The Sicilian Basal Thrust resting from earthâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s surface
30 km deep had finally stirred after geological epochs of sleep
4 km 18 km 4 km
Beli c e me u Fi
Relocations of Gibellina, Salaparuta, Poggioreale and Montevago
a small adjustment of the ground warranted
Gibellina, Salaparuta, Montevago and Poggioreale at distances of 18,
and 2 km
Land of Suspension Ruins of Poggioreale, 2017
The force of seismic energy and utopian reconstruction brings into being
a new Zone â&#x20AC;&#x201C;
Lavuratori and The Cycle of Wheat Gianni Nastasi (1982)
Colonisation of the Belice Valley, 1939 Agency for Agrarian Colonisation of Sicilian Large Estates
suspended from centuries of cultivation in the Lavuratori’s cycles of wheat suspended from the decade of colonisation in the Fascist regime’s reclamation of the countryside
Cretto, Gibellina 2015 Google Earth
from use â&#x20AC;&#x201C;
in the new abandoned cultural institutions, at the sites of ruination (the paths between concrete swathes fallow land and cultivated land) at Burriâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Cretto
Cretto, Alberto Burri Gibellina, 2017
where dogs roam freely
four seasons and new towns
of land in suspension between the grounds of the ruins
Christmas at Gibellina, 2017
at the height of Mayor Corraoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s summer, architects (Ungers Purini, Gregotti, Venezia) came and left signatures, unfinished and empty
artists, (Beuys Mendini, Burri, Consagra)
two thousand gifts for four thousand people cherished or unwanted
From top, left to right: Meeting, Pietro Consagra, 1976 (Mimmo Jodice, 1981); Progetto per il centro di Gibellina, O. M. Ungers (Rossella Bigi, 1990); Chiesa Madre, Ludivico Quaroni, 1972 (Giovanni Chiaramonte, 1990); Museo a Gibellina, Francesco Venezia (Giovanni Chiaramonte, 1990); Il Municipio, Vittorio Gregotti, Giuseppe SamonĂ , 1972 (Christmas, 2017); Museo dâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Arte Contemporanea, (Christmas, 2017)
From top, left to right: Stella d’ingresso al Belice, Pietro Consagra (Mimmo Jodice, 1981); Torre civica, Alessandro Mendini (Giovanni Chiaramonte, 1990); La vera medicina è l’eternità, Bruno Ceccobelli (October, 2017), Arato, Arnaldo Pomodoro (December, 2017); Renaissance, Daneil Spoerri (December, 2017); Città del Sole, Mimmo Rotella (December, 2017); Per Gibellina, Mauro Staccioli (December, 2017)
Teatro Consagra Nuova Gibellina 2017
Cretto, Alberto Burri Gibellina, 2017
Teatro Consagra on one end, lavori in corso; work in progress the townâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s nucleus without audience nor play an empty stage Cretto on the other, strata of deserted layers of time a fresh layer of paint over cracks and lichen plateaus for new vistas
The fences of Teatro Consagra are removed, the stage
for the first time,
ever open â&#x20AC;&#x201C;
Tractors move debris from the Teatro to the site of the ruins and return to the new town with nothing
Steps to reach the surface of the Cretto For the one who haunts the cracks and the one to lock its gaze to the eyes of the only remaining house
Archive of Reconstruction Nuova Salaparuta 2017
Archive of Reconstruction Nuova Salaparuta, 2017
Salaparuta, where winter sleeps and the Archive of Reconstruction
falls into amnesia
its contents still quivering from the excess of violence on the drawing board locked away
Fragments of Chiesa Madre at Nuova Salaparuta Domenica Sutera, 2017
Chiesa Madre Ruins of Salaparuta, 2017
Nearby, languishes an open archive at a carpark edge of town discarded, a heap â&#x20AC;&#x201C; elements of the turreted facade of Chiesa Madre (the last of Sicilian Baroque in Western Sicily)
remnants from 4 km away at the shadow town
steps to her nave, (the summit of all Beliceâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ruins)
shipwreck on promontory
Unlock the doors to the Archive of Reconstruction â&#x20AC;&#x201C;
box folders and scrolls to be moved into nomadic libraries that traverse the
constellation of eight sites, beginning from the nave of Salaparutaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Chiesa Madre
Fragments of her facade from in the backyard of the new town
form a estranged always from for future survey
4 centuries past, languishing
Ruins of Montevago, 2017
Montevago, the autumn of harvesting
the crop of ruins kept
open-air reserves of rubble open for trespass overgrown almost indistinguishable in
for inhabitants 2 km
down the road no fetishes to be revered
Limestone Quarry at Montevago Calcestruzzi Belice
rubble, like limestone from the nearby quarry, material, obtained by rupture seismic and sheer will for construction, imprinted with its secret negativity.
In the year the ground once by seismic force
second by the drill of extraction, a new quarry founded in the same year.
The opening of one for limestone, another, the rubble
two quarries, left in the wake of the momentous shifts on a January evening, weathering in the decades
Now, intermingling of stone, concrete and clay, ripe for use Gabions, of debris already crushed by time reinforcements in the new town
Piazza Elimo Nuova Poggioreale, 2017
Piazza Elimo Ruins of Poggioreale, 2017
Poggioreale, of the most intact seismic ruination,
the spring of the afterlives and ideological ruination
4 km away from Portoghesiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s postmodern redux of Piazza Elimo
the 15th century town waits, behind gates discouraging unauthorized entry upon the soil
soil, untended and stony yet enough for those species that need very little,
Soil Monolith from UBC monolith collection Subgroup: Cumulic Regosol (C.UR.) Great group: Regosol Order: Regosol
Ailanthus Altissima Ruins of Poggioreale, 2017
Chiesa di GesĂš e Maria Ruins of Poggioreale, 2017
very little, almost nothing, old inhabitants make small
adjustments â&#x20AC;&#x201C; scaffolding, flooring â&#x20AC;&#x201C;
as their forebears did before just 10 years before the earthquake a new floor for 1958 overgrown in 50 years a wild garden in need of new paths amongst weeds and the pioneer
Annuals, biennuals perennials, to follow, in an opening in the land of suspension a coming community
Opening gates to a garden already creeping into life
Scaffolding in compression, scaffolding as trellis – pergolas at failing structures
‘Gift a new flooring’ The new tiling of 1958, The new tiling of 2011,
New tiling for old paths vectors of spolia leaking from Piazza Elimo
Replenish soil in cracks and slips, for new species to join Ailanthus Altissima –
The poem was first printed in a large book format, with each spread measuring 1000 x 650 mm. It is intended to be read on an easel with a film projection over the pages, which casts additional archival material, films, photographs and drawings onto the printed content. The following is photographic record of selected spreads.
Projection of footage of the earthquake’s aftermath from ‘Immagini Rai del terremoto in Sicilia del 14-15 gennaio 1968’ by journalist Sergio Zavoli at Gibellina, and moving text ‘terrae motus’ over the first spread.
Projection of excerpt of a camera panning over the Belice valley from â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Sicilia: terremoto anno unoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; (1970) by Giuseppe Scavuzzo over the fifth spread.
Projection of Lavuratori working in the fields of the Belice Valley, from â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Sicilia: terremoto anno unoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; (1970) by Giuseppe Scavuzzo over the sixth spread.
Projection of film excerpt of a herd of sheep traversing the neighbouring slopes of old Gibellina from â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Il Grande Cretto di Gibellinaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; by artist Petra Noordkamp (2015) over the eighth spread.
Projection of photo by Giovanni Chiaramonte of Chiesa Madre from collection â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Gibellina. Utopia concretaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; (1989), the mother church designed by Ludivico Quaroni over the ninth spread.
Projection of an artefact collected from fieldwork, a construction helmet marked ‘Alessio 13/G/NE’ and ‘MADE IN ITALY’ from the abandoned Teatro Consagra over the eleventh spread.
Projection of shadows of translated elements from Gibellina â&#x20AC;&#x201C; il teatro (theatre), le recinzioni (fence), il trattore (tractor), il cretto (crack), la scala (stair) and la casa (house) over the twelfth spread.
Projection of photograph (Christmas 2017) of the promenade built between the ruins of Montevago, with rubble falling over existing fenced off sections, over the sixteenth spread.
Projection of an artefact collected from fieldwork, a fragment of limestone from the debris amongst the ruins of Montevago over the seventeenth spread.
Projection of shadows of translated elements from Poggioreale â&#x20AC;&#x201C; il giardino (garden), il pergolato (pergola), la mattonella (tile) and il sentiero (path) over the eighteenth spread.
Collaborations & Bibliography
Correspondences and meetings Sergio Zavattieri, artist based in Palermo Laura Barreca, curator at Palazzo Riso, Palermo Domenica Sutera, researcher at University of Palermo, Department of Architecture Professor Giuseppe Barbera, University of Palermo, Department of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Sciences Professor Alessandra Badami, University of Palermo, Department of Architecture Enzo Fiammetta, director of the Orestiadi Foundation, Gibellina Alessandro Del Puppo, associate professor at University of Udine, History of Contemporary Art Nicola Del Roscio, Cy Twomblyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s longtime companion and head of the Cy Twombly Foundation Dr. Petra Richter, art historian, writer on Joseph Beuys, Germany Stephan Arntz, head archivist at the Joseph Beuys archive, Bedburg-Hau, Germany
Bibliography Abbate, Fulvio, and Mimmo Jodice. Joseph Beuys Natale a Gibellina 1981. Museo Civico D’Arte Contemporanea Di Gibellina, 1982. Agamben, Giorgio. Radure. Tempo Presente, anno XII (n. 6), giugno 1967. Antista, Giuseppe, and Domenica Sutera. Belice 1968-2008: Barocco Perduto, Barocco Dimenticato. Edizioni Caracol, 2008. Barbera, Giuseppe. “Sicily.” Italian Historical Rural Landscapes: Cultural Values for the Environment and Rural Development, by Mauro Agnoletti, Springer, 2013. Cristallini, Elisabetta, et al. Gibellina: Una città per Una società Estetica: Nata Dall’arte. Gangemi, 2004. Frazzetto, Giuseppe. Gibellina, La Mano e La Stella. Orestiadi, 2007. Haas, J. Eugene, and Robert S. Ayre. The Western Sicily Earthquake of 1968: a Report. National Academy of Sciences, 1969. Jodice, Mimmo, and Giovanni Chiaramonte. Gibellina: Utopia Concreta. F. Motta Editore, 1990. Mallarmé Stéphane. Un Coup De Des Jamais N’abolira Le Hasard: Poeme. Gallimard, 1914. Nobile, Marco Rosario., et al. Catastrofi e Dinamiche Di Inurbamento Contemporaneo: città Nuove e Contesto. Caracol, 2012. Parrinello, Giacomo. Fault Lines: Earthquakes and Urbanism in Modern Italy. Berghahn Books, 2015. Poppo, Alessandro Del. “Destruction and Construction in Contemporary Art: Three Cases in Twentieth-Century Italy (Gibellina 1968, Friuli 1976, Napoli 1980).” Wounded Cities: the Representation of Urban Disasters in European Art, by Marco Folin, Brill, 2016. Scibilia, Federica. “The reconstruction of Gibellina after the 1968 Belice earthquake”. International Planning History Society Proceedings, 17th IPHS Conference, 2016. Sutera, Domenica. Architetture della Valle del Belice prima e dopo il terremoto. Lexicon: Storie e architettura in Sicilia, n. 7, 2008.
Giorgio Agamben Tempo Presente, anno XII (n. 6), giugno 1967
Stanza II – Room II
Coro dello sguardo,
Chorus of the gaze,
Non voglio più regnare.
I do not want to reign anymore.
Ora, incendio, ora:
Now, ﬁre, now:
I am ready.
Quale maschera dovrò incontrare?
What mask do I have to meet?
I do want.
Bellezza è destino. Come può un uomo
Beauty is destiny. How can a man
fermarsi sulla sua strada e chiedere: questo
stop on his path and ask: this
è il mio destino? Come un vagare si misura al cielo?
is my destiny? How a wander is a measure of heaven?
Perché le creature appaiono in bellezza
Because the creatures appear in beauty
e sospendono il tempo, quasi lo lanciano in alto,
and suspend time, almost casting it up,
l’uomo ha destino; perché col cuore si lega,
man has destiny; because with the heart he binds,
lui senza cuore, al divino corteo della presenza,
he without heart, to the divine procession of presence,
può dimenticare la sua solitudine e dire:
he can forget his solitude and say:
o dio, non mi abbandonare!
o god, do not abandon me!
Un occhio è il destino, e un mondo il suo viaggio.
One eye is destiny, and a world its journey.
Vita: e più di te vogliamo,
Life: and the more of you we want,
più rischiamo da quando
the more we risk since
l’abisso non ci tiene;
the abyss does not hold us;
stranieri ci fonda
strangers makes us
il nostro volere
a noi stessi e a te,
to ourselves and to you,
sulla terra, come il dio;
on earth, like god;
e un destino sonoro
and a sonorous destiny
perché tutto in noi
so that everything in us
Stanza III – Room III
Stanza V – Room V
E soli noi vogliamo,
And in solitude we want,
soli nel cerchio
in solitude in the circle
obscure of existence:
e siamo fuori di te,
and we are out of you,
in te non moriamo,
in you we do not die,
alla dolce morte
from sweet death
notturna delle creature.
nocturnal of creatures.
Noi siamo il deserto,
We are the desert
stupore di Niobe;
astonishment of Niobe;
un destino di ricchezza
a destiny of richness
ci rende poveri,
makes us poor,
come la sabbia, o divina,
like sand, o divine,
segnati dalla cifra
marked by the ﬁgure
indicibile del vento.
unspeakable of wind.
Ci slanciamo verso gli dei
We hurl towards the gods
ed entriamo nell’ombra.
and we enter into the shadows.
Ancora al fuoco ci spinge
Again to the ﬁre pushes us
la nostra origine.
E in lei si è ritirata la parola.
And in her retired the word.
Quando potremo fermarci? In nessun luogo.
When will we be able to stop? Nowhere.
Il passaggio nel dio, il varco nel suo impero
The passage into god, the opening through his empire
ci ha tolto il divino
has taken away the divine
essere in noi, consistere.
being in us, the consisting.
Così dobbiamo voltarci verso l’arte,
So we have to turn to art,
espiare la nostalgia come furore.
atone nostalgia like fury.