Page 1

LAND IN SUSPENSION

A

POEM

1968


RE I A D MM GOLFO A L L

13º00’ E

CASTE

139.4 km

38º00’ N

Palermo

A29

Calatafimi Camporeale

Vita

On January 15th, 1968 an earthquake shook Western Sicily destroying four towns completely.

Fiume Belice Destro Fiume Belice Sinistro

TE RR E MO

Salemi

TO 1 96 8 E ART

H Q UAK

GIBELLINA

E

Lago Garcia

POGGIOREALE

Cretto –a

sm

all ad

j us

Santa Ninfa

te

an

Quarry

MONTEVAGO

d

R

om

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

Santa Margherita

37º40’ N

Fiume Belice

r ar d, w oun e gr t of th

Partanna

tmen

SALAPARUTA

Sambuca

Menfi

M ED ITE RR A N EAN SE A N 13º00’ E

0

5 km


PREFACE

T

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 Burri’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, architecture’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 – destroying four towns

Belice earthquake seismogram 15/1/68 00:08 (UTC) USGS Earthquake Hazards Program of the U.S. Geological Survey

completely


Teatro Consagra in ruins Gibellina, 2017


Seconds of

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


100 km

30 k m

Crust

In ne

Outer core

(liqu id)

290 0k m

Sicilian Basal Th rust

Earth

) lid (so e or rc

Belice Valley

0 km

0 km 510

0 / 6378 km

Centre of the Earth

The Sicilian Basal Thrust Relative to Earth’s strata


The Sicilian Basal Thrust resting from earth’s surface

30 km deep had finally stirred after geological epochs of sleep


Nuova Gibellina

4 km 18 km 4 km

Nuova Poggioreale

Nuova Salaparuta

Beli c e me u Fi

2 km

Nuova Montevago

Relocations of Gibellina, Salaparuta, Poggioreale and Montevago


a small adjustment of the ground warranted

Rome

to relocate

Gibellina, Salaparuta, Montevago and Poggioreale at distances of 18,

4

and 2 km


Land of Suspension Ruins of Poggioreale, 2017


The force of seismic energy and utopian reconstruction brings into being

a new Zone –

land

in

suspension


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

suspended –


Cretto, Gibellina 2015 Google Earth


from use –

in the new abandoned cultural institutions, at the sites of ruination (the paths between concrete swathes fallow land and cultivated land) at Burri’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


Gibellina,

at the height of Mayor Corrao’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 Samonà , 1972 (Christmas, 2017); Museo d’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 town’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 –

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 – 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 Belice’s ruins)

shipwreck on promontory



Unlock the doors to the Archive of Reconstruction –

50 years

box folders and scrolls to be moved into nomadic libraries that traverse the

constellation of eight sites, beginning from the nave of Salaparuta’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

lapidarium

its origin


Ruins of Montevago, 2017


Montevago, the autumn of harvesting

the crop of ruins kept

aside

open-air reserves of rubble open for trespass overgrown almost indistinguishable in

for inhabitants 2 km

disintegration

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

1968

shifted

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

once more

next door


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 Portoghesi’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

almost nothing


Ailanthus Altissima Ruins of Poggioreale, 2017

Chiesa di GesĂš e Maria Ruins of Poggioreale, 2017


very little, almost nothing, old inhabitants make small

adjustments – scaffolding, flooring –

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

Ailanthus Altissima

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 –



REFERENCE MATTER



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 ‘Sicilia: terremoto anno uno’ (1970) by Giuseppe Scavuzzo over the fifth spread.


Projection of Lavuratori working in the fields of the Belice Valley, from ‘Sicilia: terremoto anno uno’ (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 ‘Il Grande Cretto di Gibellina’ by artist Petra Noordkamp (2015) over the eighth spread.


Projection of photo by Giovanni Chiaramonte of Chiesa Madre from collection ‘Gibellina. Utopia concreta’ (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 – 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 – 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 Twombly’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.


Radure

Giorgio Agamben Tempo Presente, anno XII (n. 6), giugno 1967


Stanza II – Room II

Radure

Clearings

1

Coro dello sguardo,

Chorus of the gaze,

2

indietreggia!

3

Non voglio più regnare.

I do not want to reign anymore.

4

Ora, incendio, ora:

Now, fire, now:

5

sono pronto.

I am ready.

6

Quale maschera dovrò incontrare?

What mask do I have to meet?

7

Io voglio.

I do want.

8

Bellezza è destino. Come può un uomo

Beauty is destiny. How can a man

9

fermarsi sulla sua strada e chiedere: questo

stop on his path and ask: this

10

è il mio destino? Come un vagare si misura al cielo?

is my destiny? How a wander is a measure of heaven?

11

Perché le creature appaiono in bellezza

Because the creatures appear in beauty

12

e sospendono il tempo, quasi lo lanciano in alto,

and suspend time, almost casting it up,

13

l’uomo ha destino; perché col cuore si lega,

man has destiny; because with the heart he binds,

14

lui senza cuore, al divino corteo della presenza,

he without heart, to the divine procession of presence,

15

può dimenticare la sua solitudine e dire:

he can forget his solitude and say:

16

o dio, non mi abbandonare!

o god, do not abandon me!

17

Un occhio è il destino, e un mondo il suo viaggio.

One eye is destiny, and a world its journey.

18

Vita: e più di te vogliamo,

Life: and the more of you we want,

19

più rischiamo da quando

the more we risk since

20

l’abisso non ci tiene;

the abyss does not hold us;

21

stranieri ci fonda

strangers makes us

22

il nostro volere

our will

23

a noi stessi e a te,

to ourselves and to you,

24

sulla terra, come il dio;

on earth, like god;

25

e un destino sonoro

and a sonorous destiny

26

ci compie

fulfills us

27

perché tutto in noi

so that everything in us

28

resti incompiuto.

remains unfulfilled.

Stanza III – Room III

retreat!


Stanza V – Room V

29

E soli noi vogliamo,

And in solitude we want,

30

soli nel cerchio

in solitude in the circle

31

oscuro dell’esistenza:

obscure of existence:

32

e siamo fuori di te,

and we are out of you,

33

in te non moriamo,

in you we do not die,

34

illimitati, sottratti

unlimited, subtracted

35

alla dolce morte

from sweet death

36

notturna delle creature.

nocturnal of creatures.

37

Noi siamo il deserto,

We are the desert

38

stupore di Niobe;

astonishment of Niobe;

39

un destino di ricchezza

a destiny of richness

40

ci rende poveri,

makes us poor,

41

come la sabbia, o divina,

like sand, o divine,

42

segnati dalla cifra

marked by the figure

43

indicibile del vento.

unspeakable of wind.

44

Ci slanciamo verso gli dei

We hurl towards the gods

45

ed entriamo nell’ombra.

and we enter into the shadows.

46

Ancora al fuoco ci spinge

Again to the fire pushes us

47

la nostra origine.

our origin.

48

E in lei si è ritirata la parola.

And in her retired the word.

49

Quando potremo fermarci? In nessun luogo.

When will we be able to stop? Nowhere.

50

Il passaggio nel dio, il varco nel suo impero

The passage into god, the opening through his empire

51

ci ha tolto il divino

has taken away the divine

52

essere in noi, consistere.

being in us, the consisting.

53

Così dobbiamo voltarci verso l’arte,

So we have to turn to art,

54

espiare la nostalgia come furore.

atone nostalgia like fury.