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Sicily’s history is one of successive empires or “dominations” as Sicilians term them. Its culture comes as much from its position as a Mediterranean island as it does from its inclusion in a relatively recent Italian union. In geological terms, it stands on both the European and the African plates, our area of research occupying the Africa plate. It Sicilian history it has not been uncommon to transplant whole populations there from other lands. This project looks at one such population and the town that emerged in the 18th Century from a Maltese migration called, Pachino, a town which even today preserves its distinctive character as a tight urban grid bordered on all sides by wheat fields. The wheat itself emerged as an essential character within my project when I discovered that this is one of the crops which Sicily continues to cultivate in its ancient form, just as it was when it first migrated to the Island from the African continent. The knowledge gained from this research was used to propose possibilities for the development of a large and famous Asylum Seekers Reception Centre (C.A.R.A) close to the town of Mineo in the same region. The C.A.R.A di Mineo, is a former US Naval base built by a private firm which was quickly abandoned because it was too secluded, was transformed into one of the largest reception centres for asylum seekers in Europe. This analysis and investigation based on both empirical and literal findings, proposes possibilities for the development of the CARA and other secluded settlements on the Island.

BRINA MEZE-PETRIC CMT STUDIO JUNE 2018 Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien

POLLINATION OF TOMATOES We visited two farmers and their greenhouses. One was using a traditional way of growing tomatoes and the other one very futuristic one. After the popular pollination of crops by hand, they both realized bumblebees’ pollination is way more efficient.

ANTI-MAFIA PROTEST In the main square of Pachino we found ourselves in the middle of a gathering against the mafia’s interference in the agricultural land. It happens often that mafia burns down greenhouses in order to make farmers bankrupt and buy their land by the lower price.

ABANDONED FACTORY We visited the abandoned factory on the edge of Marzamemi. We sneaked inside and walked through some of the rooms. In the back was an abandoned railroad.

BEACH CLEANING Each pair of people cleaned one stripe of the beach. With Stephan we were marking the already cleaned parts with the pattern, drawn in the sand. Going further away from the sea, we saw ants using waste as a building material for their nest.




CARA DI MINE centre .2000 people


SCICLI safe house

CAS ALESSANDR FRASCA SAS, ROSO Extraordinary Recep Centre


SICULIANA closed in 2017

PIANO TORRE DI ISNELLO temporary centre .100 people

EO PIAN DEL LAGO, CALTANISSETTA centre .15 people RAGUSA primary care

RO OLINI ption

CATANIA primary care SIRACUSA primary care AUGUSTA primary care MESSINA primary care



C.A.R.A. di Mineo is a reception centre for asylum seekers, located in the middle of a rural Sicily, near the town Mineo. Centre is a former US Navy accommodation base, which was abandoned in 2010 due to too large distance to the Sigonella US Navy Base, located near Catania. Today, this is one of the biggest migrant centres in Europe and provides space for more than 2000 people from over 30 different nationalities, who are accommodated in 400 identically looking houses. Because of the corruption, involvement of mafia and private ownership of the centre, CARA di Mineo faces with more than many problems.

C.A.R.A. DI MINEO Migrants transported to the port are accepted by the stuff. After the identification they are accommodated in the reception centre for asylum seekers C.A.R.A. di Mineo where they have to wait for an asylum or to be send back home.


Wheat was always a primary source for survival and thought out the history understood as an confirmation of a civilized society. People on the move took the grains with them because they are able to survive for a longer period of time without any treatment and the crops are drought resistant and easy to oppose unpredictable climates. With flow of migrants wheat came as well to the fertile lands of Sicily and today we know there (together with the endemic breeds) more than 50 different breeds of ancient grain, which were able to survive till today. Their main feature is that they are in majority low in gluten which is opposite to a common wheat which was gene modified in order to increase its level of gluten to the maximum. In the time of great gluten intolerance there is a great potential in the revitalisation of the cultivation of ancient breeds of wheat from Sicily.


CASEDDA .soft wheat

PERCIASACCHI/ KHORASAN (KAMUT) .soft wheat .1,5-1,8m high .easy digestible .rich in fibre .flour has intense yellow colour and unique aroma

MAIORCA .soft wheat .1,8m high .quadrangular spikes .red beards .easy digestible .intense scent

RUSSELLO .soft wheat .derives from russian wheat TANGAROG .high spike wheat (2m) .easy digestible




TIMILIA/ TUMMINIA .hard wheat .from Helenic period .late blooming grain .resistant to drought .flour has a greyish hue

PROTEIN: high level (10,5%) GLUTEN: low level (14%)

REALFORTE .hard wheat

PROTEIN: high level GLUTEN: low level DURUM WHEAT .soft wheat .derives from Africa .suitable for dry climate .used for making high quality past

GLUTEN: high level



GLUTEN: medium level (55%)



Since I was interested in the elasticity and structure of the dough I decided to use flours with different gluten levels and observe under the microscope if there are any differences in their structure. For the experiment I chose three flours: CORN FLOUR (Austrian), 0% gluten SEMOLA DI GRANO DURO/Hard wheat flour, (Sicily), 55% gluten CAKE FLOUR, 90+% gluten (Austrian) For the dough I decided to make a sourdough starter, also called a pre-ferment, which is a mixture of flour and water. By mixing flour and water, the starter is like a living organism that is cultivated over days and weeks, allowing it to develop a tangy flavour and other properties that helps the sourdough bread to rise. Process started with mixing flours and water in three identical jars. Water was bottled since the tap water may contain chlorine, which would kill the yeast. I let the dough sit for a 24 hours in the warm place, covered tightly with a plastic wrap. After 24 hours I checked the activity of the yeast. If containing small bubbles on the surface, it was prepared for another feeding: half of the dough was taken away, and to the rest of it the same amount of flour and water (1:1) was added. After two days of feeding, jars didn’t have to be air tightly covered anymore since the gases created in the dough had to exit. I was repeating the same process for 15 days and few times checked the yeast activity with the microscope. The CAKE FLOUR dough quickly became sour but after some days the development completely stopped and stayed at the same level till now. It could be that the sourdough was already developed at that point and after the yeast was just becoming stronger. The most visible activity was with the SEMOLA. It’s still the fluffiest and the bubbliest out of the three flours. It has the very similar smell to the commercial yeast what indicates that it is fully developed as a sourdough. The most I struggled with the CORN FLOUR. Since there is no gluten in it, the dough wasn’t compact. The development wasn’t so clearly visible in comparison to other two doughs. But surprisingly, under the microscope the yeast was very active. After checking all the sourdoughs under the microscope and comparing the structure I can conclude that the flour with no gluten has less starch particles as SEMOLA, furthermore the CAKE FLOUR with the highest amount of gluten has as well the greatest amount of starch. The yeast has the same activity in all three flours.


First day of dough, when the yeast didn’t start to develop yet.

After 24 hours I checked the activity of the yeast. If contained small bubbles on the surface, it was prepared for another feeding: half of the dough was taken away, and to the rest of it a same amount of flour and water (1:1) was added. CORN FLOUR and SEMOLA didn’t show any activity so I left them in a same place for another 24 hours. CAKE FLOUR: In 24 hours bubbles appeared on the surface of the dough and it was ready for a new feeding.


All three doughs started to smell sour, that was the sign of the yeast development. The smell was present for several days. CORN FLOUR: Dough was the same as previous day SEMOLA: Dough increased and became very bubbly. CAKE FLOUR: During the 24 hours volume of the mixture doubled and after decreased to the original size After, I repeated the feeding process with all three flours. This time the plastic wrap was just softly put over the jars to allow gasses to exit.


Observation: CORN FLOUR: at the bottom of the jar bubbles started to form SEMOLA and CAKE FLOUR: In the dough the amount of air bubbles decreased. Process of feeding was repeated.


Observation: CORN FLOUR: on the top of the dough layer of fluid appeared, bubbles were still present just on the bottom of the jar. SEMOLA: bubbles reappeared in small amount CAKE FLOUR: amount of bubbles decreased even more New feeding.


Observation: CORN FLOUR: Layer of fluid reappeared. The smell was strong, sour. Bubbles were still just at the bottom. SEMOLA: Dough doubled its volume. Amount of bubbles was slowly increasing. CAKE FLOUR: Bubbles disappeared from the top layer. New feeding.





I used a microscope and checked the development and activity of yeast in the doughs. CORN FLOUR: there was again the watery layer on the top. The smell was more sour and tart as with the other two doughs. Under the microscope yeast was very active. SEMOLA: Dough again doubled its volume, it was possible to smell the yeast. Under the microscope there were more yeast in comparison to the corn flour, but it was less active. CAKE FLOUR: No change from the previous feeding. Yeast was numerous and active. New feeding.


To compare to the previous day I again used microscope to observe the yeast. In all the doughs it was very active. CORN FLOUR: Again fluid on the top, but less than on the previous day. Smell was even tartier. Bubbles still present just on the bottom. The consistence of the dough reminds of pudding. SEMOLA: Dough tripled the volume from the previous day and latter decreased to the original volume. It was very bubbly and fluffy, but after the stirring very liquid. CAKE FLOUR: Bubbles reappeared on the top of the dough. New feeding.


Observation: CORN FLOUR: After the research I found out that the liquid that appeared again on the top of the dough is called HOOCH and it’s a result of adding too much water to the dough. In following days I decreased the amount of water added during the feeding process. The amount of bubbles in the dough increased. SEMOLA: Dough didn’t increased its volume but it was again very fluffy and liquid after the stirring. CAKE FLOUR: There wasn’t any strong sour smell anymore. Bubble were still present on the top of the dough. New feeding. When new amount of flour and water was added to the CAKE FLOUR, it was very elastic and compact.


Observation: CORN FLOUR: dough was fluffy but after the stirring not fluid. There was no hooch anymore and the sour smell increased. SEMOLA: Dough was fluffier than on the previous day. CAKE FLOUR: No change. New feeding.


With the microscope I again checked the yeast activity. CORN FLOUR: Dough was fluffy with the crusty top part. Above the dough there were larvae. With the spoon I removed the middle part of the crust. After sterilizing the spoon I took out the dough in the middle and moved it to another jar. The rest of the dough and larvae was thrown away. Because of the very strong sour smell of this dough few days ago fruit fly came under the covering into the jar. It probably laid the eggs from which larvae developed. SEMOLA: Dough doubled the volume. It was very fluffy and bubbly. CAKE FLOUR: dough had the brownish top layer and no bubbles on the top. Feeding decreased from daily to 3 times weekly.




Sourdough under the microscope (900x magnification), top: CORN FLOUR, middle: SEMOLA, bottom: CAKE FLOUR, DAY 7

Sourdough under the microscope (900x, 144x magnification), top: CORN FLOUR, middle: SEMOLA, bottom: CAKE FLOUR, DAY 15


For the experiment I wanted to observe with the microscope if there is any differentiation in the structure of the bread, depending on different levels of gluten. For the experiment I used 6 different flours, with different gluten levels: CORN FLOUR (Austria), 0% gluten TIMILIA (Sicily), 15% gluten RUSELLO (Sicily), 55% gluten SEMOLA DI GRANO DURO (Sicily), ≤55% gluten FLOUR MIX OF ANCIENT GRAIN (Slovenia), ≤55% gluten CAKE FLOUR (Austria), 90% gluten From all 6 flours I prepared a bread, always using 100g of flour, 4g of cream of tartar (Weinstein) and bottled water. I was backing the bread on 180°C for 45 minutes. After 24 hours, when all breads slowly cooled down I cut each of them in half. From the middle I cut thin slices and observed them under the microscope, with the 450x magnification. The structure of the breads looked very similar to each other and the areas that appeared darker under the microscope were probably thicker parts of the slice.




















In the Medieval times demand for wheat in South Italy was so big, that feudal lords, especially in the East of Sicily started to populate remote areas in order to gain more space for wheat cultivation. Newly established towns where populated by the foreign people brought to Sicily and the process of urbanization was always created after the unifying scheme. One of those towns is Pachino, which was established in 18th century by feudal lords, brother Starrabba. Town was planned by the concept of a chess board layout, since this is was the easiest and fastest system to plan a new organized settlement. The centre – main square was located on the top of the hill since there was a source of the fresh water. The whole town is spreading over the hill and overlooks the cultivated land around. Brothers decided to invite Maltese families as a first inhabitants, since in Malta there was a great poverty and a lot of crime at the time. Because of the bad living conditions families quickly agreed on moving. They were promised a plot of land, house, work by the feudal lords of the town and tax exemptions, lasting for 25 years. Throughout the following centuries in Pachino people were mainly growing wheat and producing wine. In the 1970s Pachino’s agriculture underwent through a serious crisis, which led to the abandonment of many vineyards, which were replaced by greenhouses of fruit and vegetables that now constitute Pachino’s main production. Because of the high importance of agriculture in Pachino, the cultivated land is preventing the town to spread and grow. The majority of the inhabitants are still having small plots of land and growing famous Pachino tomatoes. As well the wheat cultivation is slowly becoming gaining its importance.

WALK TO PACHINO During the walk to Pachino we experienced different layers of the town. Approaching it we first went through the area of greenhouses, than wheat fields and finally the narrow streets with small houses leading to the top of the hill. There was a main square and a church.


.experience the production of wheat .get flour of Russello grain .get yeast .talk to the owner, his wife and emplo


.talking to art history students about the traditional Sicilian grain, their cultivation and suggestion where I can find traditional flour


.find the wheat field on the outskirts of Pachino


.asking a man who was working infront of the house, next to the wheat field if he know the breed of the wheat


.talk to the employee about the bread, flour and ancient and traditional grains of Sicily .asking for traditional grain flour .unfrotunately she didn’t have any


.visiting on the recommendation of art history students .searching for traditional flour


.visiting on the recommendation of art history students .searching for traditional flour

products (bread, pastry, pizza)

oyees about the ancient and traditional grains of Sicily

FROM WHEAT TO READ Everything starts with the wheat grain, which sprouts and grows into a wheat. After the wheat is harvested the grain is divided from the bran and grain is milled into the flour. The flour is mixed with water and yeast, kneaded into a dough which after backing becomes a loaf of bread.

IN SEARCH OF A TRADITIONAL FLOUR In search of a traditional ancient grains I visited few bakeries together with my two studio colleagues. In first one the owner showed us the whole process of baking bread, pizza and pastries. I was able to get a flour from a local hard wheat.




Many small and medium-sized Sicilian towns were established in the 16th century, but especially in the 17th century. In this time the government granted the barons a right to found a new settlement in order to speed up the cultivation of very much needed wheat and to unite smaller farmers who were already cultivating in order to prevent competition. Opposite to the feudalism, typical in the rest of the Europe, Sicily didn’t use a system of serfdoms. Farmers were free to come to the town or leave and barons had to find ways how to keep them there. After the end of feudalism, barons were leaving their feud and moving to bigger cities. They released their armies and let the state to take over the job of enforcing the law. The state wasn’t able to provide this and the rural areas of Sicily became chaotic. Poverty pushed peasants to steal from others. Some property owners organized themselves in order to protect their land and this organizations were first mafia clans.

baron’s palace, located on his uncultivated feud if a baron established a town: 1) he was able to get a seat in the parliament 2) he had the feudal ownership over the town 3) he ruled the inhabitants

voluntary immigration of people to the newly established town, who were invited by the baron. The process many times involved transplantation of whole populations there from other lands

with migration, new settlers brought knowledge, tradition and customs which enriched and the feud and speeded up its development

on the border of the town wheat cultivation started

newly established town had to be populated by at least 80 families in order the baron got all the promised benefits


Riace village is located on Italy’s south coast on the top of the hill. For almost 15 years it was a ghost village. The village was in danger of becoming extinct as residents disappeared to northern Italy, and abroad, for jobs during the economic boom. In the end of the last millenium, boat of migrants reached the nearby beach and the mayor Domenico Lucano of the village decided to welcome them in the village. He set up a scheme, funded by the Italian government, to offer migrants accomodation, education and work. The result was a development of town’s economy and growth of population. Today, about 450 migrants, drawn from more than 20 countries beyond Europe, are living in Riace - about a quarter of the village’s total population.


With the analysis and investigation of the examples: Pachino C.A.R.A. di Mineo Riace village I found some repetitive elements which were crucial for a development of a settlement. The most essential elements for the improvement of living conditions, local economy and offering inhabitants a life in a better community would be: -permanent accommodation in form of Emphyteusis (a right of the enjoyment of real estate on condition of taking care of the estate and possibly paying a small rent) -job (preferably a state job in order to enable exploitation) -education -debt moratorium -universal basic income Optional: parataxonomism (intensive training of people in particular field of knowledge, making them specialists) -tax exclusion

The Land We Live in - The Land We Left Behind  

Studio Project, SS 2018, CMT Studio, Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna

The Land We Live in - The Land We Left Behind  

Studio Project, SS 2018, CMT Studio, Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna