Palermo, the Italian Capital of Culture for 2018, also hosts the twelfth nomade biennial of contemporary art Manifesta. From June 16 to November 4, Manifesta is entitled The Planetary Garden. Cultivate coexistence.
The event is inspired by the French landscape designer Gilles Clément and develops in twenty spaces often open for the first time to the public, scattered throughout the city, including the indispensable Botanical Garden. Over 50 installations, performances and urban interventions that respond to the most urgent problems of the present time, such as migration and climate change.
Among the co-curators, the Sicilian architect and partner of OMA Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli, who highlights the need for a critical understanding of the stratified nature of the city. This is why he led Palermo Atlas, a pre-Biennial survey in collaboration with the citizens of Palermo.
Among the most evocative works: Theater of the Sun, by Fallen Fruit, invites you to re-imagine public spaces through the Public Fruit Map, a map of fruit trees. It is located in the historic Palazzo Butera, aristocratic home of the Branciforte that has reopened its doors despite the ongoing restoration.
A Palazzo Forcella De Seta, sumptuous living room of the Belle Époque, is The Soul of Salt is a salt mountain artist Patricia Kaersenhout, that unites the drama of the Atlantic slave trade to the current refugee crisis. The Festino della Terra performance by the Nigerian artist Jelili Atiku refers to the procession of Santa Rosalia, to the archetypal sculpture of the Green Man, to the myths of the Yoruba culture.
Among the numerous collateral events not to be missed: The Ulisse’s Soundwalk Collective Syndrome at the Oratorio di Santa Maria del Sabato, curated by Massimo Torrigiani with the installation of Luca Cipelletti, is an installation of sounds and lights that tells the charm and the drama of the Mediterranean. Francesco Pantaleone, one of the best known and most active palermitans in the international contemporary art scene, hosts the solo show of Carlos Garaicoa in his FPAC gallery, as well as being the promoter of the exhibition by Per Barclay at the Cavallerizza Palazzo Mazzarino.
Palermo is a historic city of rare architectural beauty.
Arab-Norman monuments, 18th-century palaces, baroque churches and Liberty villas that live together in an abandoned urban center for decades are finally the subject of important redevelopment projects.
An example of this is the restoration of the sixteenth-century Palazzo Branciforte, restored by Gae Aulenti and reopened in 2012. It demonstrates how past and innovation can coexist without distorting the identity of a place. Today it is home to the historic Library of the Sicily Foundation, known for the fresco by Ignazio Moncada of Paternò, while the wooden architectural structure of the Monte di Santa Rosalia hosts temporary art exhibitions.
Modern contamination also in the sixteenth century environments of the Regional Gallery of Palazzo Abatellis, with a museographic project curated by Carlo Scarpa in 1953 and important works such as the Annunciata by Antonello da Messina and the bust of Eleonora d’Aragona by Francesco Laurana.
Among the most recent recovery projects: the Italo Rota Foro Italico, which hybridises public space, land art and urban installation connecting the historic center and the sea, and the Cala port converted into a center of urban aggregation by the architects Sebastiano Provenzano and Giulia Argiroffi.
The headquarters of La Rinascente, designed by Flavio Albanese in 2010, is a white monolith with an opalescent façade that fits into the surrounding Baroque space, integrating the pre-existent building of the 70’s. Lastly, the area of Pizzo Sella, symbol of the boom building of the fifties, is at the center of the intervention signed by the Belgians Rotor, one of the most interesting architecture studies of the moment, for Manifesta. From the past to the present without interruption.
Design and creativity side, Palermo offers different realities and points of view. This is the case of the Milanese Raffaella Guidobono who, with her design studio Leftover, has chosen this city since 2008. Some of her pieces can be found at the Botanical Garden as part of the Radiceterna project, a collateral event by Manifesta, but also in the bookstore for children Dudi.
Among the realities of Palermo, we must mention the design studio and production workshop Edizioni Precarie, born in 2013 from an idea by Carmela Dacchille. Started with the Letter Food Papers, it has established itself as a think tank for young designers, illustrators, graphic designers and photographers.