Palermo was once a city of pomp, performance and pageantry, today, palazzi are in ruins and the historic city a territory of abandonment. This aggravated situation has led to illicit re-appropriations, exposing cultural fractures in the city and encouraging a new era of affective theatricality. Performing La Vucciria explores this shifting landscape; re-figuring performative urban practices as means of reflecting the (lost) landscape of Palermo and proposing new techniques for working in and on the city. It takes papyrus as material, and layering and folding as process to develop an institution for Television and Radio Broadcast within La Vucciria that provides a platform for emerging creative practices.
Performative architectures are developed that re-figure classical notions of publicity and privacy, and subsequently performer and spectator. Stages, screens and theatre boxes invert piazza and palazzo, turning grand interiors of public palazzos into spaces in which new publicity is performed.
Large expanses of housing on the periphery of Palermo are over-occupied whilst the historic centre lies derelict and uninhabitable. The project acknowledges the city is not a stable field, and has limited resources. It takes the city’s most abundant field conditions, the piazza and palazzo, as sites to be re-figured so wider areas of the city might be re-shaped, repaired and reoccupied. The project looks at one instance of this reconstructive gesture.
Performative masks function across scales, making them applicable to further sites across the city. They carry a political statement that questions the false promises of the state hiding behind their ‘masks’; meshed components contribute structurally and environmentally, allowing the existing infrastructure on site to be re-inhabited. The fragmented nature of the architecture, in keeping with the urban condition of Palermo, allows for parts and components to be transferrable and adaptable for the evolving city.