Saturday, 30 March 2019

Palermo (After!)

Our initial proposal for the project in Palermo stemmed from an anniversary parade that we had organised for Limbo in summer 2016. Limbo is a space that we started in 2015 in London, as a facility to practice collaborative and overlapping ways of working, whilst both studying at Slade, where the modes of working could lean towards being individualised. In full circle the activity at Limbo filtered back into our individual practices, in terms of starting to not be able to understand making work outside a tangle of collaborative activity, whilst igniting a continued interest in space making, and how these spaces have the ability catalyse and propel. Limbo is still rolling now, although we are not directly involved, and seems like it might eternally maintain itself as a space for students to unpack. The parade in 2016 was an opportunity to celebrate the group that that gathered around the space over that first year, and weaved from the unit on Old Kent Road into Burgess Park.

Although not having the opportunity to re-orchestrate these parades, it became an activity we referred back to a lot in future activities, as a modular structure that easily invited participation. In early thoughts for Palermo we were considering using this format, as a way to traverse the locations that Manifesta was situated at, to spend time in public spaces as a way of understanding place, and to have some sort of flexible spinal structure that as many groups from Palermo could use as collective support and move through the streets together. Limbo was on the ground floor and open to the street. As we went through the summer this year (2018) we began putting together live broadcast activities in Barcelona, as an opportunity to bring together theatre groups, artists, musicians in the city, with an understanding of loose scripts, and multiple bodged filming and broadcast techniques, using a mash of easily acquirable and plastic technology, these events providing an opportunity for wide groups to push in a similar direction, whilst boosting an off-spin of writing, props, devices, communication, meetings. 

We started to understand these tests with live broadcast working in tangent with the format of parade, beginning to look towards the communication towers that overlook Palermo from the Pellegrino mountain, and contacting the Bici Tuning crew, a group that build and ride custom soundsystem bicycles in the city. We had previously been involved in the early stages of a bicycle sound-system free-rental system in London, with a focus on the necessity for accessible amplification. As the Palermo project got closer, and something that we hadn't considered.. but it became clear that we had the opportunity to occupy a space for our time in the city. This space shifted a few times, and our ideas fluctuated alongside these movements, until we landed on Via Roma 206, an empty shop space on the main commercial street in the city. At this point our thinking doubled backward through the parade (as a celebration of space-making), but into the root potential of being able to open a space in Palermo. The project was always a porous and responsive activity, as much as we could research in the lead up, we understood that we would only understand what and how we wanted to push, when we arrived. We travelled by car from Barcelona, via Sardinia on the ferry, the car full of equipment that we were expecting to use throughout the month, giving the opportunity to reset internal tempos in anticipation of adopting the rhythms of a new city.

We arrived in Palermo in the final month of Manifesta, the city was chewing on the summers activity and influxes. Many spaces across the city had been opened up, and questions were starting to turn to their use after Manifesta left the city, whether their use could be sustained, how things could roll after. At Via Roma 206 we initiated a particular recycling + broadcast plant (rampicante) that tried to understand matter (acting as a decomposer), and how to process it altogether. It incorporated various activities in celebration of fully tangled conglomerate outputs, which occupied a multitude of different dispersal / communication techniques, including.. film making, film screenings, paper / poster making, filtration systems, live broadcasts, music events, maquettes to model forecasting and currents, loose scripts for theatre, solar radio systems.. taking ideas from waste management chains that process matter, to figure out different communication tools (and the loss that occurs in the widest sense of translation).

We had two workshops operating simultaneously at the space. Upstairs was a recycling plant focused on making posters. The posters were made from a pulp of blended paper, left-over from different organisations based in Palermo: cards, wraps and all kinds of printed information (that might inform about the current concurrences in town) were added to the mix, along with discards/detritus found around the streets and squares, small solar powered radio systems (opening FM wavelengths in fluctuation with sunlight) and germinating seeds. The compression of these into paper created inadvertent archives of activity both internal and external to the facility. Various parameters recreated air and underwater currents, and other alterations in flow and direction. Filtration systems operate in tangent with this pool, and various sieves were used to produce the paper. They were distributed to public spaces across the city and disseminated online, to announce the facility's activity and invite participation.

Downstairs was a cinema which hosted film screenings in the form of a perennial moving image playlist, in accumulation throughout our time there. A permanently open - open call - initially stemming from artists and filmmakers in Palermo, Barcelona, London, was announced via various communication methods, including the posters. The cinema celebrated it’s existence every Sunday (MOSTRA) at 20.00 with a presentations of particular films, in appreciation of the difference of things occupying space together.