There is a clear definition of modernism in architecture and a clear understanding of who belongs to its protagonists and in which geographies. The many iterations of modernity in the architectures of the South, however, are slow in the process of formulating their consistent histories of development, taking into account not only the esthetic and formal language of a style but the local political, social and economic context that allowed, defined, propelled or limited specific design and construction typologies.
In Sicily, the postwar period was the last era of substantial prosperity, defined also by a private building boom and considerable investment into public infrastructure. The lack of knowledge and a cohesive narration of this period was the starting point of the architecture festival “After History, Afterlife,” which used architecture as a lens with which to re-read the architectural landscape and party (re-)construct the missing storytelling in the timeframe from 1922 to 2022. The works on show document, contextualise, question and contest the simplistic paradigm of an underdeveloped southern region, proposing viewpoints that allow excellence, abandonment, failure, success, experimentation and folly to coexist in the weaving of a complex, contemporary history, and thus also identity.
In April 2023, the festival crossed the island from the north-west towards the south-east, making halt in Palermo, Gibellina, Salemi, Castellammare del Golfo, Himera, Cefalù, Gibilmanna, Gela, Augusta, Borgo Rizza, Catania and Librino, crossing a landscape as diverse as a continent and exploring critical architectural phenomena by architects such as Giuseppe and Alberto Samonà, Vittorio Gregotti, Giacomo Leone, Franco Minissi and many others.
The reflections and interpretations offered here by the researchers, artists and architects Alba Balmaseda, Elena Catalano, Dario Di Liberti, Pietro Librizzi, Alessandro Iannello and Beatrice Utano – selected for a small research grant to follow all stages of the festival – are a direct outcome of the festival and commentary on one or multiple themes we tried to raise. Furthermore, the photographer Giovanna Silva extended her research of Palermo to all of Sicily, exhibited here in a first preview.
Before the opening, at 4:00 p.m. Izabela Moren and Pietro Airoldi, curators of the exhibition and part of the :AFTER team, will dialogue with Michael Obrist, architect and member of the architecture firm feld72.
The exhibition is part of the project “:AFTER. After History, Afterlife.”, which was held in the form of a festival in 11 locations in Sicily in April 2023.
“:AFTER. After History, Afterlife.” is curated by Pietro Airoldi, Lisa Andreani, Jacopo Costanzo (WAR), Zeno Franchini (LOTS/Marginal), Francesca Gattello (LOTS/Marginal), Valeria Guerrisi, Izabela Anna Moren (FSR).
Project realized by: Fondazione Studio Rizoma
In cooperation with: University of Palermo, University of Basel, Genìa, Housing and Design / Tu Wien, Viaraffineria, NEW: Palermo Order, Italia Nostra Patronage, Ortigia Sound System, Royal Institute of Art – Kungl. Konsthogskolan, Fondazione Ordine Architetti, Fondazione Sicilia, Libero Osservatorio Territoriale Sud.
The project is the winner of the public call for proposals “Festival Architecture – 2nd Edition” promoted by the General Directorate for Contemporary Creativity of the Ministry of Culture.