This event is part of
Between Land and Sea
26 May 2024, Opening: 11.00
Museo Civico di Castelbuono

On 31 December 1944, a group of revolutionaries led by Giacomo Petrotta proclaimed the Repubblica Popolare Contadina of Piana Degli Albanesi. They rebelled against the mismanagement of agricultural crops by an alliance of large landowners and political elites that left the population starving. Almost 80 years later, the visual artist Genny Petrotta, grandniece of the rebel leader, together with a group of young people from her hometown, revisits the struggle of the peasant republic that lasted fifty days until it was crushed by the police. “Mamma Perdonami / Mëme më fal” is a poetic reappropriation of a political legacy that was silenced for a long time after traumatic events. 

It was a time of great upheaval when a group of young people from Piana degli Albanesi decided to embark on a utopia and to make things radically different. Their revolt was directed against the political elites – the former fascists as well as the communist leaders – and the big landowners. It arose from the necessity to stand in solidarity with the poorest, with those who suffered from hunger, the small farmers and harvest workers. It was fuelled by the refusal of young people to continue participating in a war that had already cost them too many sacrifices. 

When Genny Petrotta began to talk to her relatives and neighbours about the Peasants’ Republic, many more gaps than detailed reports came to light. Even in the testimony of her great-uncle Giacomo, which Angela Lanza had recorded in a book, there was hardly anything to be learnt about the fifty days of the republic. In detail, he described the traumatic end: when over 2,000 soldiers occupied the small town, when they arrested the leaders and brutally tortured them for ten days. 

According to Giacomo Petrotta’s testimony a theatre play was performed during those days that told the story of the young autonomous republic. But the text is missing. “Mamma Perdonami / Mëma më fal” is a poetic re-enactment of the lost theatre piece. Together with a group of artists and young people from her hometown, Genny Petrotta has created the scenography and costumes, and prepared the staging. Her work mobilises the strong cultural identity of her hometown that was founded more than 500 years ago by an arbëreshë community that has preserved its language and some ancient traditions to this day. In writing the text in arbëreshë language, she is accompanied by the poet and linguist Giuseppe Schirò di Modica. The work results in a video installation and a book, with which she reappropriates the political and cultural heritage of her home town and contributes to its preservation. 

Genny Petrotta (1990) is an Italian artist based in Palermo. Her artistic practice focuses on video installation and seeks to sublimate a wide range of interests, from anthropology to philosophy and history. She graduated in Disciplines of the Arts and Cinema at the D.A.M.S. University in Palermo with a thesis on Werner Herzog. Since 2016, she has been a member of the art collective Il Pavone and has exhibited at various festivals and exhibitions. Since 2017, she has worked as an assistant director for the artistic duo MASBEDO. In 2022 she directed the production of the works “U Scantu” by Elisa Giardina Papa presented at the 59° Biennale di Venezia and “Alkestys” by Beatrice Gibson presented at the British Art Show. In 2023, she won the twelfth edition of the Italian Council with the project “Mamma Perdonami” and “The Residency on the Road” 2023 Production Fellowship, hosted by Autostrada Biennale.

Artist: Genny Petrotta | Curator: Eva-Maria Bertschy | Choreographer and performer: Gloria Dorliguzzo | Music and sound design: Angelo Sicurella | Director, Cinematography, script and editing: Genny Petrotta | Additional Cinematography: Nick Gordon I Sculptors: Francesco Albano and Simone Zanaglia |  Painter: Giuseppe Borgia | Scenography: Cesare Inzerillo | Costumes: Gabriele Petta  |  Voice over: Genny Petrotta, Giusi Maria Puglia, Nino Mandalà, Saverio Guzzetta, Maria Giuseppa Gioè I Sound recordist: Giuseppe Tripodi | Sound design, mix and mastering: Philippe Ciompi | Color correction: Giuseppe Petruzzellis | Editing assistant: Naomi Kikuchi | Project Management: Giorgio Mega | Unit manager: Francesco di Gesù | Assistant production: Nino Mandalà | Translation supervision: Giuseppe Schirò Di Modica  | Film printing and development: Augustus Color |  Recording and editing audio at Limone Lunare Studio | Technical service: Sinergie Group

With the students of ICS SKANDERBEG, Class II and III of Piana degli Albanesi Secondary School and Luna Marie Brancaccio Ratthei.

Featuring singer : Fromba Krasniqi | Plis production: Ergyle Gjurgjialo | Filigree Masters: Faik Bamja | Bashkim Tejeci, Xhafer Lushaj, Fatime Baruti.

Special thanks to: Giovanna Renda, Enza Di Vincenzo, Sebastiano Petrotta, Giuseppe Raccuglia, Giuseppina Vasotti, Elvis & Gjulian Bytyqi, Jeton Jagxhiu, Maria Petrotta, Antonella Caradonna, Giusi Li Cauli, Giorgio Fusco, Stefania Artusi, Nino Brancaccio, Marika Ratthei, Beatrice Gibson, Elena Castiglia, Giuseppe Mizzi, Chiara Scalia, Vito Mandalà, Giuseppe Stassi, Papas Lifteri, Minichelli, Antenna, Luna e Annabell, IL PAVONE, Associazione Bashkë, Studio Guai s.r.l.s

The project is produced by Fondazione Studio Rizoma in co-production with Autostrada Biennale Prizren. In collaboration with Museo Civico di Castelbuono, Genía Lab Art Palermo, Postane Istanbul, Inland Madrid, Museo delle Civiltà Roma and European Alternatives Paris. 

The project is supported by the Directorate-General for Contemporary Creativity of the Italian Ministry of Culture under the Italian Council program (12th edition, 2023), which aims to promote Italian contemporary art worldwide.

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