SUMMIT: ‘Uncertain Environments’

This event is part of
Between Land and Sea
Project
BLAS Festival
When
7—9 June 2024,
Where
Piazza Due Palme, Piazza Mediterraneo, Danisinni

After a period of apparent stability, we have realized in recent years that the environments in which we do our work and live will continue to become more unstable in the future. Climate change, as well as political and economic developments, point to major changes that are currently almost impossible to predict. But what does it mean for our work and efforts if future changes become unpredictable? While the experience of uncertainty is new to many people, others have long lived and worked in unstable terrain-environments shaped by conflict, displacement, impunity, inflation, corruption, precarity, and ecological disasters. However, contexts of uncertainty also allow for experiences and developments in which people break free from repressive structures and become more autonomous.

Fondazione Studio Rizoma and its partner institutions Autostrada Biennale (Prizren), Inland (Spain), Postane (Istanbul), Recyclart (Brussels), Arci Porco Rosso, and Aterraterra (Palermo) invite curators, artists, activist and researchers to reflect on their strategies for dealing with uncertainty in their work. What can we do to better understand obscure and confusing social and cultural contexts? How can we trust unpredictable development? How can we work toward a goal whose realization is difficult to predict? How can we respond meaningfully to the unexpected?

They discuss their approaches to the invisible, the insecure and the unpredictable, to ambiguities and contradictions. Their accounts testify to radical historical upheavals but also to continuity, a continuity that brings with it repressive structures but also stability and security.

The meetings will take place in various locations around the city. The same setting frames the talks, but in different settings with their own details and atmospheres beautiful or not. Noises, unexpected interjections, weather conditions and other unpredictability will accompany the meetings.

THE PROGRAMME:

Friday, 7 June, PIAZZA DUE PALME 

19:00—20:15 ambiente#1 – colonial residues (ITA)
co-curated by Aterraterra, with Francesca Di Pasquale, historian (Palermo), Ariam Tekle, filmmaker and producer (Milano) and and Wissal Houbabi, activist, artist and writer (Bologna)

The colonial legacy and its impact on current relations between Europe and the former colonies and the people of African or Asian origin living in Europe went unnoticed for a long time. In recent decades, activist groups, artists and researchers have attempted to lift the veil of opacity that has covered the places of remembrance, the narratives, ideas and prejudices shaped by colonial thinking. In doing so, they are trying to make neo-colonial practices, racism and structural violence visible in order to counter them. 

Saturday, 8 June, PIAZZA MEDITERRANEO

16:30-17:45 ambiente#2 – post-conflict cultures / culture post-conflitto – (ENG / ITA with simultaneous translation)

co-curated by Autostrada, with Leutrim Fishekqiu co-founding director of Autostrada Biennale (Prizren), Kateryna Filyuk, ukrainian curator (Palermo) and Sabino Civilleri, theater actor and director, artistic director of Prima Onda and Metamorfosis festival (Palermo)

In so-called post-conflict areas, state institutions are often very weak and there is little funding and infrastructure for culture or social affairs. Many things are in upheaval, people are trying to create spaces for new ideas, for beauty, art and culture with a lot of initiative and ingenuity, so that they can overcome the wounds of the past. Sometimes they work beyond the attention of those who want to prevent the emergence of cultural and civic awareness and cohesion, sometimes all kinds of obstacles are placed in their way. 

18:0019:15 ambiente#3 – informal settlements (ITA / ENG with simultaneous translation)
co-curated by Arci Porco Rosso, with Abou Bakar Sidibé, filmmaker (Berlin), Giulia Gianguzza, researcher and activist (Palermo), David Yambio, activist (Bologna) and Mustapha Jarjou, activist (Palermo)

In some places, large groups of people gather in search of work, health and security. If neither the state nor the economy provides the means to accommodate these people in decent conditions, informal settlements are built. People can find places of solidarity and community, even if the environment is extremely hostile. In many of these settlements, which are often dismissively called “ghettos”, their inhabitants, activists and humanitarian workers constantly try to improve the living conditions, whilst various actors are trying to prevent any form of political organisation. What does it mean to live and work in a place that should not actually exist?

19:30-20:45 ambiente#4 – handmade connections with LOTTERIA DELLA MANO FORTUNATA / LOTTERY OF THE LUCKY HAND (ITA / ENG with simultaneous translation)
co-curated by Recyclart, with Daï-Linh Nguyên, Oscar Briou and Nora Unger, Recyclart, culture & social economy space (Brussels); Zeno Franchini, Marginal Studio, design and arts collective (Palermo) and others

‘Learning by doing’ is a well-known saying, though it describes only in part what seems to be the most crucial aspect of the methodologies found in construction, design, craftsmanship and other professions that require skills transmitted by hand rather than by mouth. In many contexts, people are excluded because all participation is based on language, whereas manual skill exchange allows for alternative ways of creating expertise and connection, giving value to professionals whose capacities, often linked to tradition and culture, express more accurately through what they make with their hands. Handmade objects by Brussels and Palermo-based makers will be part of a performative lottery. Participate and win, all are welcome!

21:30—22:00 Screening
Campobello – Teaser for a future project, Abou Bakar Sidibé and Eva-Maria Bertschy. With: Yaya Njie / Editing: Tiziano Locci / With contributions by: Giulia Gianguzza (Arci Porco Rosso), Liliana Catanzaro and Daniela Macaluso

Abou Bakar Sidibé became a filmmaker on Mount Gurugu, a so-called “ghetto” at the border fence of Melilla. Or a “fortune camp” as they would name it. In order to continue his documentary investigation into the realities of migrants from West Africa in Europe he is traveling to Campobello di Mazara, where one of the biggest informal settlements of Sicily was evicted in 2023. During the next olive harvest, he will document the realities of the migrant workers who will come back to Campobello in search of work. After his residency during the BLAS festival this year, we present a short teaser of a project in the making. Abou is in conversation with Yaya Njie who used to live in the ghetto of Campobello and is now a peer-to-peer worker at the Sportello Sans-Papiers of Porco Rosso.

22:00—23:30 Screening

‘Les Sauteurs / Those who jump’ – A film by Estephan Wagner, Moritz Siebert and Abou Bakar Sidibé
Presented in collaboration with Corrente

In northern Morocco lies the Spanish enclave of Melilla: Europe on African Land. On the mountain above live over a thousand hopeful African migrants, watching the land border, a fence system separating Morocco and Spain. Abou is one of them – the protagonist in front of the camera, as well as the person behind it. For over a year, he has ceaselessly persisted in attempting to jump the fence. “Les Sauteurs” is a multi-award-winning documentary film – ultimately a film about making a film, is Abou’s portrayal of the human struggle for dignity and freedom on one of the World’s most militarized frontiers.

Sunday, 9 June, DANISINNI 

17:00—18:15 ambiente#5 – tourist economies (ITA / ENG with consecutive translation)
co-curated by Inland, with Paola Palavidi, artist and farmer (Tinos Island), Fernando García Dory (Madrid) and Fausto Melluso (Palermo)

If urban or rural areas are increasingly overrun by tourists every year, they do generate income for many local residents. However, by specialising in the tourist business, many less profitable economic activities are abandoned. More and more food has to be imported, tourists consume or pollute key natural resources and drive up rents. In this context, organisations and activists have decided to cultivate and renew traditional economic activities that are central to the autonomous and sustainable development of the region. They not only bring people income and resilience, but also cultural understanding. 

18:30—19:45 ambiente#6 – resisting gardens (ITA / ENG with consecutive translation)
co-curated by Postane, with Yașar Adnan Adanalı, director of Postane (Istanbul), Danisinni Associazione and Bediz Yılmaz, researcher and activist (Istanbul)

In many cities around the world, places of rurality, gardens, growing areas, have survived. While in a modern view they are often seen as anachronistic and backward places, we are today able to recognise the beauty and purpose of such enclaves. They are preserved from gentrification and touristification because some people have made it their mission to protect them. These places of resistance counter urban pressures with something that is valuable beyond the logic of capitalist investment. Community networks are cultivated, people find cohesion, support and feel more rooted in an environment that sometimes offers them little.

20:00 Cena comunitaria curata da Associazione Insieme per Danisinni 

22:00—23:30 Screening

Alcarràs’ – A film by Carla Simón. Presented by Corrente

Alcarràs is the name of a village in deepest Catalonia, a place where the Solé family lives, which for decades has been farming peaches on land given to them by the wealthy Mr. Pinyol after the Spanish Civil War. And it is of this very land that Pinyol’s descendants decide, out of the blue, to repossess in order to convert it and make way for photovoltaic installations, forcing the entire Solé family to vacate and say goodbye to the rural life to which they are accustomed.

Carla Simon’s film, winner of the Golden Bear at the Berlinale 2022, tells a story that in fact confronts us with the contradictions of contemporary environmental consciousness: on the one hand, progress, the clean energy of solar panels that, however, has a human and social cost; on the other hand, the rural world, of peasant traditions that seem to have become redundant for everyone except the Solé family.

It is no coincidence that the only survivors in this world are them and the laborers who help them with the harvest, almost all of whom are of African descent. As if to emphasize the alienation from the agricultural dimension of the rest of society, all devoted to progress and globalization of markets, which, however, do not take into account the price to be paid.

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