SOUNDWALK COLLECTIVE, ULYSSES SYNDROME. MANIFESTA 12 PALERMO

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Location: Ex Oratorio di Santa Maria delle Grazie | Palermo, Italy
Year: 2018
Type: Exhibition
With: Massimo Torrigiani (curator)

The second collaboration with Soundwalk Collective: a soundscape of the Mediterranean exhibited during Manifesta 12 in Palermo.

Part of the official programme of collateral events at Manifesta 12 Palermo, Ulyssees Syndrome by Soundwalk Collective is an exhibition produced by Fantom, curated by Massimo Torrigiani, designed by Luca Cipelletti, carried out with the support of the French Embassy in Italy, the Institut français, La Francia in Scena – Artistic season of the Institut français Italia, the Fondazione Nuovi Mecenati – French-Italian Foundation for the support of contemporary arts, and with the patronage of “Italy, Cultures, the Mediterranean”, a project by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

A soundscape of the Mediterranean basin, pieced together by retracing Ulysses’ voyage from Troy to Ithaca. A vast array of fragments songs harmonies: a choir, an audible entropy.
Sailing for over two months along the coasts of the Middle East, Italy, Northern Africa and Southern Europe, equipped with scanners, aerial antennae and recorders, a technologically advanced, augmented hearing, Soundwalk Collective intercepted the accidental overlapping of noises, music and voices, private conversations and public announcements, bouncing back and forth between boats, ships and the coast.
They listened to these recordings again in their studio, in order to grasp the sense of each sound, of each trace, of each diaphony: hints of stories, slices of worlds, letting themselves be guided through what turned out to be an état des lieux of the Mediterranean basin.
The result is a musical map in continuous rearrangement, a polyphonic installation, the reflection of a sound archive.

In Palermo, this symphonic drift of the Mediterranean basin is housed in the former Oratorio di Santa Maria del Sabato, whose walls echo with just as many vicissitudes of its own. The choral dimension of the oratory is amplified by the exhibition layout, which welcomes the visitors into a dense, suspended dimension, one almost too dim to see through, making it akin to nocturnal sailing, overhearing the sea.
Located in Vicolo Meschita (“Alley of the Mosque”) in the ancient Jewish quarter of the city, after the exodus of the Jews in the late 15th century, the oratory became the site of a succession of Catholic congregations, up to its closure ten years ago.
On this occasion, with Ulysses Syndrome and Manifesta, it returns to life, with the echo of the Odyssey, that of all odysseys. The event also announces its imminent new lease of life as a synagogue, thanks to its recent assignment to the Jewish community of the city by the Archbishop of Palermo.
The inaugural date of the exhibition harbours further resonance. 16th June is the day in which, in 1904, Joyce’s Ulysses took place. The recurrence is known as “Bloomsday”, and is the date on which the Irish poet – one of the spiritual guides of this artwork – is celebrated, and whom we also celebrate here.