I dreamed that, next to our world, there was another one and these two worlds were joined by a bridge. Immediately after crossing the bridge, we were invited to get rid of our clothes and hang them on the appropriate hangers. Above them there was a sign with this message: “Before entering the new world, please leave your ego here!”[1]

Drawing to its end, concurrently with the closure of Manifesta 12, the Liminaria research project investigates on sound and new technologies for the activation of an interaction process between territories, landscapes and local communities. The project designed by Leandro Pisano and Beatrice Ferrara, after five years of implementation, chooses the city of Palermo to join the Manifesta 12 Collateral Events, hosted at the Kaoz premises thanks to the cooperation with DimoraOZ, concluding with a very busy calendar of talks, presentations, performances and residencies. The project evolves around the need to establish a linkage to the local area, attempting a review that considers the possibilities offered by sound and its aesthetic practices, aiming to enact a criticisms’ domain and to question the sense of belonging to the territory itself.

In this sense, sound and digital media become part of a process in which collaboration, participation and interaction can redefine creative practices into social actions. Liminaria (from a conceptual framework linked to cultural and postcolonial studies) has gifted Palermo with a cross-sectional understanding of urban areas that although absorbed by the expansion process yet maintain minor rural features, preserving the history of a peasant Palermo made of magical contradictions, poetic memories, beliefs and cultural stratifications. The curators identify the city districts of Brancaccio and Ciaculli for their significant historic narrative. A week of Residencies involved local and international artists of utmost quality, including the group Canecapovolto from Catania established in 1992, with its long research activity that ranges from sound to video and the multiple relations among audience and artwork. Also the founders of the school FuoriNorma deepen the investigation on audio and video media means. Accordingly, their courses promote an experimental management methodology about artistic practices for production, dissemination and communication.

Alessandra Eramo is an artist, singer and composer that applies performative methods using voice, sound and body means to tackle concepts such as memory and identity. The voice thus becomes ground for experiments, able to evoke submerged memories and allows sound and multimedia structures to merge with the epidermal ones. Fernando Godoy is an artist who lives and works in Valparaíso Chile, he adopts different means of communication for his research on Sound as a social and natural phenomenon, starting from the relationship between the population and the sound fabric of belonging. Producer and director since 2008 of the Tsonami Sound-Arts Festival, a dissemination and development platform of contemporary good-practices in Chile.

The VacuaMoenia project was launched in 2013 by Pietro Bonanno and Fabio R. Lattuca, both born and active in Palermo, adopting a specific field recording technique their research focuses on rural villages built in Sicily during the Fascist time, as included by the Colonisation Framework of rural areas, actually soon abandoned or never inhabited. The Archive collects sound tracks, historical and photographic fact sheets, maps and projects related to time and space (also through installation practices and soundwalks), so to recompose a memoir puzzle that grants the return of folk and political tales of these nowadays almost forgotten places.

David Velez is an audio, video and performative artist born in Bogotá, Colombia. His work focuses on a number of issues concerning the conflictual relation between our living, time and the way it is perceived. Temporality is considered an interstitial element that is likely to be shaped, therefore conceptually its dilatation or shrinking and how in a collective or individual way the immeasurable variation possibilities can create a permeance of continuous mutation between the artistic process and the interlocutor.

In its fugacity and its materiality, sound invites us to record and experience rural areas, abandoned places and urban suburbs, as where to question our approach to history and landscape, our sense of inhabiting a territory and the relationship we have to it.[2]

Liminaria adopts sound as a system to start a storytelling process of places and relationships, creating experiential mappings. All projects realised during the Residencies share the strong need of creating connections between the physical locations and the communities living there. Sound Art practices can generate unforeseen relational and epistemological cartographies, developing “social consciousness”[3], writes Leandro Pisano, and this is what actually happens in the performance realised for the Residence by the South American artists Fernando Godoy and David Velez. Un giro con Totò e Mario (A tour with Totò and Mario) retraces the journey, sitting in a public bus, from the suburban district of Brancaccio to the central station of Palermo and then, by walk, to Kaoz.

This crossing, both physical and sound related, allows the activation of a process made of relations between the place, the people who live there and the audience. Through Fernando and David’s sound instrument, a splendid simplicity cancels the temporal and physical space overcoming the inevitable linguistic challenges and it is immediately creating a relationship with the local communities. The streaming allows a real sound-tour, the narrative voice of a resident of Brancaccio tells the memories of an ancient Palermo, blending with the sounds and noises of a bus and the surrounding environment. The experience of this work ends with the arrival of the narrator and the artists at Kaoz, surprising the audience and finally remove physical distances.

CaneCapovolto also presents a tour, with Nemico interno(Interior Enemy), through a dreamlike format adaptable to any city. Following the directions of a guiding voice using headphones, the participant is led in a transcendent journey through the urban city fabric where all events or random elements intersect with the inputs suggested by the guiding voice. The project is inspired by the novel The Croquet Player by H.G. Wells, it considers how listening or precise indications can change the vision of a place both known and unknown. Playing on cognitive discordances, time and space are altered and evoke in users’ mind an indefinite time, that has no location and therefore adapts to any place and any time.

The topic of interstices keeps a strong bond to the temporal dimension as rather a priority, from those everyday life phenomena defined as first level interstices, those occurring at intermediate experiences, at in-between or en-tre-deux, in terms not only of time but also of space and – overall – of communication.[4]

Being provocative but never trivial, CaneCapovolto also reflects on those cultural standardisation practices that through pre-constructed structures impose a specific fruition slant. VacuaMoenia instead, since years leading a transversal research combining studies on Soundscape with those related to the changes in Sicilian rural life, introduces at Kaoz three boxes with three one-minute audio loops each that picture Tenuta Favarella in the Ciaculli area by listening to three different types of micro soundscapes. The Greco’s crime family estate expanding over 45 hectares was seized, nowadays in a recovery stage and soon to be returned to the municipality.

In One endless minutethree looped tapes are playing on old walkmans that will start to slow down and lower their tone as batteries discharge until switching off. This way, a threefold crystallised idea that is cancrised and set in time, begins to deteriorate till its total dissolution telling of a process that leads the place’s narration to fade into silence. At different moments of the installation the listener’s headphones will also play different soundscapes as modified by the deterioration of the device itself, thereupon opening a reflection on sound variables induced by physics of devices.

 Maybe we should assert that the essential matter of music is listening.[5]

A stratification of elements illustrates a constantly changing site, a slow and imperceptible transformation that yet preserves the history, social and geographical structures of places almost forgotten by citizenship. A sort of “Warburghian” practice that collects and repeats elements to create a constantly changing sound image that is subject to endless narratives and combinations.

Alessandra Eramo instead, performs an introspective exercise on the basis of an urban legend story referring to the Brancaccio neighbourhood: A YouTube video watched by the artist sees a child telling of a meteorite falling onto the neighbourhood. From this input, Alessandra builds up an absolutely visionary narrative, removing the line between reality and imagination. During the performance the artist, in the act of reading a story, is overlapping expression media like writing, singing, sound and recording to allow the audience a full-immersion into a sort of surreal world.

Un Meteorite si scaglia su Brancaccio

una bambina lo trova in un campo di cemento

tra i palazzoni di cemento


come il vento

che viene e che va

il rombo

come un motorinocheviene e cheva…[6]

It’s the deafening sound of motorbikes incessantly riding on the streets of Brancaccio and the voice of a child reading the words authored by the artist Alessandra Eramo, that pushes the viewer into a submerged world made up of ancient popular traditions, rituals and magic, while conferring a genuine and primordial respect and credibility. In a kind of ritual process, quoting V. Turner, the artist proposes seven possible sounds of the meteorite that, in the performative act, is thrown onto Kaoz. The transition from one social status to another is often accompanied by a parallel passage in space, a geographic shift from one place to another[7], says Turner, and it is precisely this ritual action that nullifies that liminal space between a popular neighbourhood with its beliefs and an exhibition space with its activities. Now the meteorite is no longer a popular legend but a special event that earns a common ritual value.

Besides the Residency projects, a dense number of meetings and presentations of highest depth followed. Sguardi Urbani (Urban Gazes) is a project curated by Luisa Tuttolomondo, Angela Solaro and Marco Mondino, titled Le mille e una Palermo (The Thousand and One Palermo), that with the aid of a downloadable app retraces the routes of the Arab-Norman Palermo through the five senses. Nicola Di Croce introduces his text Suoni al margine (Sounds at the edge).

La territorialità delle politiche nella pratica dell’ascolto (The territorial nature of policies in the listening practice) published by Meltemi, considers those particular transformations that are linked to collective phenomena such as depopulation, gentrification, tourism, disappearance of local identities and intangible cultural heritage. An open debate focused on the themes of Sound as a flow: between Ethnomusicology, Sound Art, Soundscape sees the comparison between the public and the individual research experiences of personalities such as Alessandra Ciucci (Columbia University, New York) that since many years focuses her investigation on music, sound, and rurality within Moroccan migration in Umbria.

Andrea Laquidara (University of Urbino) offers a reflection on the introduction of sound within the cinematographic image, while Anna Cestelli Guidi (Auditorium – Fondazione Musica per Roma) focuses on the importance of sound reproduction venues and Sound Experiences at the Rome Auditorium. Brilliant is the movie by Angus Carlyle Zawawa: Sounds of Wind in the Sugar Cane, a powerful reflection on memorial sound. Zawawa is the word used by the citizens of Okinawa to indicate the sound of a sugar cane moving in the wind, a sound that evokes in island inhabitants’ minds the war of the Pacific and its post-war consequences.

The movie is the result of a ten-year collaboration between the anthropologist Rupert Cox, the acoustic scientist Kozo Hiramatsu and the sound artist Angus Carlyle, addressing their research on the harmful effects on health and environment caused by the exposure to noise pollution of US military jets on the island of Okinawa. This because the sound of the jets cannot be contained within the boundaries of the military bases and of flight paths these originate from, but like all sounds these move and settle in listeners’ bodies recalling the painful memory of the war, ripping an unhealed wound and changing completely the city soundscape. As A. Carlyle says Sound is migratory. It lies on the spot even after it has passed by, highlighting the daily sound emergency that the population and the environment of Okinawa is subject to; an emergency that is invisible to the eye but that permeates in a latent and constant way within the surrounding environment and in societies, with enormous damage to the social and natural structures.

Also Yukiko Shikata (Curator/Visiting Professor at Tama Art University, Tokyo Zokei University) is attentive to those ecological disasters that have been profoundly changing some areas of Japan. The major earthquake in eastern Japan, followed by the tsunami and the accident at the Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant, were such incisive events to raise a question: How did the Japanese accept modernisation? Shikata proposes a reflection on those liminal places competing between nature and technological progress, in line with his recent research on Border Studies tackling fields of media art, natural and social sciences. Finally, at Kaoz was also set up Interferenze (Interferences), an exhibition tracing the context-specific projects implemented in rural areas of southern Italy by the invited artists-in-residence over the past 15 years. The path going from Irpinia to Sannio, from Cilento to Fortore Benevento, creates an invisible sound map out of voices, sites and landscapes.

Liminaria ends by keeping open a follow-up approach that concerns not only sector specific professionals as it relates to topics that include models of reviewing the world, that acknowledge about tools to critically dismantle those pre-established memories and thus, to activate a virtuous process of interaction between communities.


[1] B. Benson, Tashi il bambino che salverà il mondo. Rizzoli, 1990, p. 7

[2] L. Pisano, Percorsi sonori in Europa: cartografie critiche dell’ascolto, p.180. Extract from: I. Chambers, L. Curti e M. Quadraro,Ritorni critici. La sfida degli studi culturali e postcoloniali, Meltemi, 2018.

[3] Ibidem, p.181

[4] G. Gasparini, Interstizi e universi paralleli, Apogeo, 2007, p. 31.

[5] G. Böhme, Acoustic Atmosphere: A Contribution to the Study of Ecological Aesthetics, p.111. Extract of: Ecologia della musica. Saggi sul paesaggio sonoro,A, Colimberti, Donzelli Editore, 2004.

[6]  Text by Eramo A., courtesy of the Artist.

[7] V. Turner, From Ritual to Theatre: The Human Seriousness of Play, PAJ Publications, 1982,p.56.


Agamben, La comunità che viene, Bollati Boringhieri, 2001

Benson, Tashi il bambino che salverà il mondo, Rizzoli, 1990

Calvi, Paracarri: cronache da un’Italia che nessuno racconta, Rubbettino, 2015

Colimberti, Ecologia della musica. Saggi sul paesaggio sonoro, Donzelli Editore, 2004

Chambers, L. Curti e M. Quadraro, Ritorni critici. La sfida degli studi culturali e postcoloniali, Meltemi, 2018

Chambers, L. Curti, La questione postcoloniale: cieli comuni, orizzonti divisi, Liguori Editore, 1997

Didi-Huberman, Immagini malgrado tutto, Editore Cortina Raffaello, 2005

Gasparini, Interstizi e universi paralleli, Apogeo, 2007

Godoy, C. Galarce, TSONAMI – memoria 10 anos, Tsonami Ediciones, 500 copies, 2017

Pisano, Nuove geografie del suono. Spazi e territori nell’epoca postdigitale, Meltemi Linee, 2017

Turner, Dal rito al teatro, Intersezioni, 1982

Warburg,Atlas Mnemosyne / Mnemosyne Atlas, Ediciones Akal Sa, 2010

Translation by Luisa Ardizzone, 2018