Gathered Idiolectics of Palermo: Situated Practices and Spatial Politics

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract / Description of output

This paper will present la Vucciria, one of the ancient market districts of Palermo, as means to discuss how idiolectic expressions contribute towards “sociolectic” public space. La Vucciria—meaning ‘confusion’ in Sicilian and deriving from the French la boucherie, for the butchers who were the original market’s occupants—already speaks of the layered idiolectic specificities of this situation. Much-destroyed by bombing in World War II and an earthquake in 1968, contemporary developers, with the support of public officials, have recently purchased a series of palaces in the district and plan to rebuild these as luxury apartments. However, the proposals have stalled in the face of threats from the mafia and local squatters and activists. The area is, therefore, caught within various crises of collective-life: architecture, conservation, illegal interests and varied forces of gentrification and globalisation. The paper will give an account of Palermo and la Vucciria comprising three different idiolectic cultural outputs, each of which express something of a relation between politics, language and spatiality. It will open with an imaginary of Palermo, La Vucciria (1974), presented through a painting by Renato Guttuso, an artist who worked in the city alongside notable Sicilian intellectuals and anti-fascist activists, including poet Ignazio Buttitta. It will zoom into the urban “miniature” of ZEN, a housing scheme in northern Palermo designed by Vittorio Gregotti in 1969, discussed here in light of Gregotti’s description of the city as “a corpus formed through the succession of its reinterpretations, with its own diachronic and structural installation rules.” It will weave through the various political interests in la Vucciria through the intertextuality of contemporary performance artist Uwe Jäntsch.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 22 Nov 2019
EventAHRA International Conference: Architecture and Collective Life - University of Dundee, Dundee, United Kingdom
Duration: 21 Nov 201923 Nov 2019


ConferenceAHRA International Conference: Architecture and Collective Life
Abbreviated titleAHRA 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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