The Sea of Palermo. A Personal View

by Davide Lacagnina

Silence can sometimes be more deafening than the loudest of noises. And many noises can come together to form a single clap of thunder. As incessant and threatening as a death knell. In precisely the same way, each image contains thousands of others and communicates an existence that is not only that of the object of its representation. Its power is striking, forcing us to go beyond the image itself, compelling us to condense what we see so that our concentrated gaze is able to extract meaning.
The sea that Sandro Scalia reveals is the sea we have turned our backs on. The sea we do not know, or that we are perhaps afraid of discovering. We can hear its noise, and even perceive its special smell from afar, but we are indifferent to its call. The din of the city, unbearable traffic, howling sirens and the thousands of examples of work in progress always win out over a separation that seems predestined and irrimediable. We’ve wilfully decided to ignore the liquid element that profoundly belongs to us and that constitutes our very substance. We have betrayed ourselves.

Scalia’s research presents successive video sequences dedicated to different charaters and their relationship with the sea. The camera fixes on key points along Palermo’s coastline, delves into the natural variations that mark this unknown landscape in an endless series of fades and live sounds.
Each frame is a search for the equlibrium of a structure, a construction of lines and breaks that qualify the representation of a space that none the less slips from our grasp. Our perception is dilated, broken and dissipated by the clamour of car horns, the fascination with the flow of waves and the alienating trickling sound of streams as they flow towards the sea. Close-ups are reserved for the gestures of equally immobile bodies, centred in shots where the gentle opening of lips, the battling of eyelids, darting gazes or smoke from a cigarette tend to flow wherever our attention offers least resistance. The clamour of the street punctuates the temporal flow of our vision and each trace of human vitality has the value of a will to resist the compromises of destiny.

This is both eloquent evidence and at the same time the documentation of a section of coastline made vulnerable by our betrayal, just as it appears in the fragmentary nature of its deterioration and destitution. Our awareness should be forcing us to a mature definition of a rediscovered identity for those places. An identity that is also our own identity.

(Tratto dal catalogo della 10. Mostra Internazionale di Architettura di Venezia, Città-Porto, Ed. Marsilio, Venezia 2006)