A reflection on the theme of freedom and imprisonment. Loredana Longo's project in Palermo, Palazzo Branciforte

From February 28 to March 29, 2020, Palazzo Branciforte in Palermo is hosting Quello che rimane, an exhibition conceived by artist Loredana Longo.

From February 28 to March 29, 2020, Palazzo Branciforte in Palermo will host Quello che rimane (What Remains), an exhibition conceived by artist Loredana Longo (Catania, 1967) as the final result of the project L’arte della Libertà (The Art of Freedom), curated by Elisa Fulco and Antonio Leone, inside the Casa di Reclusione Calogero di Bona - Ucciardone prison in Palermo. The project takes the form of a logbook documenting with writings, drawings and objects the artistic process that transformed the shared time experience of thirty people, including inmates, social and health workers, museum workers and prison police, into installations, videos and performances. The works, scattered throughout the labyrinthine spaces of Palazzo Branciforte’s Monte dei Pegni (Pawnshop) and functioning as chapters of a story through which to reread the project’s stages, are intended to give substance to a choral reflection on the theme of freedom and imprisonment, time as a personal unit of measurement and creativity as a residual form of freedom and an escape route from closed spaces and limiting thoughts.

From the illuminated sign Volare per una farfalla non è una scelta (Flying for a butterfly is not a choice ) to the T-shirt of the same name that houses the project’s phrase-manifesto, elaborated by the group on the first day of work; from the installation Il buco nella rete (The hole in the net), composed of strips of fabric on which are collected phrases about freedom made by the mixed group of participants, whose fluorescent words, specially illuminated, open new perspectives, to The Time that Remains, a kind of curtain that marks time in equal parts, hosting different ways of representing and interpreting it graphically. Added to these works is the performance cycle that, through video installations, stages the changing relationship between time and space when one moves in obligatory and constricting paths as in Forward and Backward where the corridor becomes the site of forced walks; or in The Map of Habit, a reconstruction of the space of a cell from preparatory drawings; in The Time of Leisure, where the inmates’ walks during their hours of freedom are mimicked, the traces of which become graphic squiggles that mark the trajectories produced by the performers wearing rubber boots with graphite heels; and in The Wall of Flesh where a human circle prevents people from leaving.

The exhibition, therefore, aims to overturn and erase the distinctions between freedom and detention, revealing the ambiguity implicit in the very concept of freedom, showing how creativity, by suspending social roles and functions, brings attention back to common needs and desires, creating a new image of prison, which symbolically opens and connects the inside to the outside.

Also, on the occasion of the exhibition, a documentary video curated by Elisa Fulco and Antonio Leone, directed by Georgia Palazzolo, will be presented. At the end of the exhibition, the book of the project (Acrobatics Editions) will be published with the testimonies of all the participants; the calendar of the activities carried out during the workshop with Loredana Longo to which will be added those with the guest artists of the permanent workshop (Stefania Galegati, Marco Mirabile, Ignazio Mortellaro, Sandrine Nicoletta); the contemporary art lessons in the prison; and the guided tours in the main city museums.

“If art is in general an expression of freedom,” comments Carlo Borgomeo, president of Fondazione CON IL SUD, among the organizers of the review, “to propose it inside a prison also means making it a powerful tool for liberation, through which knowledge and awareness of one’s own person can emerge. The challenge is to show that punishment is not the beginning of a sealed fate, but rather a crossroads in front of which it is possible to take a new path. Having the right people and the right opportunities beside you on this journey is of paramount importance to winning. The Fondazione CON IL SUD has supported this project, and about 30 other initiatives in the same area, because we believe in the possibility of making punishment a time to rebuild the relationship with society, not to break it.”

“We are particularly happy to host this second phase of the project for many reasons,” emphasizes Raffaele Bonsignore, president of Fondazione Sicilia, which as Fondazione CON IL SUD supports the project. “First and foremost is to host an exhibition that encapsulates the sensitivity and creativity of inmates on issues that affect them personally and on which we are all called to reflect. The Foundation’s goals have always included dialogue and inclusion, and this initiative fosters both.”

The exhibition opens Feb. 29 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., March 1 to 29 from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (box office closes one hour earlier). Closed Mondays. Tickets: full 7 euros, reduced 5 euros for (groups of at least 15 people, over 65s and concessionaires), free for schools and under 18s. For info: 091 8887767, 091 7657621, info@palazzobranciforte.it or log on to the Palazzo Branciforte website.

Pictured: Loredana Longo, Map of habit.

A reflection on the theme of freedom and imprisonment. Loredana Longo's project in Palermo, Palazzo Branciforte
A reflection on the theme of freedom and imprisonment. Loredana Longo's project in Palermo, Palazzo Branciforte

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