© Alessandro Librio, Tre Aquile, 2020. Filmstill.

Who: Studio Rizoma

Where: Palermo, Sicily

When: Established in 2020, ongoing

With: Culture of Solidarity Fund, European Alternatives

Conceived as an open hub for the Mediterranean region, Studio Rizoma attempts to establish rhizomatic structures, to adopt a decentral perspective on Europe and implement artistic projects involving feminist, postcolonial and ecologically conscious approaches.

Starting with the multimedia exhibition project Pandemos developed with Sicily-based artists (see below), Studio Rizoma is already expanding its work and network towards Europe's Southern edge, and works at sustainably anchoring the Biennale Arcipelago Mediterraneo (BAM) in Palermo. The next edition, planned for autumn 2021, is already in development with a consortium of local, national and international partners.

Port cities are the nodal points of a global system in which trade in raw materials, agricultural and industrial products is directly related to the migration of people fleeing hunger and conflict or seeking work and security. In port cities, the dialectic between the human desire for connection, economic compulsion towards exchange and political striving for control becomes apparent. 

Starting with five original artistic and theatrical projects, BETWEEN LAND AND SEA examines the existing connections between three port cities and the possible forms, contexts, political and social goals of transnational alliances.

BETWEEN LAND AND SEA consists of a series of artistic productions, performances and encounters involving the Italian artist Rossella Biscotti, the Palermo-based director Simone Mannino, the Lebanese artist Lily Abichahine and the German choreographer Monika Gintersdorfer, as well as many others.

The original productions will be accompanied by a 6-day summit spread between Tunis and Palermo and engaging artists, workers, thinkers, fishermen, etc., in imagining concrete forms of cross-Mediterranean people-to-people unions. 

The programme will be open to the public in Tunis and Palermo and will engage with a number of historical spaces, realities and communities across the two cities.

During the first months of the global pandemic in Spring 2020, Studio Rizoma issued an open call to collect the first European artistic responses to the pandemic and it's overcoming. Eleven Projects by 17 international artists working in Sicily have been chosen by a selection committee on the merit of their respective proposals. They worked over the Summer to produce artworks reflecting on the pandemic experience and its aftermath. Curated by Izabela Anna Moren, these works come to life through a physical exhibition on 27 October 2020 in the Convento del Carmine Maggiore, Palermo, and through a digital book available on the dedicated website.

Selected artists: Oli Bonzanigo, Michele Bubacco & Carlo Santacaterina, Michele Maria Cammarata & Roberto Lentini, Eliza Collin, Michelangelo Ferrara, Lina Issa, Alessandro Librio, Marianna Maruyama, Ignazio Mortellaro, Studio Luminescent, Salvatore Peluso.

The process of selection of the works was done together with an international jury composed of artists and writers, among them: Giorgio Vasta, Luca Cinquemani, Giusi Diana, Letizia Gullo, Simone Mannino, Izabela Anna Moren, Ennio Pellicanò, Filippo Pistoia, Clarissa Renée Podbielski, Giuseppina Vara, and Lorenzo Marsili.

BAM – Bienniale Arcipelago Mediterraneo is a biennial of theater, music and visual arts dedicated to the peoples and cultures of the countries overlooking the sea, focusing on the themes of hospitality and dialogue. Following the sucess of the 2019 edition, ÜberMauer, Studio Rizoma is dedicated to sustainably anchor the Biennale in Palermo and set up the foundation for the 2021 and 2023 editions, together with partners from Palermo and as well as from the Mediterranean region.

A special partnership is currently developed with the Biennial of Tunis, thus strengthening Palermo as a cultural hub of Europe's Southern edge

The 2019 edition of BAM (6 Nov. 2019 - 8 Dec. 2019), entitled ÜberMauer, took place in the year in which three anniversaries of strong political and symbolic significance took place: the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Tiananmen Square revolt and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprisings. These were the starting points for the project, which saw a rich programme of events scattered throughout the city’s historical sites, from the centre to the outskirts, with the participation of internationally renowned artists. The program was been written by Fondazione Merz and European Alternatives together with various actors of the cultural, artistic and political life of the City of Palermo.

Every city is a community in itself, wrote Aristotle, thus revealing one of the great tensions that still accompany us today: that between the universalism of notions such as humanity and justice and the often repulsive character of the polis, defined by contrast with those who have no right of citizenship. But is it possible to found a political community on trespassing? Is it possible to resolve what Zygmunt Bauman considered the challenge of the moment, namely “to design – for the first time in human history – an integration that is no longer based on separation”? We find this condition pulsating, already today, in a city as plural as Palermo: the centre of the Mediterranean; the cultural and political hinge between continents, strong with a transcultural vocation. BAM – Biennale Arcipelago Mediterraneo re-interprets and unites through art the iconic places of the polis, connecting the past with the present, towards a perspective of continuous change and inclusion, which, as the philosopher Walter Benjamin taught us, should lead us to “make familiar what is foreign and foreign what is familiar”.