For artists Fèlix de Rosen, landscape architect(USA) and Panósmico (Mariana Mañón and Manolo Larrosa - Mexico), qanats are understood as enormous cracks that represent portals to the material history and character of the city of Palermo. Their way to perceive the influence and presence of the artificial or natural fissures in the human landscape was directed into creating an polymorphic conception around them. Here Cracks are understood as a source of information about the city’s layers, hydrological conditions, urban planning and flora’s adaptation features. This acted as a departing point for drifting through Palermo’s open sources of information and holes through which to peek into.
Looking for cracks that talked about the presence or absence of water, asking if it’s attitude was menacing or positive, wondering about what the materials felt of being traversed by plants, dirt, trash, human waste or water flows, gave way to another mode of sensing the city; a phenomenological perspective which abounds from the falling down of the unity of stuff, that is, their resistance to the passing of time: weather, human activity, plants struggle for space, society’s abandonment, among other conditions favourable to cracks appearance.
Crackology project was conceived as an anti-anthropocentric guerrilla action. Mapping down some of the geological depressions, architectural faults, plant’s appropriations, water filtrations, among other decaying aspects (for human perspective) of the city, so that any pedestrian would pay attention to the presence of non-human forces which are giving shape to the city, as an homage to cities liveliness, to nature’s dynamics and opportunism.
Pasting signs with the perceived characteristics and causes of different kind of cracks in the landscape of Palermo, invite people to look at their quotidian space through another gaze, as an oblique strategy to provoke anyone’s curiosity and to inspire them to keep on researching until they get to the main crack that once opened the space of possibility for the whole city: qanats.
As Collovà writes in the Palermo Atlas: “In the dimensions of the buildings, in the distances, in the relative positions, in the light, in the ‘spaces between things’, in the behaviour of the inhabitants, we can always read the ‘fixed residue’ of architecture, we can still learn” (Collovà 2018, 231). The cartography of the natural degradation of the urban space, that marks the levels of time-interaction within the materials and the affective relationships between the elements that constitute the city landscape has its human metaphor in the last marked crack: the mortuary chamber of the crypt of St. Agnese church, were bodies were prepared for the next phase of existence, another kind of breach between tempo-spatial conditions, that between death of the human and the next phase of organic life occurs.
In further work after the workshop, the identified cracks were mapped in their different attitudes and characteristics, these maps were juxtaposed to go deeper into the outfolding of the landscape. A cartography of the land affections effected through human architecture and the environment play.
Ingruttati Palermo team was attracted by the underground water flows of Palermo. The qanats, ancient civilizational structures that kept the material history of the city alive, led the fellows of this research to question the consequences of the water’s presence on the different layers of urban conditions. Thus, we came to understand the qanat as a crack in Palermo’s geology. If qanats are purposefully designed cracks to channel water through ground, can the Danisinni neighborhood be understood as a crack in the city of Palermo? Furthermore, what is the relationship between the geological cracks and the fabricated ones? Our investigation of the qanats and Danisinni neighborhood was a broader exploration of infrastructures as mediators between “nature” and “culture”. Understanding the crack as a wide concept existing at multiple scales was the trigger to explore the Danisinni neighborhood through a new lens: crackology. The strategy was to step out of size dimensions as the main criteria for judging the importance of a crack and to replace them with five archetypes to focus attention on less obvious features to read the city’s decaying body. The moon, devil, hermit, emperess, and magician archetypes allow us to understand cracks as carriers of a variety of processes: opening, unifying, destroying, transforming, nurturing, etc.
Crakology team made a diagram with four concentric categories to serve as a hydraulic thermometer that could be applied through urban environments. The thermometer measures physical attributes (materiality, location, and presence/absence of water), as well as social and poetic ones. The center is an image of the related archetype, whose voice can be read at the bottom. After this reading tool was finished, the team spread through the streets of Danisinni neighborhood to label the different cracks found on the way with the diagram, thus creating an extended plane of all kinds of cracks and enhancing the city dweller’s experience of spatial dynamics in a broader sense. They completed each diagram by hand on carbon paper, so that each diagram on the street had an exact copy, that was then presented inside the mortuary chamber of the Danisinni crypt as part of the Manifesta 12 biennale. The mortuary chamber was the last crack, which it was expressed by painting the diagram around the chamber’s entrance, allowing the visitor to enter the crack. On the street had an exact copy, that was then presented inside the mortuary chamber of the
Danisinni crypt as part of the Manifesta 12 biennale. The mortuary chamber was the last crack, which it was expressed by painting the diagram around the chamber’s entrance, allowing the visitor to enter the crack.