Il Balcone. A site-writing performance (2018)
  • Valeria Muteri | via Rossini 84, Castelvetrano, Sicily

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  • Il Balcone. A site-writing performance (2018)
  • Valeria Muteri | via Rossini 84, Castelvetrano, Sicily
  • ‘Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.’ – Hannah Arendt

    Il balcone (The Balcony) is the documentary of the event that took place in Castelvetrano, a town in the south west of Sicily, on April 2018. 

    A site-writing performance was conducted from the balcony of an uninhabited house, through a chain of thirty-six metres of paper that developed metaphorically and physically through the interior spaces of the building. The history of the house is an emblem of Sicilianity: bequeathed by my great-grandmother to her six children (and today to their heirs), it remained uninhabited after her death. Being undivided, it was considered ‘property of nobody’, although belonging to all of them, and therefore over the last twenty-six years, it fell into a state of neglect. 

    The house, therefore, has a strong autobiographical component, which acts as a tribute to the history of my family who, like many others in that historical period in Italy, lived in post-war poverty, and built this house by themselves as a redemption of a difficult social and personal condition.

    The text was a reading in two voices (Italian and Sicilian dialect), about the journey of a lost wallet as an allegory for the different participants in Sicilian society.

    The event started with a short walk from the town’s historical centre up to the entrance of the house, where the performance took place. It concluded with the return to the meeting point, where I opened up a conversation with the public about the event.

    The balcony is a threshold between public and private and is used as a tool to explore the distortion made by mafia culture on the concept of public and the ‘other’ as part of Sicilian identity. The provocative and ethical approach of the project is reinforced by the fact that Castelvetrano is the place where the current mafia Godfather is from.


    Valeria Muteri is currently reading a Master’s in Situated Practice from The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, where she took the Site-writing module in 2018. She is working as an Architect in London, holding a Bachelor’s in Architecture from the University of Palermo (Italy) and she volunteers at the Tate Modern. Before her move to the UK, she trained in architectural practices in Barcelona and Milan, always feeding her interests in architectural research and contemporary art.

    Valeria is developing a site-specific practice to explore the intersections between people and place. Her research centres on the relationship between public and private, and how social injustice is affecting the concept of identity. 

    She is particularly interested in personal memories and ordinary stories, and how performance and visual practice can be used to narrate them. Valeria’s work is related to architecture, spatial practices, and critical methodologies and how these can be explored as political tools to reflect on contemporary situations and social issues.

    The final project for her MA in Situated Practice focusses on the distortions made by mafia culture on Sicilian identity and on the possibility of engaging the local community to question this.  The output of this research will comprise a performance/installation, and an artist’s book alongside video works.


    Mafia is a sensitive subject to deal with in Sicily. The spatial qualities of writing have been a strong tool to mediate the difficulty and danger of raising any critique of it in public.

    The critical choice of the intervention site remarked the personal value of the house among the family members, while the metaphorical usage of the balcony helped the public to reconnect their personal memories with the community. 

    The phenomenon of the mafia draws its strength from the ‘code of silence’. For this reason the public reflection activated by this practice can be considered already a small but significant step forward.

    balcony, threshold, public/private, identity, distortion, mafia


    Adriana Cavarero, Relating Narratives. Storytelling and Selfhood, Routledge 2000.

    Rem Koolhaas, Fundamentals: 14. Mostra Internazionale di Architettura. La Biennale di Venezia, Marsilio, 2014.

    Caroline Bergvall, ECLAT. tour of a house, tour in a book, Institution of Rot, London 1994 [].

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