Palazzo Steri 1633

Girato a Palermo, curated by Marcello Faletra and Ida Parlavecchio, Ex Deposito Locomotive S. Erasmo, Palermo.

“I am wracked by fever and shiver with cold I have malaria and my bowels tremble.
My heart and my spirit are fading away.”

A desperate woman wrote this in 1633 on the walls of her cell in Palermo, where the inquisition left her to languish. This piece of writing came to light during the restoration of a part of the Steri palace. The text was displayed on a window of a bar in the port of Palermo to bring a  voice, hidden for nearly four centuries, to life.

The Steri Palace: difficulties without a passport, just one vision, no relativisms, yet under the surface of these walls there are parchment sounds of bodies that have been judged. These silent, capacious walls absorb but release with difficulty, are fragments of history, documents.

Why should we try to relate to a cry from the past? To propose it again might be to invite it to recur.

A bar, lots of traffic, a brioche with ice cream, a sigh of relief.
Our eyes rest on the words “what does terzuri mean?” for a moment, then they move to a distant man who’s talking animatedly on his phone. It’s important, every one needs to know. “The woman in the building is ill!” She has caught malaria, the holy inquisition have locked her up and refuse to allow her any treatment. The voice fades, the heart beat weakens, it’s almost imperceptible, the communication is broken, the terrified child looks up at her father’s face. He switches off the phone. Coffee in a nice air conditioned environment await.

© Robert Pettena 2022