© Delfino Sisto Legnani

Palermo Atlas

Palermo Atlas charts a territory at the epicentre of key transformations of our time. More than a city, Palermo is a node in an expanded geography of flows – of people, capital, goods, data, species. Although historically Arab-Norman, the Sicilian capital has been reshaped by recent migrations and now counts Tamil, Somali and Nigerian identities as part of a complex anatomy. Its markets and architecture, nature and ecosystem, harbours and maritime routes, make it a laboratory for cross-pollination and an incubator of global conditions. At the same time, Palermo’s controversial modern history has left indelible traces – physical, emotional, political – and a unique legacy of civic experimentation.

The Office for Metropolitan Architecture was commissioned by Manifesta 12 to do an urban investigation into Palermo, where the 12th edition of the European nomadic biennial is hosted. The urban study presents an alternative model for pre-biennial exploration, and is based on an omnivorous collection of stories gathered on the ground, of people, places, events and possibilities. With introductions by mayor of Palermo Leoluca Orlando and director of Manifesta Hedwig Fijen, it brings together the views of local observers such as Letizia Battaglia, Franco Maresco and Giorgio Vasta, along with critical texts by Marina Otero, Nora Akawi and Giuseppe Barbera, to ask whether Palermo might serve as prototype for the world to come.