Psychogeography in Southern Italy. Between Contemporary Art And Activism | BERNARDO BRUNO


Metropolitan drifts is an aesthetic and existential experience that was born several years ago.[1]

Explore abandoned, lost and seemingly impenetrable places, which tell of a past world that has remained suspended in time and almost always on the margins. It is fascinating to perceive how these places still exude life and have a strong identity. Finding ourselves in the era of communication, it is not surprising the growing interest in the relationship between architecture and new forms of narration. The research activity has taken its first steps through different experiences developed in collaboration with the Order of Architects of Bari. As part of the "Plan YOU"[2] project a first drift was made in Bitonto, where we started by telling the theoretical references and then moving on to establish strategies, routes and places to investigate, to arrive at presenting the results in a city event. Subsequently, similar initiatives were held in Gravina di Puglia, Cassano Murge, Turi, Bitetto, always addressing different themes that emerged from the needs of the territories.
Our forms of investigation / actions are linked to the work that an ever-increasing number of architects perform, we refer to the actions and research of the Stalker[3], at the Psychogeography course at the University of Zurich by Gianni Biondillo[4], to the Anglo-Saxon experiences such as that of the "walking artist" Hamish Fulton[5].
We also questioned the forms of reappropriation of spaces through land-art and public art by performing specific actions with participation in the Festival of Psychogeography.
The activity thus carried out over the years has highlighted some interesting connections between a practice of walking and its theoretical and philosophical study. The connection in different territories of inhabitants of the places and scholars coming from different realities have generated the awareness of an evolution of the activities discovering new possible readings for example between  "social and landscape heritage" and "tourism"[6] Sites par excellence in which the phenomenon of tourism manifests itself, the city-heritage or heritage-places, see every day the arrival of tourists who cross them and take possession of the cultural heritage, composed of material and immaterial parts only for the purpose of "consumption ".
This phenomenon risks becoming a new regenerative resource and opportunities for reciprocal knowledge at risk, with important social, economic and cultural effects, transforming spaces and characters of cities, introducing new needs and design parameters. The historic city risks being subjected to excessive protection actions and the phenomenon of musealisation. Forms of expression such as land art and public art represent, however, an attempt to design new public spaces for new identities. Going back to narrating the ACTIVITIES carried out allows us to understand the theoretical approach experimented for example starting from Bitonto with a "creative walk". Let's start from the austere building that hosts the event and interview a lady and with her she reflects on the skyline of what lies before us. The heat does not discourage starting from crossing a bridge that exceeds "Lama Balice", we cross the whole Via Castelfidardo and cross the bridge designed by Carmine Sylos. We meet a young man in a garden with his dog on a leash and ask him some questions about the quality of life in that neighborhood. We move on Via Chiancariello, we meet a gentleman at the door of his workshop and we stop to talk with him. There is talk of building, of illegalism, of "nocturnal movements" in the area of ​​people, cars and scooters. Of walls built in a hurry in a single night etc. (recorded interview). Continue on Via Chiancarello to photograph even only the exterior of the "sculptor's house".[7] But he who derives, is a curious traveler who wants to "penetrate the changing reality of thought and territory," (Careri)[8]. 


Ringing the bell welcomes us in his garden, around a table he carved with a symbolic inscription carved into the stone. A phrase by the sculptor conceptually represents our "drift": "THIS TABLE IS NOT A TABLE". It tells us perfectly how our strolling, even though it may seem like a lost in space and time, is actually an "other" way to discover the places of living, knowing the people that those places live every day. We continue the "drift" along Via Palombaio, here at the corner of Via A. Labini we cross an old gentleman, thin, who insistently asks us to be accompanied on the other side of the square. Not being indifferent to the request for help, in a fraction of seconds we realize that the old man is blind, then taken the gentleman under his arm, we accompany him on the other side of the Fallen Terrorism Square near the church of St. Andrew the Apostle. This episode also makes us reflect on the sense of street planning, the use of psycho-geography as an instrument of knowledge of the territory. Evidently life in the city and in the street is very different from the common professional practice, emotional experience that many no longer have the opportunity to live intent to work in front of a monitor and connected with a virtual network. We head on Via Solferino and continue on Via Castelfidardo, you are fascinated by the sign of the Landmark radiatorist of other times that shows us our return.
Time passes and the places pass so we are in Gravina di Puglia  where we make a multi-sensory drift close to the gravina "drift programmed by the Gravina Fair on Via Spinazzola, fringe areas between city and countryside were investigated making a multi-sensory drift. On that occasion Gianpio De Meo was still with us, he would die in an accident the following month [9].
The aim of the operation was to note through the 5 senses  the sensations tested and synthesized through a final document performed during the afternoon activity. It is divided into groups. The first performs a longer range excursion. The second goes to a pine forest and crosses the Gravina and then crosses a bridge and heads towards the ancient village. The second deals with the landscapes of margin, the suburbs and its becoming countryside, in the constant contrast between the building of the popular and peripheral houses where they overlook the countryside. Subsequently the two groups met to compare the different atmospheres encountered two different images of the same city. The result is a map of the city where instead of the signs of streets and squares you can read the places where you hear traffic noise or the birds singing, where you can taste the wild herbs or the fragrance of hot focaccia, the scent of a freshly cut lawn or the smell of a dumpster, the softness of a leaf or the roughness of the asphalt. An urban environment very different from the traditional one.

Gianpio De Meo


But this methodology, this practice also becomes social commitment when you ask whether our cities are really for everyone, they are inclusive, and if Turi, a small agricultural center near Bari, was an "accessible city". We decided to try out a path "from school to the station", which actually crosses the city, was really accessible to citizens with disabilities. In this case the "drift in the city" was used to cross the public spaces of the city with a blind girl and her guide dog. We have also used wheelchairs to check the real difficulties of crossing the public spaces of the town. Even in this case, photos, video footage and interviews have allowed us to understand and communicate the difficulties of public administrations but especially architects. The latter sat for the first time in a wheelchair and realized the limitations of a non-inclusive city design.
In Cassano Murge the journey continues and the walk, the psychogeography is transformed through flash mobs in performances that involve citizens and parts of the city, identifying the scenes of a crime and then turning into Land Art. The Path focuses on the places where environmental crimes have been committed to fringe areas between city and countryside. Flash mobs are made, as an "investigative sounding" of restricted areas, as if they were "crime scenes". The participants in these performances, perfectly dressed as agents of the scientific police, fend off parts of the city and territory, collect the bodies of the crime abandoned to the ground, garbage, cans, condoms, old clothes, cigarettes, all inserted in transparent plastic bags, a "waste landscape" was subsequently recreated as a "plan of the crime", mounted on metal panels surrounded by the "evidence" of the crime. The panels were left exposed at the entrance of the municipal library for several days so that the citizens who passed could "see" directly with their own eyes what is "abandoned with impunity" in the town and in the immediate surrounding by the same citizens.

The Path. Cassano Murge
At Castelluccio Superiore, we return to face a multi-sensory drift with a group of walkers participating in the "Netural Walk 3" organized by "Casa Netural" [10]of Matera. We started from Laino borgo, in a landscape of woods, to reach Castelluccio Inferiore 5.8 km. From here we headed to the Church of Madonna di Loreto in Castelluccio Superiore through a steep path that runs along the "mesole" small urban gardens that the Associazione Officine Verdi is trying to bring back to life. The characteristic is that which in fact provided the essences and aromas necessary for food preparation in the past. So the whole neighborhood took care of these small areas. We reached the locality Rifugio Difesa on foot where we had lunch. During the afternoon and the evening, recreational activities continued and a dinner with dances, songs and poetic recitations. The following day, under large trees in an extraordinary forest and in an equipped area of ​​the Difesa di Castelluccio Superiore shelter with tables and accessories present there, 5 groups realized different plans of the route taken. The groups performed the exercise with annotations and drawings, pasted post-it and material and natural elements. After brief consultations between the various components and entrusting the exposure of the work performed to a team leader have been illustrated to all the others present and other people who in the meantime were added as observers of the activities in progress.
In Southern Italy it is easy to meet roads that end up in nothing, never completed, public spaces abandoned to neglect. In Bitetto we discovered and carried out a drift in a park where nature is taking over and at the same time offers itself as an ideal place for the new "users of abandonment". It is an "unreal park" that comes to life at dusk and lives at night to show itself every morning different.   Night, moon and writers that mark the internal and external walls of buildings never used. The used cans, the scraps of dinners based on pizzas and beers in cans, are scattered among the threads of the era. Like in a dream, in this huge cavea of ​​rocks and spontaneous plants, in the moonlight the shapes flow fast, two motorcyclists roam with their bikes on the slopes, the motorbike tires cut furrows in the ground. Waste bins piled up in a shed, laughter and thrills among teenagers who have found a refuge where they feel free from conventions, rifle cases. A landscape of scraps and vandalism, cigarette butts and nature that reappropriates the space subtracted from the cement. It 'a show, the beauty of abandonment and neglect, the poetics of rust ..... not for everyone, only for those who break the absurd bureaucratic rules and prohibitions and decide to use a huge space, large part discovered that it had to be a park and was never used .... In the moonlight a human fauna populates an "unfinished dream" wanted by other subjects, many doubts remain, is it a dream or an unreal park?
Thanks to this characteristic of "Listening skills", the network has created a network creating relationships and linking up with other associations such as "Archietica Ethical Laboratory of Architecture and Landscape" and the Italian Landscape Architecture Association with which for two years already shares the "open gardens" initiative In 2017 the "OPEN GARDENS PROJECT" took shape between the Ofanto river and the Bradanica Fossa on the theme of crisis landscapes, from emergency to opportunity - in order to contribute to the drafting of a document such as: "from Italy to Italy landscape" . The day of study and knowledge of the landscapes of the land reform of Lavello rural area and Venosa rural area was aimed at promoting the protection and enhancement of those places through the project of an ethical landscape. The following topics have been dealt with extemporaneously and through the "drift" tool: * knowledge of the landscape and its signs * the protection of a heritage of rural architecture built in the South of Italy by the various land reforms * the ethical modernization of agriculture based on criteria of civilization, in contrast to the caporalato and with particular attention to its social implications * The landscape project through "Agrocities 2.0" as a solution proposal.  The drift carried out focused its attention on the villages of land reform: their aging, abandonment / degrowth, the crisis of local production traditions and the risk of losing the cultural identity of the places. The "agrocities 2.0"[11] project identifies new opportunities for development through the multifunctionality of places and landscapes.
This year has been tackled The profession of Landscape Designer, with its profound changes, in fact the landscape designer becomes a promoter, through a WALKING MEDITATION BETWEEN LANDSCAPE ARTIST[12] AND CULTURE ZEN[13], of new ways to immerse themselves in the landscape of the waterfront of BARLETTA The coastal landscape, as a natural frontier that is opposed to the neurotic walking and place of reflection. What better to be able to get in direct contact with the landscape? This modality experimented by Derive Metropolitane aims to better perceive that particular strip of coastal landscape characterized by the vast Barletta beach. It is about walking along a line or a perimeter established in open spaces or in nature. The aim is to get in touch as well as the landscape with one's intimacy and to feel a deep harmony and relationship with the universe. A toll signals the end of the session. The act of walking, helps to bring man back to the awareness of his own authentic nature, of his being there, represents a way to regain contact with himself, with his body, his mind, his role in the cosmos. Meditative walking is a practice that helps to calm the mind and increase one's awareness. 

Barletta beach


The connections described over time are being internationalized and so we participated in FESTIVAL OF PSYCHOGOGRAPHY FESTIVAL[14]   The Festival of Psychogeography takes place from 2011 every 23 February. The Festival originated in Leeds in England and extended beyond national borders. The Festival is dedicated to God Termini. ".... If you like it, it will be the end of the day." The Festival of Terminalia has been approved by us! fictional and imagined. Places of beginnings, endings and thresholds. " In Barletta Our path takes place in the direction of Porta Marina, then we cross the Walls of Carmine and stop at the Paraticchio, where we depose a chaplet of symbolic laurels to practice our ritual dedicated to Terminalia. Then we head along the borders that are not there anymore ... the probable track of the beaten sixteenth-century city walls. We head towards the Church of Sant'Agostino where Porta Napoli was located and from there we continue towards what was to be the northern route of the new Porta, Porta Croce, and then deviating towards the Porta San Leonardo castle to the ravine with via Conte di Cavour to end in Piazza Castello, here we will place another small crown of then at the foot of the monument to conclude our Terminalia.




[1] Promoters architects Bernardo Bruno, Gianpio De Meo, Giorgio Skoff. Reference website

[2] "Plan YOU" Architect Order of Bari numbers 2-3-4-7 publication of the Territorial Planning Commission of the Architect Order  of Bari, supplement of the bulletin PROJECTIONS

[3] Stalker group of artists and architects operating mainly in Rome since 1993

[5] Hamish Fulton

[7] The home of the sculptor Pantaleo Avellis, looks like a parallelepide completely closed on the outside

 Pantaleo Avellis is a sculptor , he living and work in Bitonto

[8] Francesco Careri :Walkscapes -Piccola Biblioteca Einaudi-2006

[9] Our article "Walking through Apulia" on Cameracronica Magazine is dedicated to architect Gianpio De Meo (team partner of Derive Metropolitane). The article tells of a landscape of southern Italy with which we inevitably get to the "clash" even if you are always armed with saving intentions. In the afternoon of July 13th 2015, while Gianpio passed by bike in "his desired landscape" he was hit by a car running in mad speed. Cameracronica Magazine n ° 12 - Publisher Giacinto Cerviere

[12] "My art form is the journey made on foot in the landscape ... The only thing we have to take from a landscape are photographs, the only thing we have to leave are the traces of the steps" Hamish Fulton

[13] "Walking meditation means practicing meditation as you walk. It is a practice that will give you joy and peace ... Walking, anxieties and worries will slip away. To have peace of mind, to achieve self-liberation, learn to walk like this ... "Thich Nhat Hanh