The Bartlett School of Architecture


Il Balcone

Valeria Muteri

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‘Il Balcone’ reflects on what it means to be a ‘dissident' in a Sicilian society dominated by mafia mentality. The project is set in Castelvetrano, a town in southwest Sicily, homeplace of Muteri and the current godfather.

A balcony is where the private addresses the public. Valeria draws on its spatial politics as the basis for four acts of dissidence. The first is the large-scale reconstruction of a Castelvetrano balcony, using original louvred doors supported by a steel frame. This structure forms the basis of performative reading where a gathered audience of ‘spect-actors’ are invited to read aloud public reactions against mafia collected in Castelvetrano and to honour the brave resistance of anti-mafia activist Giuseppe Cimarosa. This performance is accompanied by a film paying tribute to the families of those killed by the Sicilian mafia, and its script is inserted into a fascist guidebook, using Benjaminian allegory to interrupt an official history of Sicily with a dissident version. 

Each act of dissidence encourages us to reflect on how individuals can take a stand. By reframing site, foregrounding the voice in public, showing resolve in grief, and intervening in an existing narrative, Il Balcone implores us to speak out for collective change. 


1. Mutu, Valeria Muteri, 2019.
2. Il Balcone, Valeria Muteri, 2019. Photo of a performance (courtesy of Jan Kattein).
3. Augusta Schiera - Survived By (video still), Valeria Muteri, 2019.