geert lovink on Thu, 12 Sep 2002 20:33:31 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> multiplicity: liquid europe and solid sea

From: "stefano boeri" <>

Dear friends,

We would like you to join us for a public seminar where artists,
geographers, photographers, thinkers, architects, film makers,
photographers, social scientists and curators will discuss at a round
table the new conditions of the Mediterranean Sea. Taking Case 01- The
Ghost Ship (produced on the occasion of Documenta 11) as a starting point,
the new geopolitical assett of the Mediterranean Sea will be debated.


Stefano Boeri
Maddalena Bregani
Francisca Insulza
Francesco Jodice
Giovanni La Varra
John Palmesino
Palo Vari
Maki Gherzi
Giovanni Maria Bellu




Public presentation, Kassel, September 13, 2002
VIP Lounge  3PM


Ghost Ship

The night of December 26, 1996, a 'ghost' ship with 283 Singhalese
clandestine immigrants on board and on route from Malta towards the
Italian coast, sank, a few miles off South-eastern Sicily, carrying with
it its load of life.

For five long years, the relatives' and survivors' invocations were
answered by contemptuous denials and ironies from the Italian Authorities,
who repeated with certainty that "the shipwreck had never occurred".

Meanwhile, fishermen from Portopalo continuously found corpses in their

For 60 long months, the Sea slowly returned the traces of a tragedy
consistently denied by the military and removed by the fishermen.

Neither the fishermen, nor the local Authorities had the courage to
denounce the truth, until the recovery of an ID belonging to a young man
from Ceylon suddenly created an breach thanks to the meticulous work of
Giovanni Maria Bellu, a reporter for the Italian newspaper 'la

Today, almost 2000 days after the shipwreck, the 'ghost ship', with its
load, re-emerges, visible to everyone.

Solid Sea

The story of the 'ghost ship', as many other of the events that unfold
along the entry 'corridors' for clandestine immigration in Europe, gives
us an unpredictable and strident image of the Mediterranean Sea; extremely
different from the edulcorated and appeasing one provided by mass media
and sedimented in books.

Today the Mediterranean is no longer -if ever it was- a large and liquid
"lieu de rencontre". It is no longer the generic space of a network of
relations that unites distant peoples linked by a common geographical
condition; the "cradle" of different yet connected cultures; a mobile and
'soft' area of hybridisation, encounter, blending of traditions, cultures
and costumes.

The Mediterranean is today a hard, solid space, ploughed by precise routes
that move from equally defined points: from Valona to Brindisi, from Malta
to Portopalo, from Algeri to Marseilles, from Suez to Gibraltar.

While Europe passes through a period of uncertainty, while borders and
equilibriums suffer continuous shifts, while North Africa and the Middle
East are cut by conflicts and differences, the Mediterranean has become
the only Certain Territory of this part of the world. A solid space,
crossed at different depths and with different vectors by clear and
distinct fluxes of people, goods, information and money.


Today, whoever enters into Mediterranean acquires, even if temporarily, a
stable identity: immigrant, fisherman, military, tourist on a cruise, oil
derrick worker, seaside tourist ... the "costume" will not be abandoned
until the end of the journey across the water. Only afterwards is it
possible to, once again, take up those uncertain, shifting and multiple
identities that today characterise the citizens of the globalised world.

Not in the Mediterranean: you are either a tourist, or you are an
immigrant; you either transport containers, or use dragnets; routes can
cross, overlap, yet rarely blend. And if and when this does occur, it is
only by accident: a short circuit that puts the different, yet coexisting,
depths of sea into contact one with each other. Unforeseen events that
suddenly unite distinct populations and isolated "corridors": bombs
dropped by NATO fighter planes and recovered by oil derrick workers on the
floor of the Adriatic Sea; Asiatic mussels attached to the hulls of
container ships; clandestine immigrants' corpses found in the nets of
Sicilian fishermen...

Only then, does the Sea show itself in its three-dimensional power, in its
immense and vague volume. A Sea that is able to cover up tragic stories
for years and yet make them reappear by surrendering a small clue.

Today the Mediterranean is a Solid Sea where, with incredible growing
density and often at various depths, the planned trajectories of
exacerbated identities graze one another. A part of the world that appears
to be counter-current.

Research network

Solid Sea is an investigation, conceived and coordinated by Multiplicity,
on the nature of the Mediterranean Sea, on the fluxes that cross it and
the identities of the individuals that inhabit it.

The research collects different case studies and analyses them by means of
an index paradigm.

Using distinct techniques of observation (from within the context of
analysis, using a point of view which allows their comparison), different
forms of representation -maps, photographs, videos, narratives- and
multiple research formats (interviews, reportages, statistics, shadowings)
Solid Sea reveals the identities and trajectories that flow through the

The new geography of the mediterranean is still largely unexplored. Solid
Sea is an attempt to phatom the new identities that inhabit the
Mediterranean, the trajectories of the fluxes of people, goods and
iformation that cross the Sea. An Eclectic Atlas of the contemporary
Mediterranean composed by the collaboration of a large network of research
institutes, thinkers, and researchers from different disciplines and


The public presentation of the first case study of the Solid Sea research
-the reconstruction of the events of the 1996 shipwreck off the Sicilian
coast- will be a round table where geographers, artists, architects,
curators, historians and critics will debate the recent cultural,
economical, political and social transformations in the Mediterranean
basin. These transformation are reconfiguring the geography of differences
and individualities: a series of case studies will start to outline a new
atlas of the contemporary Mediterranean condition. The new geopolitical
assett which is emerging in this area of the world is reconfiguring in a
multitude of different modalities the relations between individuals and
institutions, between long term traditions and intensified fluxes of
people, goods and information across this landscape, posing new questions
to the concept of citizenship.

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