Manifesta purposely strives to keep its distance from what are often seen as the dominant centres of artistic production, instead seeking fresh and fertile terrain for the mapping of a new cultural topography.

Palermo Atlas is an interdisciplinary analysis of the city of Palermo commissioned by Manifesta 12 and undertaken by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture. It 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 urban study presented an alternative model for pre-biennial exploration, and was based on an omnivorous collection of stories gathered on the ground, of people, places, events and possibilities.

All urban visions