2020 - mixed technique - cotton - 59.4 x 52.3"

d'Alfonso      Perla

A Sabìr, the name refers to the language spoken in the past in the ports across the Mediterranean Sea, is a unitary whole, composed of several disused fabrics,  painted with purposely-studied colors. Each “canvas” is a complete but open story that leads to the next, sometimes in a continuum, sometimes in contrast, others by magic. The comprehensive arrangement of Sabìr and, in the same time, the enhancement of every single canvas require a detailed and elaborate study that moves alongside the pictorial actions. The special painting technique we developed is fundamental in this phase as the immediate absorption of color does not allow corrections. The long and delicate work of juxtaposition and binding -carried out with thin gauze to integrate the space left by the "missing words"- weaves the fragments together and renders a complete narration. Time is an essential element of the composition: from the first creative spark, the Sabìr does not reveal itself before the dawning of the second moon.


If the Sabìr are the plots of the main speech, the Totems are the words remained suspended in the air. The “canovacci”

left on the sidelines are recomposed poetically and rhythmically as in a filastrocca an oral composition based on alliteration and semantic shifts. In the Italian tradition, the filastrocca (term, probably, derived from fila la setaspins silk) is deeply rooted and it evokes a world where wise women and healers infuse it's formula with a ritual value and magical and apotropaic power.


Painted fragments of fabric left over from the Sabìr and from the Totems, collected along the way, are combined with playful spirit in the Ciaccerata a chat among the streets, confidences on the doorstep, voices from the markets, whispers, murmurs, hums... a polyphony of voices and sounds runs over the Mediterranean and weaves, from ancient times, the destiny of its people. A polychrome mosaic that tells of the ties and sharing, of the exchanges and clashes that unite and separate the twenty-five countries that overlook its waters.

Dame el mazal e etchame a la mar - Give me luck and throw me in the sea

Sabìr, from the Catalan saber "to know", was the lingua franca used by fishermen, merchants, pirates and slaves from Thessaloniki to Istanbul, from Valencia to Cagliari, from Genoa to Tangier. Idiom of mediation, it probably developed during the last period of the Middle Age and survived until the first decades of the 20th century. According to recent studies, this shared idiom is the oldest pidgin language known. Sabìr had a poor but precise vocabulary, composed of Italian and Spanish words with Arabic, Greek,  Portuguese and Turkish influences. Characterized by a simple grammar, it had very limited verb forms with a prevalent use of the infinitive and a very free word order. The many missing word classes, including possessive adjectives, was replaced by a large use of prepositions. Written testimonies are very rare: the first document in Sabìr dates back to 1296; it is the "Compasso da Navegare", the oldest portolano, pilot book, of the Mediterranean basin.


internetculturale.it, Marciana National Library – Venice, Italy. Giovanni Oliva,Nautical chart of the Mediterranean, 16th-17th century, printed cartography, detail

The voices of writers, poets and travelers become  imaginary routes...


«There is no sea that doesn't fit a window.» Raúl Aceves


«Only the sea will remember» Isabelle Autissier


«Free man, you will always cherish the sea! The sea is your mirror; ... » Charles Baudelaire


«I know a cure for all evils: salt water (...): sweat, tears or sea water.» Kareen Blixen


«The sea is an ancient language that I cannot succeed to decipher.» Jorge Luis Borges


«Construct, make, unravel; I prefer the sound of the sea ...» Dino Campana


«After the magic instant in which my eyes opened in the sea, I could no longer see, think or live as before.»

Jacques -Yves Cousteau


«Our sea who art not in heaven (...). Guard lives, the visits fallen like leaves on the avenue, be like autumn for them, be like the caress, the hug and kiss on the forehead from mother and father before leaving» Erri De Luca


«I love like the sea loves the shore: gently and furiously!» Federico De Roberto


«I think the sea leaves the same, deep mark on the soul of all the people that overlook it Joumana Haddad


«When you have nothing, having the sea - the Mediterranean - is a lot. As a loaf of bread for the hungry.» Jean-Claude Izzo


«The sea did not speak with sentences but with verses: ...» Jack Kerouac


«From this sea we depart the sea that does not part, ...» Brunetto Latini


«It's pleasant when over the sea the winds greatly troubles the water, to watch from land the struggle of others: not

because any man’s trouble is a delectable joy but only to take comfort from not suffering those labors.» Lucretius


«Culture and history plunge directly into things, into stones, into the wrinkles on the faces of men, in the taste of wine and oil, in the color of the waves.» Claudio Magris


«The journey ends along these shores, by the tide alternatively gnawed. Your nigh heart, that does not hear me, may be already sailing to eternity.» Eugenio Montale


«Now sea and land had no distinction more. Ocean was all, an ocean without shore.» Ovid


«It was a little harbor, an open door to dreams.» Umberto Saba


«... the sea has no country either, and belongs to whoever will pause to listen to it, ... » Giovanni Verga