Baroque Sicily: The Politics of Urban Spaces in Palermo with Valeria Viola

Baroque Sicily: The Politics of Urban Spaces in Palermo with Valeria Viola


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Join us in eighteenth-century Palermo where we will explore the intersection of architecture, faith and politics. By looking at maps, prints and archival records of religious and civic procession routes through the city, we will trace how aristocratic families used the city and their own anterooms and balconies to express and consolidate power.

In the eighteenth century, the political structure of Palermo was not static nor monolithic. Instead, it was driven by numerous competing factions such as the Viceroyalty, the Senate, the Parliament, the clergy, and the many associations active in the city. The noble families of Palermo were linked to all of the protagonists in the political sphere, through whom they operated, primarily to advance the status of their own lineage. Aristocrats actively participated in the management of the holy, since they were involved in religious institutions and had privileged positions in processions and feasts.

Led by an expert on Baroque art and architecture, Valeria Viola, this interactive seminar will explore thresholds and connections between houses and urban spaces. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased grasp of the blurred border between private and public life that was central to life in Palermo in the eighteenth century.

Valeria Viola is an art teacher with experience in both architectural practice and research. After her bachelor's in architecture (1997) and her 2-year master's in religious art (1999), Valeria worked for 18 years as an architect specializing in restoration (1997-2015), while publishing nine essays on religious architecture and its relationship with the urban context, financially supported by the Abadir Art Academy (1999-2009) and the Theological Faculty of Sicily (2012-2015). In March 2020, Valeria completed her PhD programme in History of Art at the University of York (UK) with the thesis “Architecture, Devotion, and family life in Baroque Palermo”. The results of her research were published in five essays (2018-2020) and disseminated in several international conferences. In June 2018, she organized an international conference on ""The Superabundance in the Baroque"" and co-edited its proceedings (published in 2019). After having been awarded with the York Learning and Teaching Award in 2018, Valeria is an Associate Fellow at the Higher Education Academy. She has taught at the Department of Art History and the Centre for Lifelong Learning of the University of York (2017-2018), the Theological Faculty of Sicily (2007-2015, every other year), the Italian state school (2008 -2016) and the Abadir Academy (2005-2008).

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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