What can art say about the depopulation and abandonment of hundreds of small Calabrian villages started after the Second World War? How can artists interpret and tell an historical phenomenon of fundamental importance for the transformations of the Calabrian social fabric?
These are the questions focused in “La città che parla”, an interactive sound installation created for the Cleto Festival 2018 in collaboration with Camera 237, an artistic collective made up of Angelo Gallo and Lucy Mey.
The space of the installation is the central street of the ancient village of Cleto: in the middle of the narrow street a mixer made of audio inputs and outputs welcomes the visitors inviting them to become the creators of a new sound “re-foundation” of the village. As in front of an old synthesizer from the 80s, the visitors insert and remove the audio cables of the mixer, producing, with each action, a reaction in the soundscape of the village played by a nine speakers distributed in a 70 meters long space, the whole main street of the village. The speaker are everywhere: in the houses of the old inhabitants and on top of the bell tower of the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, inside the old shops and on the flowered balconies of the houses of French tourists who come there for vacation.
The speakers narrate Cleto during the ancient times, its religious and pagan festivals, its card players and taverns, its night tailors, its peasants and the constant rhythm of their hoes, sickles and saws. A soundscape that slowly disappears, vanishing like the inhabitants of Cleto when an empty, silent and abandoned environment fade in. This is the dramatic face of the new Cleto with no people walking through its narrow streets where the old buildings are at risk of collapsing.
Eighteen tracks tell of these two worlds, the “Cleto that lives” and the “Cleto that collapses”, but not all at the same time. In fact, only nine are the sounds that fill the streets and are chosen by those who interact with the central mixer. Eachone of the visitors builds its own soundscape, each one creates presence and creates absence, trying to become aware of the condition of the surrounding village through their sound creation.

La Città che Parla is a sound installation created and realized by Marco Stefanelli, Angelo Gallo and Lucy Mey.
Produced by Marco Stefanelli, Camera 237 and La Piazza organization for Cleto Festival 2018