Where you sit
By Antonino Cardillo
Our perception of places is not recorded in metrics. Places are happenings and the depths they inhabit are shown there. These signs do not correspond exactly to space and time, and, sometimes, the sign becomes a symbol.
With the name Mammacaura, the salt workers refer to the sediment produced by the process of crystallisation of salt for evaporation in the sun, on the bottom of the basins of salt water of the Laguna dello Stagnone. Characterised by its adhesive properties, this name could reveal an unconscious psychic projection of the archetypal image of the terrible mother — a constant in the isle of Sicily — who imprisons the Being in a circle of immutability.
This work of architecture does not reconstruct a possible past but interprets a place. A square‑exedra of 1,000 square metres represents the emersion of a latent content on the site: that of the ‘Great Mother’. Thus, a set of constructions of yellow calcarenite stone, methodologically derived by analogy of the anthropic ecosystem of the salt, realises a possible dialogue with the surrounding environment.
Inside a cubical structure, the shape of a bar-counter has been modulated, covered in three pairs of slabs in pink granite and bright pink-crimson enamel on the rounded ends in the form of an arch. According to Giuseppe Pipitone — the decorator who painted the enamel in the room — this set of features “is like a queen in a castle.”
Often architecture is the representation of Evil. Architecture is a paradox: it is constructed by the oppressed to celebrate the oppressors. Architecture does not create new things but makes senses and meanings of the ‘things’ of the World. Architecture, therefore, is an interpretation of the World.
Liborio Perrone is 52 years old, the builder who made the stone part of this work of architecture. A salter from his youth, he has worked at the salt works of Ettore and Infersa and Isola Lunga. Descended from a generation of salt workers, Liborio Perrone is the same salt. What he knows, and what he does, derives from a phylogeny of constructions of the past.
The origin of the salt works of Marsala and Trapani is unknown. A possible clue is the presence of the Phoenician island of Motya at the centre of the Laguna dello Stagnone. Maybe this phylogeny leads to ancient Egypt?
Thus, with this anthropic past, the methodology of realising the design has been an investigation. The 90 days of work are shown in a journey of integration of archaic and unconscious contents. And, in his turn, the master-salter Liborio Perrone has become the interpreter of this work of architecture.
Cristoforo Buondelmonti, ‘Sicilia latino nomine dicta de greco vocabulo Sichilia habita’, in Liber Insularum Arcipelagi, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris, XVI Century, Fonds latin, Lat. 4823.
George Goudie Chisholm, Gatano Mosca, Thomas Ashby, ‘Sicily: note 1’, in The Encyclopædia Britannica, 11th ed., vol. XXV, Cambridge-New York, 1911, p. 20.
Joseph Isaac Spadafora Whitaker, Motya, a Phoenician Colony in Sicily, G. Bell & Sons, London, 1921.
Erich Neumann, ‘Uroboros’ and ‘Die große Mutter’, in Ursprungsgeschichte des Bewusstseins, Zurich, 1949; It. ed., Storia delle Origini della Coscienza, Astrolabio, Rome, 1978, pp. 53, 90.
Sabatino Moscati, ‘Due stele di Mozia’, in Rendiconti dell’Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, 8/21, Rome, 1966, pp. 198-99.
Mark Kurlansky, ‘Fish, Fowl, and Pharaohs’, in Salt: A World History, Penguin Books, London, 2002; It. ed., Sale: una Biografia, Rizzoli, Milano, 2003, p. 49.
Josephine Crawley Quinn, ‘Melqart’s Mediterranean’, in In Search of the Phoenicians, Princeton University Press, 2017, pp. 113-131.
Client: Saline Ettore e Infersa S.r.l.
Landscape and architecture design, project, and construction management: Antonino Cardillo
Bar furniture design: Antonino Cardillo
Photography: Antonino Cardillo
Text: Antonino Cardillo
English translation: Charles Searson
General contractor: VR Costruzioni Birgi Novi
Director: Vito Russo
Exterior foreman: Liborio Perrone
Interior foreman: Salvatore Pellegrino
Earthwork: Francesco Pedone
Masons: Francesco Angileri, Vito Pinto, Pietro Rondello, and Vito Zeferino
Painting: Lorenzo Buscarino, Salvatore Gangitano, and Giuseppe Pipitone
Electrical, plumber and clima systems: Giacomo Casano, Francesco Chirco, and Claudio Donato
Granite: Francesco Di Trapani
Pavement polishing: Baldo Incandela
Doors and windows painting: Giuseppe Ales
Bar equipment project: Vito Pietroburgo
Bar equipment production: Giacomo Sardo
Thanks to Dunja Glamuzina Belli and Elio Naso
Antonino Cardillo, ‘Mammacaura’, Identità dell’Architettura Italiana, vol. 19, ed. Paolo Zermani, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Diabasis, Parma, March 2022, pp. 58‑59.
Antonino Cardillo, ‘Where you sit’, Casabella, no. 925, Milan, 3 Sept. 2021, pp. 10‑17. Jap. ed. Atsuko Ueda, ‘マンマカウラ｜自分の座る場所’, 日本語版ブックレット, no. 68, Tokyo, Nov. 2021, p. 3.