Giovanna Fiume

Justice, Expiation and Forgiveness in the Graffiti and Drawings of Palermo's Secret Prisons

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Informations and abstract

Keywords: Spanish Holy Office; Graffiti; Visual/Verbal; Urban Graphosphere; Iconic Memory.

The Steri's prisons are to be investigated as a site of production of a peculiar religious culture: what kind of religiosity emerges, given the heterogeneous composition of the prison population? What religious practices (reciting the rosary, other prayers, lighting lamps, listening to mass celebrated in the corridors, etc.) take place in the cells? What kind of religious interaction takes place between prisoners locked up in the same cell? The «pictorial cycle » of cell no. 3 on the ground floor allows us to track down the iconographic models at play, identified as votive aediculae and the Via Crucis, as well as the authors' proximity-based iconic memory. But the drawings and graffiti are also linked through iconographic tradition to hagiography and theology, as emerges in the representation of the Leviathan. In the references to the harsh conditions of the prison one can read an implicit delegitimisation and criticism of the actions of a tribunal that does not consider this suffering to be sufficient punishment to merit forgiveness.

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