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Prophetic Diffractions: A Psycho-Fable around Mary Shelley’s Neapolitan Landscape

Part 2 Project 2023
Ailbhe Boland
Emma Walsh
University College Cork | Ireland
Constituted as a “psicofavola” or ‘psycho-fable’ and based on Mary Shelley’s apocalyptic tale “The Last Man,” the project involves the re-inscription of feminist identity and meaning into the volcanic landscape of the Phlegraean Fields in Naples.

Within a landscape associated with key feminine figures – including Shelley, the Cumaean Sibyl, and Neapolitan Feminist collective Le Nemesiache - that incorporates Baia, Lucrino, and Lake Avernus (an entrance to the underworld in Virgil’s Aeneid), it proposes ideologies and methods that establish new Feminist approaches in architecture. Involving ‘diffraction’ as design method - a term used in Feminist Theory and Le Nemesiache – which Giulia Damiani maintains “accounts for the intricate relationship between past and present, alongside the complex desires of different generations of feminists that are triggered in a researcher’s consideration of an archive,” the project evolved using media from theatre, painting, and film.

As a design research study, it proposes these same processes on the project site in a reciprocal way. What evolves is an exchange between site, process, and building – an intersectionality where users and landscape have a shared existence. In these ways it facilitates healing of a turbulent and volatile landscape – conjuring and figuring new environmental, material, and collective social futures.

Ailbhe Boland
Emma Walsh


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