Palermo, Zisa, 2023-05-12

The streets of Palermo are full of abandoned chairs—except they are not abandoned. They are used by the many actors who populate the city’s public spaces in unconventional ways, from illegal parking attendants to groups of men who play cards.

I always find them a strange sight when I see them without people. They seem out of place, especially when they are found in odd locations, which seems to be most of the time. Maybe their presence contributes to the sense of weirdness.

An anthropologist would tell you that they show the high level of sociality that takes place outdoors in Mediterranean societies. To me, they reveal how most people in Palermo do whatever they want outside, as if they all owned the place.

This photograph is a great example because the chair is actually an armchair, and the location is the wasteland in front of the Zisa, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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