Black Ice

by Manuela Pacella

When dealing with the present, a continuous argument is not possible; the whole has to be assembled from fragments. It is the constellation, not the logical sequence, which produces the idea.
Slavka Sverakova, 1993 [from her book Art and Nationality. Inside, Outside. Cornerhouse, University of Ulster, Circa Art Magazine]

Locky Morris, Black Ice!, IG post, 8 March 2018.

This is a book; an experimental one; a cut-up of quotations from history books or writers who inspired me in understandng bits of a never understandable history, the one about Northern Ireland; in between the quotations there are personal thoughts, words, sentences, born during the long and careful walks in Belfast, mainly in 2013.

This book replies to a frequent question people did to me: “Why you go to Belfast?”
In 2011 I started to visit Northern Ireland very, very often. For professional reasons, yes, at the beginning. For curiosity, then. For a voracious need to know more about a place that at the time for me became a reflection of my personal struggles.
A non place. A post-conflictual place.
Many years are past from this book and I still go to Belfast.
Many things are changed, there (Brexit), here (my father death; my mother collapsing), everywhere (COVID-19).

I finally found an answer to that question in the words of Alastair MacLennan (performer of Scottish origins who moved in Belfast in 1975) who was often asked the same: “Here people are warm; if you fall in the street they react; in other places it doesn’t happen.”

This book was finished in 2014 and meant to be published on an online journal (and this is why there are some links to YouTube videos, or archive footages from the Irish television channel RTÉ) which never came to life.
This book became then the rapresentation of THE FRUSTRATION as wanted so much to find a proper home.

Black Ice is the name given to a peculiar ice I met during my first long walk in Belfast in 2011, narrated in the II chapter. It is a thin, invisible ice so it is extremely dangerous. It became to me the metaphor of walking in Belfast where it is mandatory to be very careful, to not make shortcuts in unknown areas, to distinguish normal walls by those which are interfaces between areas. It is extremely important to feel the street and the atmosphere, to catch signals and to be very respectful.

The last chapter is written by the performer Sandra Johnston (1968) in response to my invitation and a walk we did together in East Belfast in 2014.

My Black Ice is today dedicated to the memory of my father, Claudio Maurizio Pacella, and to my mother, Adele Cataldi, who soon will not be able to know who I am.
Rome, September 2020.