Opening of the Ballade of Women exhibition in Siena

17 June, 2013 - 13:06

From June 18th to July 2nd 2013, Palazzo Sansedoni in Siena will host a poetic experiential exhibition as the result of an international collaboration between the University of Siena, Interactive Institute Swedish ICT, Fondazione Monte dei Paschi di Siena and the Eindhoven University of Technology. The exhibition is called “Ballade of Women - as woman is not sky, she is earth, flesh of earth that wants no war”. The title quotes a verse of one of the poems that constitute the soundscape of the installation.

Ballade of Women

This exhibition aims at exploring human rights from a female perspective, triggering a poetic reflection on the themes of self-determination, violence against women, and emancipation. 

The points of departure of this exploration are three paintings of the private collection of the Fondazione Monte dei Paschi di Siena.  They illustrate three historical characters: Cleopatra (by Marco Pino), Maria Magdalena (Rutilio Manetti XVII Sec) and Lucia from Siracusa (by Maestro dell’Osservanza, paintings that will be exhibited in a room dedicated to them.

The exhibition opens on the afternoon of 18 June and will be open to the public, with free admission, the following day. It exhibits the three original paintings and an interactive installation that plays and elaborates on the themes of each of the three paintings.

In the installation, representations of these three painting are fragmented, and float in the space, much as the information we have about their subjects has been fragmented by history and politics and the speed of our world. Set on rotating spindles, these fragments resist attempts by the viewer to capture them as a whole Thus, the screens only provide a complete view of the paintings at selected times and from specific view-points in the room. Following a specific interaction logic, each of the fragments can sometimes show the original painting, sometimes displays media that come from groups discussing internet issues addressed in the exhibition. These items rotate and their movement is influenced by the physical presence of observers and by online discussion groups on these issues.  Software continuously monitors news related to the themes of violence, emancipation and self-determination and how these are addressed through post and online discussions. The number of threads created from the internet is an input for the installation and influences movement and informative content.

The soundscape allows the viewer to pick up fragments of the play of a selection of poems, related to the three themes. Verses are whispered and vanish, immediately after being heard.

This dynamic experience suggests that each of us can contribute to compose a harmonious picture of the complex and controversial world of women's rights, by approaching it, and by being confronted with points of view of other people, facing the same topics from different perspectives all over the world.

Contact in Siena for the opening
Ambra Trotto, Senior researcher, Interactive Institute Swedish ICT, e-mail: ambra [at]

More information
Project website:
Ballade of Women on Facebook:
Images from the exhibition set up: