Cassandra. The right to speak.

Giacomo Garaffoni, Michele Ambroni, Sofia Rossi

Indocile Collective

 *Young contemporary art award 2021. Emilia Romagna Region District.


Cassandra is taken away from Troy in the aftermath of the massacre carried out by the Greek heroes, during the taking of the city. Cassandra is a seer, Cassandra is cursed, Cassandra has visions, she sees a future that the world doesn’t believe in, Cassandra is a witch, Cassandra brings bad luck, Cassandra refused Apollo who spat on her lips and condemned her to stay unheard. Cassandra looks at the wall, on October 27, 1946, closed in a mental hospital, and looks at the others. Grimacing, loquacious, pedantic, petulant, they all talked too much. This was enough as a diagnosis and so they locked them all up in a mental hospital. Bad mothers, wrong women.


Through a journey on the fine line between clairvoyance and madness, the author and performer from Cesena Giacomo Garaffoni writes the text of a monologue, bittersweet and ferocious, starting from the intense Cassandra of the German writer Christa Wolf.

The curse that weighs on Cassandra breaks the function of her saying, she who sees beyond time is condemned not to be heard, her word becomes sterile.

Mental illness has long been the muzzle placed in the face of thousands of women to remove them from society. To abolish them and shut them out.

Cassandra is called Giovanna, Maria, Rosalba, Vera…

Cassandra restores a name to all those who have been taken away. All the women who were thrown out, just because they talked too much.


It begins the day after the capture of Troy, the day after the fire, the day after, in a psychiatric hospital, on a Greek ship, in front of the lions of Mycenae, tied to a bed, tied to a chair. In this scenario, in which time and space inexorably lose meaning, Cassandra meets her death, the end of a siege that lasts an eternity, or lasted only one night.

This worksite specific, born from an idea by Garaffoni, takes shape in a space that is different every time, preferably linked to the hospital and ancient context it narrates, and is set up by the visual artist Michele Ambroni and the set designer Sofia Rossi. The work focuses on the photographic and clinical archive of the Italian psychiatry departments of the early 1900s and insists on the collapse of the identity of the patients, deprived of credibility and removed from society. The images attached to the medical records are burdened by an obscure importance, the principles in use in that particular historical moment, tried to recognize the deviance and mental illness in the physical traits: in the gaze, in the asymmetry of the face, in a different cheekbone on the other. But there was also a social reason, that of describing deviance to make it recognizable, sized and controllable. Last but not least, every photo, combined with every name, branded the interned people as sick, as cursed, with no possibility of return.

Hence the choice to disfigure these simulacra and to mark them irreparably.

The spectator goes through a path on memory and on the very concept of abolition that guides him to a cathartic performative moment. A descent of gaze and feeling that brings with it the memory and cast of the fire of Troy. A fall towards what is abandoned, indocile and only apparently forgotten.


Text, direction and concept: Giacomo Garaffoni

With: Giacomo Garaffoni and Giulia Astolfi

Installation: Michele Ambroni

Lights and Scenes: Sofia Rossi

Scene photo: Francesco Girardi

Figures: Diana Calbucci and Elena Menghi


Produced by FAI, Italian Environment Fund, Emilia Romagna Region District and Ferretti Consulting, with the support of the Department of Culture Municipality of Cesena and of the Superintendency of Cultural Heritage and of We Reading, (ass. Ishmael and the elephant).

The images used are displayed and processed with the kind permission of the exhibition: The flowers of evil. Women in asylums in the fascist regime, edited by Annacarla Valeriano and Costantino Di Sante (2016)