Marco Cavallo, 1973.
an empty format experience of communication in the psychiatric hospital of Trieste directed by Franco Basaglia
by Giuliano Scabia
With Vittorio Basaglia, Stefano Stradiotto, Ortensia Mele, Federico Velludo, Vittoria Basaglia and others
Trieste, December 1972. January/February 1973.
Un’esperienza di animazione in un ospedale psichiatrico.
by Giuliano Scabia
Christmas 1972. Venice in the holiday season is a must see for all those who have gone to work outside the city. There is a kind of strange appointment. In this atmosphere, and at Franco Basaglia’s home, the idea was born to do a group project at the psychiatric hospital of Trieste.
The idea was immediately welcomed, first by Vittorio and Giuliano, then gradually by Federico, Ortensia, Stefano and Vittoria. Thus took shape a group of persons that, for various reasons, made available their various kinds of expertise, determined to use them especially to find a new way of being together.
None of us had ever been in a psychiatric hospital or had any psychiatric knowledge. We were painters, directors, writers, animators, teachers, photographers, etc., and we didn’t know how our crafts, our knowledge could be useful. Could we devise projects: teach how to draw? Teach how to sculpt? It wasn’t easy. We wouldn’t have a public to show our works to, or students to instruct in special techniques, or children to entertain, but a human reality that we wanted to help modify. Temporarily, in passing, with no precise work obligation or payment, we entered for a time a hospital undergoing change.
We were “artists,” a definition we chose precisely for its ambiguity, which would enable us to be recognized by the patients as persons not undergoing treatment or detainment: not interned in the mental institution. We wanted above all to start up a kind of uncodified and uncodifiable communication, which would gradually take shape over time. We worked in a difficult, stimulating and absolutely new situation, refusing however to establish a relationship of experimenters on guinea pigs.
What counted was to live out the experience, conscious of having to give up an entire mental structure, conditioned by our daily habits and relationships with “normal people,” in order to cultivate them with persons who were ill, imprisoned and excluded.
We realized that two types of creativity existed: what our profession obliged us to have and what was born from a constant confrontation with reality. In our work in Trieste we tried to use these two creativities together, convinced that only in this way could the individual truly amplify all his faculties in order to understand and solve the problems that were placed before him.
We lived among the patients for two months (the period we were given and which we gave ourselves). We turned out, through the construction of Marco Cavallo, drawings, songs, dances and discussions with the patients, doctors and nurses, which stimulated an atmosphere of vibrant communication among all of us. This atmosphere charged the figure of Marco Cavallo with a weight of collective liberation that was expressed with our trip into town, through the streets of Trieste, in San Giusto, in the neighborhood of San Vito. We lived for a single day what we would have liked to live always: we sang the song Marco Cavallo lotta per gli esclusi with the verve, anger and knowledge that we were all far from being liberated.
Documents are published in original language. In case the translation is present, both the original and the translation are published.
Giuliano Scabia, Cronaca del laboratorio P (primo, secondo, terzo, quarto, quinto, sesto, settimo giorno), in Giuliano Scabia, Marco Cavallo, un'esperienza di animazione in un ospedale psichiatrico, Einaudi, Turin 1976.
Giuliano Scabia, Cronaca del laboratorio P (trentacinquesimo giorno), in Giuliano Scabia, Marco Cavallo, un'esperienza di animazione in un ospedale psichiatrico, Einaudi, Turin 1976..
Vittorio Basaglia, Ortensia Mele, Federico Velludo, Vittoria Basaglia, Stefano Stradiotto, Giuliano Scabia, Premessa, in Giuliano Scabia, Marco Cavallo. Da un ospedale psichiatrico la vera storia che ha cambiato il modo di essere del teatro e della cura, Alpha&Beta Verlag, Merano (Bz) 2011.
Giuliano Scabia, Che cos'è un manicomio aperto?, in Giuliano Scabia, Marco Cavallo. Un’esperienza di animazione teatrale in un ospedale psichiatrico, Einaudi, Turin 1976.
Giuliano Scabia, Discussione dei progetti: cronaca, in Giuliano Scabia, Marco Cavallo. Un’esperienza di animazione teatrale in un ospedale psichiatrico, Einaudi, Turin 1976.
Giuliano Scabia, Discussione dei progetti: cronaca, in «Sipario», n. 323, April 1973.
Giuliano Scabia, Modi del comunicare, in Giuliano Scabia, Marco Cavallo. Un’esperienza di animazione teatrale in un ospedale psichiatrico Einaudi, Turin 1976.
Giuliano Scabia, Cavalli di luce sul sentiero, in Giuliano Scabia, (edited by). La luce di dentro. Viva Franco Basaglia. Da Marco Cavallo all'accademia della follia, TItivillus, Corazzano (Pi), 2010.
video by Geri Pozzar, Giulia Mainenti, Daniel Mazza and Emanuele Vernillo
Video footage from 1973 with commentary by Giuliano Scabia and Peppe Dell'Acqua from 2004
Roberto De Monticelli, Un cavallo azzurro per liberarli dal male, «Il Giorno», February 28, 1973.
Giuliano Zincone, Un cavallo per uscire dal ghetto, «Corriere della Sera», March 20, 1973.
Lodovico Mamprin, A colloquio con Scabia, «Sipario», n. 323, April 1973.
Umberto Eco, Un messaggio chiamato Cavallo, «Corriere della Sera», July 6, 1976
Alessandro Mezzena Lona, Quando Marco Cavallo uscì da San Giovanni con un sogno di libertà, «il Piccolo», June 12, 2011
Franco Basaglia, Il cavallo azzurro che portò i matti fuori dal manicomio, «l'Unità», June 22, 2011
Peppe Dell'Acqua, Un cavallo di nome Marco, «l'Espresso», July 21, 2011
Claudio Magris, La battaglia del cavallo che liberò i malati di mente, dialogo con Peppe dell'Acqua, «Corriere della Sera», August 30, 2011
Luciana Libero, Dell'Acqua, lo psichiatra della libertà, «Corriere della Sera», December 3, 2011
Claudio Magris, Marco Cavallo torna a correre, «Corriere della Sera», December 30, 2013.
Peppe Dell'Acqua, Marco Cavallo o della comunicazione, in Giuliano Scabia, (edited by). La luce di dentro. Viva Franco Basaglia. Da Marco Cavallo all'Accademia della Follia, Titivillus, Corazzano (Pi), 2010.
Marco Cavallo e la luce a Parigi, by Giuliano Scabia, «www.doppiozero.com», October 16, 2011
Lettera ai Cavalli di Trieste by Giuliano Scabia, «www.doppiozero.com», July 16, 2012
Il viaggio di Marco Cavallo. Intervista a Giuliano Scabia, by Anna Davini.
Basaglia, storia di una rivoluzione contro le masse, by Pietro Barbetta, «www.doppiozero.com»