top of page


ph. Veronica Del Carro, Spain


The punctum, then, is a kind of subtle beyond (Roland Barthes)

This web site is an affective archive, a kind of atlas. The site collects the results of the PUNCTUM project, creating a random constellation starting from the materials produced by the participants involved in the project.

This project was born on the invitation of Be SpectACTive!, a large-scale European cooperation project including project partners such as European festivals, theatres, cultural organisations, universities and a research center.

Within this frame, Salvo Lombardo conceived the PUNCTUM project, in collaboration with Fabritia D’Intino, with the aim of developing a relational practice that would investigate the theme of "spectatorship". The different groups of spectators were invited to experience this practice as part of the 2021 edition of European Spectators Day, a digital and community-based event that every year involves and connects the local groups of active spectators.

PUNCTUM project is aimed to broaden the possible questions on the role of the spectator and on the role of the gaze observing a live artwork; the project proposes a relational and partecipative experience based on the activation of a form of “embedded look” observing a live artwork.

Why does my gaze on an artwork involve me? Why does it excite me? How do I interact with that work and how does it interact with me? How does that work look back at me? What happens when I am confronted with something immensely beautiful, challenging, or puzzling? How does a work trigger spectators’ perception and memory? What kind of new dynamics or imaginaries an artwork can really activate?

In his beautiful essay on photography entitled “La Chambre Claire” (Paris 1980) Roland Barthes investigates the very essence of the artwork (using photography in this specific case), trying to go beyond the ideas of illustration and representation. In this Barthes’ reflection, the subject who observes a photo (spectator) animates the photo, and in the same way the photo animates the spectator: this happens through a punctum.

Therefore the punctum is a very particular detail that escapes the general gaze and that “stings me.” It leaves me a wound or runs through me. It is a detail, even a minimal one, that activates my system of memories, of analogies, of associations, of perceptions and that stimulates the subjectivity of my gaze until it becomes a kind of “re-action”. The same also happens when I find myself in front of a live artwork: a performance for example.

The famous artist Marcel Duchamp claimed that the gaze of spectator complete an artwork as well: “the creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act” (M. Duchamp, The creative act, 1957).

Concept: Salvo Lombardo
Artistic Development: Salvo Lombardo and Fabrita D’Intino
Coordination: Fabritia D’Intino
Graphic Design: Marco Loi
Web Developer: Riccardo Petrini
Technical support final event: Chiara Caimmi

bottom of page