The Dialogue in the dark and the dinner of the four senses
“You don’t mind the empty and the full, right?
Imagine you are walking on a sidewalk.
At a certain point, next to you, a large door opens, one of those ancient buildings.
You turn around and see that the door is open, right?
I, on the other hand, feel the air that passes, the opening. “
A path in the dark: all the senses, except one
A group of up to eight people at a time travels through different stages, accompanied by a guide with whom they can communicate only through words. The walk in the dark takes an hour and fifteen minutes.
It is truly a dialogue in the dark .
You go through different environments, using only touch, smell, hearing and taste. It is normal to feel disoriented, at least in the beginning. We experiment and confront ourselves with a new way to move in physical space.
You come across places, atmospheres and objects already known, but which at each step are rediscovered from a new and different perspective.
Thus, listening becomes fundamental and it also becomes essential to be heard, to perceive the smells intensely and to feel the need to touch, almost compulsively, everything around you.
It is necessary to be able to overcome the difficulties imposed by the lack of sight but, after all, it is only ” another way of seeing ” the world around you.
"You don't need to look to see far"
I enter a narrow corridor with seven other people. We are all in single file. Behind us is the light that slowly, step by step, disappears behind us.
I think I’ve never missed it so much.
Inside you can no longer even hear external noises: there is only us and our footsteps.
I don’t suffer from claustrophobia, yet I begin to feel disoriented and confused, as if I lack air. I know exactly where I am, but it seems to me that I am no longer so sure now that I no longer see anything.
Here it is suddenly, with an almost maternal and familiar tone, the voice of a woman. He reveals to us that he is visually impaired, but that does not seem to upset her at all. She is sure of herself, much more than us who are there listening to her like children eager to know the rest of the story.
The light no longer comes from any source, neither from outside nor from the faint flame of a candle. Darkness envelops us all: it is absolute, almost heavy.
My fellow adventurers will be experiencing the same strange sensations as me, I’m sure. I hear their voices as if I could touch them and it comforts me, it reassures me, even though I still can’t make any contact with them. Not yet.
We have heard, touch and smell to guide us, as well as a stick to know where to put our feet. Only this, and that’s enough for us.
From Frankfurt to Milan: the "path in the dark" begins
The first path in the dark was born in Frankfurt in 1988, from an idea by Andreas Heinecke.
At the time, Heinecke was a journalist for the German public broadcaster Südwestfunk. Still full of prejudices, he met a fellow blind journalist who changed his worldview, perception of reality and approach to the little things of everyday life forever.
The search for new forms of communication, the importance of communicating through all the other senses and then, one day, the idea that also upset his working life.
Thus he left Südwestfunk to devote himself completely to the foundation for the blind Stiftung Blindenanstalt Frankfurt, where he began to train people with blindness to teach them to work within German radios.
His dream was to become an entrepreneur. Thus he founded the Dialogue in the Dark , breaking down any barrier between sighted and blind and starting a real pandemic of the project, with exhibitions and workshops in different continents of the world.
From Frankfurt, then, to Milan . From the first installation at Palazzo Reale in 2002 to the exhibition-itinerary at the Istituto dei Ciechi di Milano in via Vivaio number 7, with over 110,000 visitors registered in the first two years alone.
It seems to dream with your eyes closed
The walk in the dark has already begun, but suddenly the fear is gone. I move through a very specific path, made up of environments, objects and obstacles that, in a certain sense, I already know.
I hit a parked car, walk on a pedestrian sidewalk, move inside the rooms of a house and then find myself among the stalls of a market, on a boat, in a garden.
Get in touch with objects and change the environment, first listening to the sounds of nature and then the noises of urban chaos.
I seem to see through my hands and smell perfumes that I had never noticed before.
The simplest things, like touching the wet grass and smelling it, plunging your hand into a sack full of coffee beans and smelling them, getting on a motorcycle sensing its shape and imagining it in the mind. It is all exhilarating.
Dialogue in the dark almost seems like a rebirth. I feel like I am getting to know the world for the second time.
A sensory dinner in the dark
It’s time for an aperitif in the dark. After more than an hour, we find ourselves in a bar: me, the guide and the rest of the group. We are seated around a table, lulled by background music and ready to tell each other the emotions felt during the journey in the dark.
It’s weird to eat chips and peanuts without seeing them first.
Dinner in the dark , however, it’s really exciting. I am waiting for the dishes from the set menu to arrive without knowing exactly what awaits me. I feel inviting aromas and perfumes in the air, but I can’t guess what’s in the courses.
My plate arrives and I brush it with my hands to make sure I hit the mark with the fork. The first bite is an explosion of the senses.
It seems to enjoy traditional dishes from a new perspective: certainly better, more tantalizing, more enjoyable, more engaging. It all seems better, more intense, more real.
Before this experience, I thought that not seeing meant missing the beauty of things. A bit like living halfway, without being able to fully enjoy everyday life or share the most pleasant moments of your life. I was wrong.
I had forgotten the importance of details, those that cannot be seen with the eyes, but only through all the other senses.
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INFORMATION ABOUT THE STRUCTURE
Special dishes : There is a menu based on selected meat, curated by Giorgio Pellegrini of the historic butcher in via Spallanzani. The menu includes a starter, a main course and a dessert. It is always fixed and any requests for alternative dishes and special diets cannot be satisfied.
Wines / Beers / Drinks : A wide choice of wines selected by Marc Pavia of Grappoli and Luppoli.
Services offered : Sensory path with groups of up to 8 people
Other services: Ttheater in the dark, aperitif, café noir, tastings and events. Educational workshops for schools. Possibility of organizing workshops, events and training in the dark for companies
Covid-19 emergency measures