Seeing beyond the sight

With Felice Tagliaferri, the first floating exhibition accessible to people with visual impairments

Riccardo Benedini April 2023

The sensory tactile journey inaugurated together with the emerging actors of the 79th Venice International Film Festival and arrived at the Barcolana in Trieste brings a manifesto of accessible culture on its journey.

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To remind us that touch is also a form of storytelling.




Felice Tagliaferri is the third protagonist of “Artista a Bordo” (Artist on Board), a format I created to offer artists, designers and creatives from all over the world the opportunity to tell their stories through traveling exhibitions, interviews and real floating residences in the heart of Venice and the sea Mediterranean. An internationally renowned blind sculptor, Tagliaferri is a charismatic figure capable of transforming the objects he creates into unforgettable experiences to live. It was precisely his great affinity towards his artistic and human language that sanctioned our collaboration in September 2022. A date of extreme importance for the artist who, after a very long break due to Covid, was preparing to return permanently to the Peggy Guggenheim Foundation in Venice.

I could define his participation in “Artista a Bordo” (Artist on Board) as a rediscovery of senses and possibilities. They wrote about him: “his sculptures touch each other, listen to each other, speak with the texture of the materials, with the noise they make”.

The wonderful journey of the sculptor from Venice to Trieste was possible thanks to the enlightened patronage of the owners of the Turkish gullet Lycian Princess and to the merit of his friend Andrea Stella who introduced us. Indeed, it was precisely the famous sailor, known on the international sports scene for his many projects of an inclusive nature, who put forward the name of Tagliaferri for the completely unique project I had in mind: organizing an exhibition directly accessible to blind and visually impaired people in the middle of the sea.

A provocation that aimed to question the common parameters that define, in today’s society, what can or cannot be considered “accessible”, using the sea as a key to understanding it. The sea therefore, as a place from which one can be reborn and water as an ideal border beyond which only thought can define the extent of our limits. As Tagliaferri himself reiterated during an interview: “this journey is the demonstration that everything that we decide to be accessible in our minds can be defined as accessible”.



Felice Tagliaferri has undertaken since the end of the 90s a very personal artistic path which he himself summed up in the slogan: “Giving shape to dreams”. His creations are in fact unseen sculptures, which are first born in his mind and then take shape through the skilful use of his hands, guided by incredible tactile abilities.

Tagliaferri skilfully juggles the most diverse materials such as clay, marble, wood and stone which are treated and shaped with different techniques.

In 2006 the artist founded “Chiesa dell’Arte” (The Church of the Art), the first plastic arts school in the world directed by a blind sculptor. The goal of his traveling school is to organize courses aimed at people who wish to discover a new and alternative way of creating artistic forms, following Tagliaferri’s particular tactile-visual working method, in which:”you look with your hands and touch with the eyes”.

His commitment has always been aimed at everyone’s right to enjoy art, each according to his own possibilities, breaking down all kinds of physical and mental barriers and educating people to perceive disability not as a limit but, rather, as a different way of interpreting life.

Felice Tagliaferri collaborates on an ongoing basis with the Vatican Museums, the Omero State Tactile Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome, the Brera Academy, the Academy of Rome, the Guggenheim Collection in Venice and universities and institutions scattered throughout the world.

“The tactile exploration of each of my works reveals details that are not perceivable with the sole use of sight”

Felice Tagliaferri



“Vedere oltre la vista” (Seeing Beyond Sight) is the name the artist has chosen to inaugurate his traveling exhibition, involving numerous emerging actors of Italian cinema. The opening event was held on 7 September in collaboration with the Next Generation Awards, the award promoted by the Manintown magazine on the occasion of the Venice Film Festival. This splendid floating showcase has not only attracted a constant flow of journalists, institutional representatives, artists and university students but has also transformed the private port of Marina Santelena, a few steps from the Biennale Gardens, into a magical theater.

The visit of numerous friends of the Italian Union of the Blind and Visually Impaired was thrilling who, accompanied by guide dogs or in the company of their families, took part in the event as true protagonists of the language chosen by the artist to tell his story. Each visitor was welcomed in person by the sculptor, who guided his guests, by hand and with his voice, through a sensory journey capable of rediscovering those senses dormant by the dominant sense of sight.

The installation consisted of twelve marble sculptures arranged on the large deckhouse of the boat and allowed guests to walk around it.

To choose which works to bring on board, I was inspired by the great sense of irony that characterizes this artist and his contagious positive approach to life. Among the many works, we could therefore find unusual figures such as a heart with two large ears or a breast supported, as if it were a temple, by many arches. Amazement and smile are the weapons that Tagliaferri prefers to break the ice and empathize with the public.

A human experience, even more than an artistic one, capable of transforming a thirty-metre boat into a living room open to the intimacy of our emotions.




Among the many sculptures on board, there was one in particular that gave our journey an important symbolic value: “la Carta dei Diritti delle Persone con Disabilità” (The Charter of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities). Positioned on the bow of the boat, like a poster open to the horizon, Tagliaferri’s work is destined to go around the world today. The artist’s goal is to get it signed by each Head of State who, by engraving his initials with a hammer and chisel, will help to light it by a few grains of marble and thus make it more sustainable for everyone. The initiative has no equal in the world and thanks to Artista a Bordo the work was present on 9 October at the Barcolana in Trieste where Rai (Italian TV channel) dedicated a long interview to our project which, with its message, has already shown itself capable to overcome any distance and barrier.

Thanks to the support of the owners of the Lycian Princess, the Charter of Rights continues its sea voyage today.

Seeing beyond the sight

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