INTER/rotto – IN/finito Seminario

8 unexplored possibilities that give new
shape to Reality. To ask again ‘How could it be instead?’
The seminar was held in parallel with the inauguration of the
UCRONIA – SPAZIO DEL DIVENIRE exhibition, about Gian Battista Piranesi,
Antonia Sant’Elia and Aldo Rossi. ELISABETTA BARISONI
Ca’ Pesaro, Head of office Elisabetta Barisoni: Salotto Longhena as
we always thought about our initiatives of collaboration between MUVE
– Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia MUVE and IUAV as a meeting place, a parlor
where discussions could take place. And most of all, to discuss about
Architecture. I thank you because I consider this is an important occasion,
for them and us too, of dialogue. I believe it was a formative experience
as it was for us. I am curious to hear what the speakers
of the seminar INTER/rotto – IN/finito have to tell us, and specially
thanks to Nicolò Zanatta and Anna Ghiraldini. Thank you. NICOLÓ ZANATTA – Organizer Nicolò Zanatta: Good morning everybody
and thanks for coming. We are absolutely honored of being hosted in such
magnificence as the hall of Ca’ Pesaro. The INTER/rotto – IN/finite seminar
originates from the necessity, a most urgent one we feel, of rethinking our
present. We asked anybody to show us some examples that would go behind
reality, that would indeed be capable of reshaping reality. This because, as
written in our call, any fantasy, any fable, any utopia is still part of the
ongoing process of reality-making. ANNA GHIRALDINI – Organizer Anna Ghiraldini: Good morning to all too.
We are extremely happy and honored to be in this prestigious venue where we both
had our chance of leaving a mark. CHIARA BUCCOLINI, ANNA SANGA
Utopia and Revolution, Anna Ghiraldini: I would like then to
invite here Chiara Buccolini and Anna Sanga. Anna Sanga: We came to the conclusion
that, in our opinion, the utopian project is usually made by a single architect and
what it produces is an image. It does not matter whether this constitutes of a text,
a drawing or any other kind of material, as it interprets the future via a whole
and is not comprised of parts. On the
opposite, the revolutionary project that
are usually collective-produced and create a system. Chiara: An example of the first is the
Monumento Continuo by Superstudio in the late ‘70ies and the other is the
prototype of the Maison Dom-Ino by Le Corbusier. The Maison Dom-Ino is
indeed a system because, as already mentioned by Anna, infers rules. The
image of the Monumento Continuo by Superstudio, on the other hand, gives a
precise idea of the future it implies and does not leave much space up for
interpretation, only straight up copies of itself. This does not happen with the
Maison Dom-Ino as we can imagine an infinite amount of variations. Anna: It is not only the collective
making of the project itself, as the Monumento Continuo would imply, but that,
even if Le Corbusier is a single architect, he was part of the
International Style movement that was collectively organized. We cannot say
that about Superstudio. Their production was of a much more punctual nature in our
opinion and it lacked models or rules to follow, by its very nature – and we come
back to the difference between simple images and acting on reality. It’s a
self-conclusive process. Chiara: Nowadays there are a lot of
utopian projects, and a lot is forgiven to them. The International Style movement
had some very concrete and evident effect on the shape of our cities and for this
it was harshly criticized. The search for responsibility is something that affects
all of us. No one is responsible in the
utopian project. Nicolò Zanatta: Few other times in
history there was such a perfect embodiment of the spirit of its time as
in the Maison Dom-Ino. Could it be that the Superstudio’s project had the same
qualities, embodying the spirit of its time, of sixty years later? Anna: Usually the utopian project stays
confined inside a specifically architectural discourse, while the
movement, by having tangible effects on reality, is more in tune with the
spirit of its time by influencing reality
directly. Chiara: Ignoring reality altogether will
never produce an embodiment of the spirit of the time. Question: Are you criticizing the legitimacy
of the utopian project? Chiara: The point is to differentiate
between the two and to clarify that something really revolutionary what
produces a system instead of a
single instance. LORENZO LAZZARI – Paradise Garage Anna Ghiraldini: Now Lorenzo Lazzari. Lorenzo Lazzari: I will present a
different kind of time. The experience of the suspension of historical time. We are
in New York in the late ‘70ies, precisely in Lower Manhattan, 84 of King St., where
a garage was converted into a club called Paradise Garage. Here some very
particular parties will take place for more than ten years. These are the U.S.A.
of the ‘70ies, suffering the effects of deindustrialization when most of the
white middle-class has already escaped towards the suburbs. The Paradise Garage
was a place open to all people, especially minorities: homosexuals,
African Americans or Latinos. Minorities that could not find any space in the
mainstream society and had no space in their historical time. In the Garage they
would form a temporary community, giving shape and meaning to the space they were
occupying, celebrating their own individuality and their being part of a
community at the same time. This is what Rancière defined as an instance of the
political, the ability of making shapes, spaces and times of the collective action, where
the roles usually assigned in society are subverted. From Dostoevskji: “You believe
in the crystal palace, eternally indestructible, that is, one at which you
can never stick out your tongue furtively nor make a rude gesture, even with your
fist hidden away.”. On the opposite the Underground is where
nothing is visible but everything is possible, where sticking your tongue out
is an achievable transgression. The Underground is where the Carnival, as
defined by Stallybrass, can take place, a ritual topsy-turvy of societal norms,
where authority and power can be defied. The festive action instead is the
celebration that allows the suspension of the historical time: the action of the
festival is the time of the festival. Thus, the act of forming a community is
itself auto-celebratory. The participants are exceptionally human as everybody else
in the moment of their utmost difference. It was via the actions that took place in
that garage that a whole community created its own space, physical but
mainly political, giving shape to something that would not have been
possible in what the white middle-class had left behind. Bodies took position in
the space they claimed for themselves, they were giving shape to space and not
the other way around. They were taking advantage of what was already present,
the void. Deleuze said that ‘the void was never opposed to the particles it is
traversed by’ but more than just traversed, this void must be filled:
filled with bodies expressing actions that give newfound meaning to the space. Nicolò Zanatta: Can the Paradise Garage
be considered as materialization of the spirit of its time? Lorenzo Lazzari: I think it is actually
the complete opposite. Before me Anna and Chiara talked about ‘revolution’, not
‘revolt’. Instead, when we talk about the Festival as Furio Jesi meant it, the
closer metaphor for it is exactly the Revolt. The Revolution is fully inside
its historical time while the Revolt is not. It originates and dies in the same
day, as a Festival. We would find ourselves in a city that could be the
same as before, or better or worse. In a Revolution we know that the new
conditions will continue in the following days. The Revolt uses the techniques of
its time and subverts them but only inside the perimeter of the Festival,
in its own holy precinct. FEDERICA SALA – L’utopie de l’Image Anna Ghiraldini: Next Federica Sala. Federica Sala: Japan possesses its own
utopian tradition. This is an analysis of ideas and instances of Japan’s utopian
reality with photography as a medium. Kinkinsensei eiga no yume is one of the
first examples of kibyōshi, illustrated travel stories of the Edo period. In this
case the protagonist is teleported literally into another world, another
reality opposed to its original one. In the same way, we can think of the camera
as a similar device. I decided to start from the imperialist expansion of Japan
in Asia, especially from the propaganda images captured by Fuchikami Hakuyō,
editor and photographer in Japanese occupied Manchuria. His visual rhetoric
is quite pictorialist, with the aim of
evoking a sense of timelessness,
a plane on which the Japanese bourgeoise could project itself, without facing the
violence of the occupation. Pictorialism and constructivism as
influences are visible in images such as this, simply called Oil. These photos presented a conciliatory idea of the Manchurian occupied
territories, thus pushing a myth of racial harmony, the gozoku kyōwa.
From a safe distance, the bourgeois audience could consider itself as
emotionally participant to the process of industrialization and imposition of
order while also finding a sort of nostalgic return to the past. Completely different is what was
presented by the Provoke collective. From the ‘30ies I am moving directly
in the ‘70ies. As seen, the utopia of the propaganda presented some kind
of escape. The photos by the Provoke collective
instead proceed towards the complete deconstruction of the idea itself of
photography, where the utopian space is not the one represented, or the city
but the photo as an object in and on itself. This is achieved via nervous and radical
style. The collective fight against the notion
of photography as vehicle of meaning. These images then explore territories that
are precluded by other media. Fighting and criticizing the idea
of meaning and interpretation in a similar way to what Roland Barthes
did in Empire of Signs. For example, Nakahira Takuma’s
For a Language to come shows images that cannot be judged. Moriyama Daidō photos instead refute
the idea of any narrative scheme of a consequential flow of images. Fukushima’s disaster on March 2011.
These are montages, explicitly showing the fracture between the shots,
uchronic compresence of present and past. Kawashima Takashi here shows us a future
without human presence. The subverting of visual codes is
possible and other possible alternatives can be searched. The role of the image is
fundamental but there is no particular Japanese specificity in this.
This is very important when Japan is already considered as Utopia, as
something stereotypically Other from
The utopia conservative of the resistance Anna Ghiraldini: Now I would like to
invite on stage Martina Fusaro and
Ugo Mondini. Martina Fusaro: Moving back to the time
in between the 14th and 15th century A.D. we focus on the analysis of the
cultural development of the fortified city of Mystras. The rise of
John Kantakouzenos to power led to a widespread conservatism reflected
onto byzantine art production too. Under John Kantakouzenos rule, the
Hellenistic-influenced freedom of the previous period was progressively lost.
The laic spirit that developed directly in contrast to the ottoman empire’s push. Thusly Mystras became the focal point
of a new period that we argue could be called Palaiological Renaissance. Mystras acts as a bubble,
some kind of ‘other’ context, where the cohesion of its
frescos’ composition and iconography shows a visible continuity with the
provincial figurative tradition of the 13th century. This permanence of
traditional iconography, mixed with a new and renovated artistic lexicon,
produce some unique frescoes. Let’s jump to the Pantanassa Monastery
that constitutes a perfect model of Mystras’ style. We can record an attempt at experimenting
with spatial distribution, giving newfound importance to color and
light instead of perspective and organization of space. Color
and light that becomes integral part in the making of frescoes. It is also
evident a direct inspiration to gothic,
almost Giottesque, motifs that the
authors of the frescoes must have seen in
their travels to the West. Ugo Mondini: I would like to talk about
Gemistus Pletho in relation to what Martina just exposed.
Pletho, being a Platonist, brings back Plato’s Utopia through his dichotomic
worldview separating the intelligible order and platonic forms as opposed to
the sensible world, where the eternal elements act as originating principles.
His aim is not to create a mystical eternal world, as the humanistic
neoplatonists will do. What matters to Pletho is his analysis
of the world that implies a complete subversion of the basic assumptions
of his time. Pletho needs to discard those deities,
in the form of the saints that were used as life models in the byzantine society.
Pletho decides to remove those pre-existing superstructures,
in the Marxian sense, in an attempt to create a new order in a decadent
society. Through his Hellenism,
Pletho tried to give shape to a cultural resistance.
Going back to an utopian level, and not a revolutionary one,
as explained by the first speakers, he was trying to create a
new political structure that could serve the king. What remains of
Pletho is a forma mentis of looking at what the past has to offer to help us
in the most dire moments. Nowadays, when everything has been
deconstructed to its most extreme, maybe rebuilding some meaning while
looking at past forms could be a viable utopian or revolutionary path. Nicolò Zanatta: Exactly when the crisis
is at its highest point we can radically rethink our reality. Martina Fusaro: The spirit of the time
as speculum aevi, as mirror of its time, the time that the authors of the frescos
and Pletho were living. If I am not mistaken, the utopia is
subconscious, some sort of
haunting presence. We are our speculum aevi. GIACOMO PALA – Para-Realism Anna Ghiraldini: Now Giacomo Pala. Giacomo Pala: Starting from the Call,
I quote: “Against the barren hegemony of Real/Realism, we raise the
itality of the Other.”. I think this vitality cannot be found
outside of Reality. Maybe the distinction between what is real and what
is not, is not as defined as we think. This subject can be found in a sadly
topical book by Ernst Bloch, Heritage of Our Time.
Facing the complexity of Reality, Bloch affirms the idea that
Architecture should be expression of the most advanced technological
processes of any given time. The problem is that what Bloch
considers ‘progressive architecture’, is not necessarily progressive.
Mies Van der Rohe, just to name one, built the monument to Rosa Luxemburg
while trying to sell the same style to the Führer.
A contradictory complexity is always present, as captured by Jean-François
Lyotard in 1978 with his definition of ‘parachronism’. Somebody
like Patrik Schumacher claims that, in spite of everything, Architecture
ought to be expression, and in his case fetishization, of cutting edge
production processes; others like Franco Stella in Berlin, sustain the
notion that Architecture should go back to absolute, immutable, metahistorical
values. To tackle this let’s take a good look at the idea of Reality itself and at
the concept of realism. Again, Jean-Françcois Lyotard comments
(Jacques) Monoroy’s works as a series of image referred to an
apathetic mass and in this they find their ‘realism’.
Consequentially ‘realism’ could be identified as ‘pararealism’, the invention
of Reality via speculation. Giovanni Battista Piranesi in each
and every one of his works, despite of what Manfredo Tafuri and Aureli say,
creates a new meaning of History, reinvents History.
He sold these pieces as original roman antiquities while they were actually
a combination of ancient elements and his own original creations.
A rebalancing of History by considering it in a uchronic sense, a fictional
reconstruction of History. The Campo Marzio can be read through this
lens: the Pantheon, in the middle of this image, is in its real position
in Rome, as for the circuses, while all around a fictional version
of Rome exists. In these pages he represent his finding of the urban
plan of Rome: what is shown is not a floor plan directly but the
representation of it. Like saying ‘I found this map and
let me show it to you’. There’s this idea of ‘realism’ with an
extra layer, a kind of ‘pararealism’, the reconstruction of ‘realism’ as an
internal aspect of Reality. I think this is an interest way of
tackling Thatcher’s realism. Nicolò Zanatta: It is exactly the
concept of ‘Reality’ that does not have any defined border, limit that
cannot be surpassed or respected Giacomo Pala: We hear those that on one
side push for the digital revolution, where we have to embrace these new
tools even when they do not produce anything; on the other
hand we have those that like to pretend that these changes are not happening.
Nothing says that we are to choose between one or the other. We need
new tools. I cannot see why, if I can give new meaning to History,
I should refrain from using both History and imagination. BABAU BUREAU – Scaling Micronations Anna Ghiraldini: As representative of
Babau Bureau, we will now hear
from Stefano Tornieri. Stefano Tornieri: Favara is a small
town in Sicily where we were invited along with other artists
and designers. What would happen if Favara were to become a micronation?
And what are the parameters which the idea of nation is based on?
We tried to record some aspects strictly regarding design, dimensional
ones particularly, which are the bases for our profession.
This is called the Isola delle Rose, a platform built by an Italian
engineer in the ‘60ies on the Adriatic coast around Pesaro,
Fano. Kind of an interrupted utopia, it was an attempt at rejecting
the given system of its time. Giorgio Rosa wanted to build a
community of people interested in a different world,
isolating themselves obviously, and creating new ‘terrain’.
As architects we work with measures, scales, dimensions.
Is there a real size with which we can clearly define the
concept of nation? Peter Eisenman has worked
with the idea of scaling: given a house, how much
can I resize it and still call it a house? There is this idea
that ties form, dimension and meaning together and that seems applicable to
territorial entities like nations. This is the Garbage Patch State,
a nation, a conglomerate of shit, of plastic waste produced by
humanity in the middle of the Pacific. It’s not really measurable as it c
hanges its shape each day, depending on currents. It does although
present a section, a geology. It is a State as in 2013
the United Nations recognized its status. It is a federal State made by five
different conglomerates. Inhabitants, none. Artificial soil,
one hundred per cent. The last case is Hermicity.
A digital platform that harbours a community of people subscribed to
its website. They voluntarily decide to become hermits by living inside
their flats with no outside interaction with other people, save for those
mediated through the web on Hermicity. The site becomes their only
what to interact and receive information with the world.
They receive food and provisions by drone delivery exclusively.
This is the epitome, kind of an absurd one.
This was our dimensional journey that led to recognizing,
without reaching any definitive conclusion, that there is
a relation between dimension, form and meaning. FALA ATELIER – Living in limbo Anna Ghiraldini: Unfortunately our
next speakers, Fala Atelier, could not attend today.
They sent us some quite interesting material about
their life in the Nakagin Capsule Tower. They reported their experience
of living in what can be described as a truly radical architecture
in Japan. It is a tower entirely made of these very
small capsules, these washing-machines, that made us think about the concept
of Existenz Minimum, the living space needed for a person.
Here you can see the rooms, standardized in size and furniture, that
nonetheless were somewhat customized by each inhabitant. The building itself
is located in some sort of threshold of Tokio, as on the edge must be the
experience of living there. RITA PRIORE – The floating city Anna Ghiraldini: As our last speaker,
Rita Priore. Rita Priore: I will talk about
Constant Nieuwenhuys utopian project, New Babylon.
Born out of almost twenty years of research by the
Dutch artist, from 1956 till 1974. Hilde Heynen defines it as
‘the most complete and developed counterpart to functionalist
architecture’; for Mark Wigley, that wrote extensively on Constant,
New Babylon constitutes ‘the most complete formulation of social space
that foster the coming of a new human being, a new way of living in
a community’. Costant was part of a group of artists called CoBrA.
After the Second World War, during the reconstruction period,
intellectuals and artists, wanted to use this chance to rethink at
the ideas on which the reconstruction was being based on. Now we are in
Alba in 1956, during a seminar organized by IMIB. This seminar was attended by the
artist that the following year would establish the Situations International.
Pinot Galizio is another fundamental character as he will allow Constant to
make contact with another reality in Alba, that of the local Sinti community. From
this contact will emerge the Parco stabile per i gitani di Alba project, designed as
a central space, a giant tent for its nomad inhabitants. Third crucial figure
for the theory behind New Babylon is Johan Huizinga, Dutch historian
author of the book Homo Ludens about the social function of the
‘play element’. The human being described in Homo Ludens becomes
for Constant the new and natural inhabitant of the imaginary city of
New Babylon. In a future where automation has become totally responsible in the
production of goods, the homo ludens, freed from the burden of labour,
is also free from permanent residency in a given place. Constant and
Yona Friedman were first at theorizing about the suspended city: levitating
above reality in a declared critical position towards it. Pieces of existing
cities, rebuilt and repurposed into a giant web. Constant imagined that
New Babylon would spread through sectors that would slowly attack
pre-existing cities. The yellow sector is where we see different spaces and
different functions mixed together, where even domestic spaces are fused
with communal spaces. According to Constant, the homo ludens
would then spend most of its time giving always new shape to the form of its city.
It is a city labyrinthic in nature. Constant will not only become a direct
reference for any architect working on utopian project but for Dutch
architects in general too: both OMA and MVRDV took great inspiration
from Constant’s work, although only on a formal level.
At the moment we are not living in the reality imagined by Constant but
in some respects we are not that far from it. And by getting
further away, we see a city suspended in space
and time, floating like a cloud, refusing to be
contaminated by reality, conserving its radicality. Nicolò Zanatta: Thanks. Follow us on Facebook to stay
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