item7
LondraBrecciacontemporanea60x200cm

Londra, Breccia contemporanea
from project:
Palaces of Words
Photographic print on a collage of vintage book pages.
Op. n. 1/3, 2014,
cm 60 x 200 x 4
Private collection

 

gb1606a

Palaces of words

Alessandra Frosini, Art historian

Streets, squares and buildings are common features of everyday life – fundamental elements that represent us, that show us for what we are.

Nicolò Quirico constructs the essential constitutive parts of every metropolitan space as images devoid of self-referentiality, by capturing them through a gaze which grasps the vital flow that springs from them or is concealed within them.

These fragments of cities come alive the moment in which they are apparently no longer contaminated by any human presence. They reveal the life that constitutes them: an intimate and arcane life, as it emerges from the present, steeped in history. The focus is on those concealed elements which encapsulate our existence as a whole – not just our private life but also our public one, our relations with others. Cities thus show themselves as a web of spatial and programmatic events, whose nature is that of a constant flux that is often unmeasurable, incomprehensible and unpredictable.

In these images space is never taken for granted, but must be contemplated and acknowledged in order for it to speak to the eye, so as to disclose the hidden life of places that constitute points of departure and of arrival, venues for reflection on the city and our existence within it. What we have here is the charm of the perceptible side of cities grasped as an enchanted reality. Quirico reconstructs this reality by taking photographic snapshots that are enriched with – and connected to – its various aspects through cultural references to the places portrayed and the use of texts as a medium for the photographic prints. Following Quirico’s itineraries as enthralled spectators, we suddenly catch a glimpse of architectures that illustrate the many facets of the city as a sum of variants, recording unexpected movements and mysterious convergences.

Life and memories mingle through streams of words surfacing from behind the pictures: voices and sounds, stories and thoughts, which through collages made from the pages of vintage books emerge out of the photographic prints. Books and the material they are made of are a crucial part of Quirico’s work.

They create a dense web of correspondences through their characters and layout, echoing the geometries of buildings – almost lending substance to their structure. These books are “disassembled” in order to be reassembled; through words, they are built like palaces, displaying iconic characters on sheets that always fold and overlap in a unique way, so as to create works that are never the same.

The relation between inside and outside, between distance and proximity, and the synthesis of image, life and memory open up each frame to encompass ‘other places’, leading the viewer’s gaze towards things and the interior of things towards the viewer’s gaze, expanding it in all directions. Perception cuts through reality and extends so as to include what according to our sensory and intellectual habits is the only reality, through photographs that reconfigure the balance between concepts and images in a clear and detailed way.

Quirico’s works blend real images with dreamt and constructed ones, ciphered images with numerous possible interpretations to be intuited and discovered, starting from the horizon of a city.

They invite us to discover the most unpredictable sides of beauty by adopting unusual points of view, vantage points that are all the more valuable because they are vital, and whose charm lies in their capacity to convey a feeling of playful intellectual wealth.


The town voice

by Simona Bartolena, Art historian

“Cities, like dreams, are made of hopes and fears” writes Italo Calvino in his book The invisible towns. When you look at Palazzi di parole – Palaces of words of Nicolò you cannot avoid thinking to these words and believe that towns, more and more similar the one to the other, if you look at them, listen to them… they answer to your questions. The town voice, this is what this project is concentrating on. Like Wim Wenders angels, we look at the town from an unusual perspective, we reach its heart and listen to a voice, to its thousand voices. A babel of voices: sounds, words, rumors, …whispers, shouts, thoughts and memories. In a simple word, Life, yes, because first of all a town is a vital place, a dynamic place, always changing.
Nicolò has stolen the soul of the town, sometimes by chance, just holding on to its various buildings that belong to different periods, built for different lives but all correlated to each other and nearly melted in one element, all sharing the same nervous and restless rhythm of the urban.
From historical palaces to unknown buildings, the artist’s eyes move from here to there, between streets and lanes, near and far, Milano, Lugano, Como,…
His eyes are not caring about the architectural aspects or celebrity, nor look. In a click, he is capturing life, the life that has been spent and still has to come in these buildings, to hundreds and more stories that have been told among those walls. Nicolo’s buildings are made of men, lived by men. At first sight, these buildings seem all the same, monolithic with no life or beauty, cold and static objects, without virtue… but, let’s leave aside for a while our know-how, forget about the importance of Architecture in history, let’s forget about reasons and research that sometimes are hidden behind the design of these buildings. Let’s look at them from the every-day people’s eyes: high buildings, surrounding and pressing on them. There is no interest for their innovative and elegant shapes, like the Torre Velasca, or basic and useless of a suburb block of flats: they will look at them as not-animated block of buildings, sad big cathedrals built on a modernity project. Nicolo’s eyes have left apart these aspects, crossed-over walls, cement and stones. He has listened to voices. Voices trapped inside but that can witness the life of people that have lived there for days, months, years or for an eternal life.
Nicolò is used to projects that go beyond the boundaries, projects where Art and Literature dialogue together. He has imagined these building like an ultrasound machine to capture the echo of people and with a trick, buildings become alive through words printed on books pages, books printed on the buildings’ period. Buildings voice becomes loud and visible and it shows the town soul. In between picture and painting, Palazzi di parole, Palaces of Words provide sight, sound, touch, even smell sensations of familiar but sometimes granted images.
A project based on palaces built years ago but that would like to invite everybody to think about the actual urban spaces, to reflect about the role of Architecture today, a project that seems winking to architects in order to invite them to reflect and think about a more “human” space, more reachable and in connection between users and the surroundings.
This project is not only a visual art-work but it would also like to open and develop discussions among architects and people, through a wide, critic, wise and global reality that surround us.


Visible cities

by Giacomo Ambrosi, philosopher

«But what made every fact or news told by its inarticulate informer to Kublai more precious was the space that kept surrounding them, an emptiness not filled with words. The descriptions of cities visited by Marco Polo had this quality: that you could wander in them with your thoughts, loose yourself in them, stop and take some fresh air or run away». 1

When one decides to start one’s journey through Nicolò Quirico’s Palazzi di Parole (Palaces of Words), the first sensation is the one of a magic estranging. What seemed, upon a first and superficial glance, simple photographs of buildings begin to liven up, to pulse, to come alive; the buildings of Quirico start to vibrate, we feel the beat of their existence. Only then we become aware that what livens up and makes these buildings expressive are the pages of vintage books on which the photographs of the artist have been printed. It is really from this original vibration that these Palazzi di Parole open their doors to us, unfolding a space in which you can «wander in them with your thoughts, loose yourself in them, stop and take some fresh air or run away», as it happened to Kublai Kan while hearing Marco Polo's stories in Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino.

Immediately the essential question raised by the artistic work of Quirico comes up: what is the essence of these vibrating buildings? We could better say: what is holding and what is held in these buildings that become alive upon our look? What is skeleton and what is flesh? Is architecture a skeleton offering the foundations that contain the words (Palazzi di Parole) or do the very words become architecture, making up a building (Words-building)?

The magic and charm of Quirico's works comes from the knowledge that the only possible answer is: neither one or the other, or even better, both together. In the works of the artist, building and word are nothing but two sides of the same coin, two sides of the same fabric. Architecture (building) and culture (word) are the poles of a sole chiasmus that the artist reveals to us and invites us to explore: building and word continuously pouring into each other.

This is the reason of the vibrating nature of Quirico's images and stories.

However let's try to carry on with our journey. Italo Calvino himself could be guiding us; his Invisible Cities can provide us with a key to explore this chiastic relationship and understand Palazzi di Parole.

Palaces of Words

«In this wave that flows back from memories, the city is soaked like a sponge and dilates. A description of Zaira as it is at present should contain all of Zaira's past. But the city does not tell its past; it contains it as a hand contains its lines, it is written in the corners of the streets…»2

If we read the Introduction, Calvino shows us that this masterpiece which is Le città invisibili has been written little by little, almost like every city invented by the author, and that it has the name of a woman, like a poem. While working, the author collected cities in separate folders that were used to identify different themes (cities and memory, cities and desire, etc.). Finally 11 themes were chosen by Calvino. It seems to me that 3 of them can be a signpost in our journey through Quirico's Palazzi di Parole.

The first theme is The city and the exchanges. In Quirico's photographs the buildings are indeed shown as buildings of Words for the very reason that they remind us that first of all the building, the architecture, the city in which we live are all in dialogue. Buildings are alive because inside them the interaction and exchange of messages, that is life itself, take place, because inside them we talk, because they are meant to be – or become so unintentionally – the place of exchange of our words, of our meaning. Architecture is a bearer of words and Quirico shows its essentially social nature. No matter whether we are faced with masterpieces of city planning, designed for a society in which mankind has a central role, or ugly buildings generated by uncontrolled development, that condemns people to a grey prison: under all circumstances buildings always receive the words of our existence. Even the most alienating cases – in which the buildings are nothing but barriers where the city becomes the place of “incommunicableness” that is described so well in nineteenth century literature – only confirm the structural bond between building and word. We say that a city is not “on a human scale” when it denies human beings the possibility to express their nature of social animals, in continuous exchange and dialogue with their fellow creatures. In such cases the building becomes the possibility of a denied word and the city embodies that «hell» about which Calvino writes at the end of Invisible Cities: architecture denies people the possibility of meeting each other and by doing so it only denies itself.

The essential bond between architecture, word and exchange is enhanced by Quirico when he chooses to enrich his exhibitions by using sound: while moving through the exhibition and looking at his buildings, we can hear infinite dialogues going on, overlapping each other and in which people speak infinite idioms, which symbolize a world that is getting smaller and smaller and a city that is getting more and more multiethnic.

This flow of words that is the background of our visit pushes us towards a second Calvino theme: the city and memory. In fact, if the flow of words can evoke the whole of the infinite dialogues that animate the buildings and the city at the same time, it can also become the symbol of their stratifying in history. It therefore seems that what Quirico wants to tell us, is that his buildings are Palazzi di Parole not only because they receive the lives of the people who live inside them, but because they gather the sediments of their personal experiences. In being the space assigned to human life, the buildings also witness their going by; in their duration they preserve the traces that people leave there. The artist thus seems to say that first of all architecture is a book of memories and this seems, once again, even more true for the most humble buildings that do not have anything monumental. On the other hand, if the stories and events of those who have met each other in the buildings are gathered within them, travelling in a city means first of all travelling in time: architecture becomes the word of memory and history.

Words-palaces

«The glance runs through the streets like written pages: the city tells you everything you must think of, makes you repeat its speech, and while you believe that you are visiting Tamara you only record the names with which it defines itself and all its parts».3

The third theme of Le città invisibili that seems to have influenced Quirico's work is the city and signs. However, to face it means to be thrown directly into the reverse of that word-building chiasmus made of the same architecture-culture that we are analyzing. In fact, in the theme of the Cities and signs, it is words that come in close-up: the word (sign) is considered an architectural material and becomes the skeleton, the foundations of what will be built. Calvino proposes a subtle reflection on language that reveals itself as an ineludible medium of our experience: language filters and provides a structure to our view of reality, with words being nothing but the bricks with which our knowledge is built up and passed on. In this operation, a privileged role is played by writing and books, two elements acutely explored by the Italian writer, two elements that come back in Quirico's work. To all that is known to mankind, to the numerous perspectives with which we face the world, correspond the same number of cities: or better, cities are ways of describing the world, of talking and writing about it. Calvino could offer us the possibility to dramatically overturn the perspective with which we have looked at Quirico’s Palazzi di Parole so far: and what if we saw in the artist’s photographs, rather than buildings printed on book pages, book pages becoming a building? If his photos were also Words-buildings?

This assumption seems suggestive to me and shows another and more hidden meaning of Nicolò Quirico's artistic work.

Resuming, as we analysed the first side of our chiasmus, Quirico's work highlighted the structural bond between building and word, between architecture and culture, in such a way that architecture revealed itself as the place in which human life can express and stratify itself, thus becoming history and memory, if we change our view and go to the second side of the chiasmus, it is culture that reveals its originally architectural character. Quirico's buildings remind us of how experience – at least in the tradition of the Western world – is a building work, how culture is a system, how knowledge is originally an architecture. This is certainly true for the great classics: every work of genius forms a building; the pages of the best authors of an age build up a neighborhood; the bonds between the considerations of the great people of the past mark an intertwining of streets in that endless city, or better in those endless cities that are our culture. The same is true for minor works and the traces left by the people that live in what we often too superficially define history with a small letter. In the big universe of human experience there are city centers and suburbs, some buildings are bearing units, others are only corollary, and everything – like Calvino understood in such a subtle way – is rewritten, reorganized, rebuilt according to the perspective with which we look at the world. So it is this further warning which Quirico's buildings seem to whisper to us: the words of an age make up a building, they are the pictures of a moment in the history of mankind; human experiences crystallize and become architecture and people seem to wander around in this city continuously transient like the imperfect librarians of the The Library of Babel by Borges.4

A different Marco Polo

«There is one last distinction, a last difference between Nicolò Quirico's Palazzi di Parole and Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities which we need to stress. The great Italian author writes his novel by proposing a series of imaginary cities to us, so in this sense his cities are invisible. The places described by Marco Polo to Kublai Kan are the result of Calvino's imagination, although the author uses them to offer a bitter and concrete reflection on a modern city.»

Quirico's photographs, instead, are images of buildings that actually exist. His journey as an explorer is therefore once again, mirror-like and the opposite to Marco Polo's as described by Calvino. The buildings recounted by Quirico are all within reach, tangible; we can meet them, look at them, and experience them. They do not refer to the unknown borders of an empire that Kublai Kan will never be able to see and which can only be recounted.

However, in its ability to create estrangement, the buildings in Palazzi di Parole highlight something that we had forgotten and enable us to go back and look with a different view at the architecture which surrounds us. And truly, the chiasmus that Calvino invites us to investigate, emerges: Palazzi di Parole highlights the real meaning of architecture and makes it visible, which is to create a space where people can live. At the same time, Quirico’s buildings make the original architectonic character of the human experience visible. Every building is life that has been written and that is being written; each page of a book is a brick of the building of our culture. This is what Nicolò Quirico's photographs remind us of and show us.

His buildings are visible cities.

NOTES TO THE TEXT:
1. I. Calvino, Le città invisibili, Mondadori, Milan 2006.
2. I. Calvino, Le città invisibili, cit.; Zaira, from the series Cities and memory.
3. I. Calvino, Le città invisibili, cit.; Tamara, from the series Cities and signs.
4. In his story, The library of Babel, Borges imagines that the universe is nothing but an endless library: realty, with its endless worlds, is an endless series of books and the
person that finds themselves living in this surreal Babel, is nothing but an «imperfect librarian»; J.L. Borges, la Biblioteca di Babele, in Finzioni, Einaudi, Turin 1995.


Between classicism and bravery

by Roberto Mutti, Photographic historian

Architectural photography is a very specific genre whose characteristics make it particularly recognizable: the author, in fact, is in front of subjects that, due to their large size, pose shooting technical problems that are not easily solvable and that can only be overcome by resorting to professional cameras, able to avoid any perspective distortion. In this field, the history of Italian photography has an important tradition linked to the many artistic works of which the country is rich and whose photographic documentation began in the late Nineteenth Century with the works of several valuable photographers, among which, just to remember the most famous ones, the Alinari brothers, Giacomo Brogi, Giorgio Sommer, Tommaso Cuccioni, Carlo Naya. Thanks to their meticulous works, everyone had the opportunity to see landscapes, buildings, monuments, vestiges of the past even without moving, and it is necessary to point out that the art books still used in the Italian schools in the sixties reported Alinari’s photographs to illustrate the works of art cited. If, from a documentary point of view, this was and still is a very important contribution, contemporary photographers soon wondered what kind of aesthetics they had to embrace in order to avoid the risk of appearing repetitive for evoking past stylistic features.

The way out was an investigation able to gradually move away from pure documentation and to digress into the neighbouring expressive fields of creativity. From this point of view, the so-called Düsseldorf School directed by the Bechers was, with its front and strictly essential hootings in black and white, an essential point of reference also in Italy, as evidenced by Ritratti di fabbriche, the work that marked the debut of Gabriele Basilico at the beginning of the eighties. If we do not keep on analyzing a field where, with different proposals, authors like Olivo Barbieri, Vincenzo Castella, Mimmo Jodice and Luca Campigotto established themselves, it is because Nicolò Quirico should not be considered as an architectural photographer, despite he has confronted himself with architecture through an original and suggestive approach. Seen from a distance, in fact, his images seem purely descriptive, but if we look at them closely, they reveal an unexpectedly complex structure, which is the result of a personal investigation that takes into account many levels of expression but also solves the problem of shooting that, in order to be rigorous, does not have to show distortions, falling lines and other defects. Combining different media and making them communicate with one another, Quirico has posed his shootings of single portions of the building as a starting point and then has reassembled them in a collage which also refers, in the same way, to the graphic element. In Palazzi di Parole, this is the name of the whole project that he has worked on for some time, photographs are not printed on white paper as usual but on sheets of old books, so that fragments of sentences, sequences of short stories and opening words of novels overlap with architectural elements by creating not random references – though sometimes cryptic or mysterious – because the books were chosen by the author so to create a harmony with the subjects portrayed. The latest images that constitute a further stage of this investigation were all shot in London, thus posing the problem, well-known to designers and urban planners but also to the public, of the relationship between the classicism tied to the history of the city and the design bravery symbolizing the desire to look ahead, towards the future. More than answering the question or taking elements for an analysis, Nicolò Quirico gives his contribution by offering us his photographic visions with a great balance, which is essential to create matches between the red brick facades and the glass and steel ones, between Elizabethan buildings and skyscrapers, between the ancient towers and the contemporary gleaming pyramids. Also in this case we should not be satisfied by observing the photographs from a distance and appreciating their careful composition: the most attentive and curious observers will approach the works and try to decipher the words that are an integral part of them. Indeed, because certain sentences, dialogues and exclamations – the author suggests – still seem to hover within these buildings, giving them a vitality that has all to be investigated.


Parisian portraits

by Alessandra Frosini, art historian

“Paris is but a dream1” of a secret life that animates the city, made of stories, literature, music, of the past that merges with the present and of which, with great force, the irreducible and corporeal presence of the city is nourished. A unique poem that has inevitably imbued the stones of a city in constant transformation, that has inspired countless artists and writers over the centuries; Nicolò Quirico has been able to look at it and interpret it, through his inner eye, in order to offer us a distillate of history and vitality, revealing outside the inside of things.

In the series of works entitled Photo Paris, presented for the first time to the public, what we observe is a life ready to come alive unexpectedly and surprisingly, in a very similar way as it happens in La boîte à joujoux by Claude Debussy, a suggestion from which Quirico’s work on the Ville Lumière starts. In Debussy’s ballet, intended for the puppet theatre dedicated to children, the toys, taking advantage of the quiet of the night, come out of the box in which they are confined to live their independent lives, different from the one “known” by human beings, but to a large extent parallel to it, in which loves, battles and fights happen.

Under the lens of this double life, the works of PhotoParis also liven up, dominated by “urban theatre actors” and “silent toys”, moved by an imaginary “puppeteer” in the space occupied by visionary buildings that surprise us with their architecture and the daring glimpses with which they are proposed by the artist to the gaze of all of us: whale-buildings or rocket-palaces, constructions that are in relation among themselves, as a question and an answer, or that live in community or in an opposition of views and volumes.

Paris livens then up, experiencing the double reality of a real and dreamed city, whose magic seems to light up in the colourful figures that populate it: sculptures, installations and figures that abound in the city and that are apparently dormant, tough are ready to be discovered by the eye filtered from photography. Thus, instead of toy soldiers and dolls, are the red spider by Alexander Calder or Joan Miró’s characters, as well as the figures by Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint-Phalle in the Beaubourg fountain or from the pipes of the Centre Pompidou, from the Art Nouveau entrance news-stands of the metro by Hector Guimard, or the green chairs of the Jardin des Tuileries. Any tangible and visible form and every architectural detail is part of a labyrinth, a sign of a perspective that gaze carefully contemplates in order to find, after slow observation, the trace of a hidden path.

Thus we can perceive the voices coming from the apparently dumb palaces, of an architecture that should, as a discipline of the space organization of human beings, speak through its forms of the life of those who animate it. The palaces thus become containers, boîte à joujoux, for the citizens-toys, absent from these images, vague and hidden presences, of which we can just grasp the voices, ready to talk to us through the architecture.

To the true reading of the image, on the basis of extremely rational and measured criteria, this evocative reading is added, which refers to the memory and the possibilities related to the very existence.

At first it may seem that Quirico wants to focus the attention on a precise object, but then we realize that the intent is to lead us into an open and suspended world, where each element, showing itself, also shows something beyond, referring to an infinite bond of subtle correspondences, which we are asked to search. It is as if the frame opened on another place, that draws the gaze into things and the interior of the things towards the gaze, expanding it in all directions.

As in a microcosm, every image contains something that transcends contingent time and our narcissist rationalism, always tended to bend reality to our expectations. The search is oriented towards a view dominated by movements of gaze that are nourished of slow times, almost meditative, able to dig into the folds of reality, to bring out the echo of new memories and experiences almost removed.

Quirico’s works are contractions of the real image with the one dreamed and the one built, encrypted images with multiple reading possibilities to be guessed and found, starting from the horizon of a city. They are antidotes to the consumption rate of modern images, suggesting departures, entrusting a sort of “taste” that is accountable of totality without having to harm it, but rather triggering a reflection on the possible inter-crossing realities. This is why the photographs are identified in a pattern of Cartesian axes that create a geometric network of clear and meditated visions in which the images become the metaphor of a rational and humane path, inside the infinite multiplicity of experience.

In Photo Paris, Quirico confronts himself with a city that has always been at the heart of the collective unconscious and that includes an almost endless list of looks and hearts captured by its charm. Photography, which was born right here, on the banks of the Seine, has fed the city of requited love, and many photographers have portrayed Paris in its multiple forms: from Daguerre, who invented, together with Niépce, this new form of art, to Marville, Atget, Lartigue, Brassaï, Kertész, Ronis, Doisneau, Capa, Cartier-Bresson, Erwitt and many others.

Quirico’s voice is clearly added to these ones, with a search that is not focused on a condition of everyday life into which measuring oneself; his images capture us because they look at the city into its eyes, without concessions to the deliberately beautiful, calling us to a new discovery, which may take place on multiple levels. Moreover, the process of vision is always ambiguous and never closed, and as in his other cycles (London Calling, for example), the buildings that he realizes have an infinite possibility of cross-references, through images and written words, through the relationship between the reality and its past and future, as well as its possible interpretations. The technique is the one to which Quirico has accustomed us, one of its distinguishing marks: a complex structure of multiple shootings joined into a collage and printed on sheets of old books, unique works which, in this case, are “based” on books bought on the stalls along the Seine. Texts, not only in French, of literature, arts, but also engineering, indistinguishable and mostly unreadable, that constitute the hidden soul that rises at times, of the works he creates.

The image thus hides the evidence of a connotation linked to the verbal language, in which the overlap between iconic and non-iconic signs find a wise balance, which is embodied by a visual presence able to consider the life of shapes and people. One way to go beyond the language of photography and find time for a thorough look in order to get to understand the “operation” of the work, the subtle play of existing references. The pages of the books that are the basis of the works create a stream of indistinguishable voices, memory and life at the same time, that substantiate them and become their structure, making them unique pieces.

In a game backwards, at the end of our journey we got to the installation work chosen as the cover image of this catalogue: the flow of voices translates into a “palace of words” and is projected outside, to direct us towards Rue Simon-Crubellier n. 11, the imaginary street of the non-existing palace thought by Georges Perec in his novel La vie mode d’emploi. The events of this “hypertext fiction” are held in a block composed of ten floors of ten rooms each, shaping a double square of a hundred elements, whose front façade allows to view each room immediately and simultaneously. In the story, which proceeds as a knight in the chess game, each room will be touched but one, that will be the only one never occupied by any event told of the one-hundred-year life of the building. One hundred photos will make the simulacrum building of Rue Crubellier n. 11, a game of preparation and of signs that intersect, in the desire of distinguishing and seeing beyond the image: “Being or nothing, that is the question. Ascending, descending, coming, going, a man does so much that in the end he disappears. A taxi bears him off, a metro carries him away, the tower doesn’t care, nor the Pantheon. Paris is but a dream2”.

1-2 R. Queneau, Zazie nel metro, Einaudi, Torino 1970, p. 67.


Palaces of Words

by Sandro Iovine, Photographic historian

«The gaze scans the streets as written pages: the city tells you everything you must think, makes you repeat its discourse, and while you believe you are visiting Tamara you are only recording the names with which it defines itself and all its parts»*

The old western town, especially in Roman culture, inherits and realises the entire corpus of traditions and religious beliefs of the culture, which it has expressed in the building. The town plans and its development were, in other words, a symbolic form organised in function for the quest of harmony with God’s laws. Our cities instead tend to present themselves as «a fabric of buildings intersected by roads or as a grid of streets bordered by buildings in outlying areas and forming a full mesh in the centre, based on the division of the areas and road traffic» (1).

In what way, then, can a symbolic reinterpretation today face the urban landscape in its highest form of human activity, obviously represented by the urban territory?

In the face of urban expansions that see the introduction of architectural elements whose functionality prevails over other considerations, cities tend to lose that identity that defined the historical era in time. There is then the proliferation of buildings, of ravenous boxes that are nourished by time (2), which creates in the sensitive artist the phenomenon of his era, the need to recover the value of their traditions, to find the identitary roots of their own social living.

This restoration of identity cannot then pass through, therefore, a symbolic operation that sees buildings and monuments built or, rather, rebuilt iconically. The raw material can no longer be made of brick and concrete. The buildings are to be erected on the word now, that in images become printed, direct expression of the culture that created it.The books, material of a housing culture, become symbolically (and de facto, with their pages, as regards the realisation of the work) the basis on which you lay the foundations to rewrite the perception of the city. Here, then, that the buildings are no longer just a mere jumble of architectural vanity, but the expression of a combination of knowledge that are structured in the course of Western civilisation history.

The figurative superstructure – in itself highly symbolic – is therefore based on the word, the value of which equally symbolic opens perhaps another glimmer of thought, beginning to break the barrier of conceit typical of human beings, often unaware of the transient nature of its artifacts.

(from fpmag 003)

NOTES TO THE TEXT:
* Free translation from Italo Calvino, Le città invisibili, in Calvino romanzi e racconti, vol.II, Meridiani Collezione, Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, Milan, 2005; p. 368.
(1) - cfr. Joseph Rykwert, L’idea di città, antropologia della forma urbana nel mondo antico, Einaudi, Turin, 1981.
(2) - cfr. Stefano Boeri, L’anticitttà, Editori Laterza, Roma-Bari, 2011.

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