There’s A Crisis!
On a September day, after having spent some days of complete isolation at the seaside, I came back to my ordinary student life and I was sunddenly acknowledged that the world had changed. It was Autumn 2008 and the financial international crisis had its breakthrough. Since I’m always keen on understanding what’s happening in the world, I chose this event as the topic for my final degree project giving it the title Instructions for the time after now.
The final project, There’s a Crisis, is an alternative analysis of the recent economic crisis the way it was narrated and perceived in Italy in 2008-09. It is intended for making a comparison between the objective truth told by the media and subjective experiences of common people, in an attempt of underlining influences and differences intrinsic to each other.
By doing this, I employed graphics, interviews and pictures in order to represent and reconstruct the intensity of crisis-related news and visualize the different ranges of emotions that such a collectively lived event has brought into people’s life.
The work consists of a set of 3 books (analysis of newspapers, television and people’s impressions), illustrations inspired by mortgage flyers and a tarot set. It also comes with an research publication where theorical, journalistic and literary extracts as well as reference works of graphic designers and artists can be found.
In the book I Giornali I analysed the intensity of the crisis by measuring and exactly repositioning the space of the newspaper article on the front cover. I chose and tracked for 5 months a mainstream moderated newspaper for this, Corriere della Sera. The result is a story of appearance and disappearance, emphasis or minor importance and, most of all, the crisis is regarded here as a financial international problem, there as a political internal issue, or again as a social, wide-spread situation which has already existed in Italy since a couple of years.
People’s reactions to my questions differ a lot from person to person. When asking “What do you think of the crisis?” most of them refer to the financial and international credit-crunch, often reporting what they heard from the media. When, however, asked “Which kind of crisis are we talking about?” they would soon embark on very personal hypotesis and reflections with strong reference to their daily life, some pessimistic and some even optimistic.
The tarots set is a recollection of people, objects and landscapes based on the advertisements of the last page of Corriere della Sera ironically associated to tarot characters. They are products or services which are either suffering under the circumstances of the credit-crunch or gaining an advantage from it. No matter their position, they are still to be found in our daily information update and they are therefore part of it.
We usually disregard advertisiment because it’s visually emphatized and verbally charming – not exactly the kind of objective representation of the world we’re looking for. Though we forget that the same is done with the news – they are just words and pictures. This blurring bewteen fiction and non-fiction is the core problem in understanding our perception of reality. An essential reading on the topic is Aesthetic Journalism – How to inform without informing by Alfredo Cramerotti which has been recently published by Intellect in 2010.
There’s a Crisis is meant to be a consultation tool for further investigations which aims to approach the analysis of the present from the perspective of visual data instead of words or numbers. Furthermore, it questions the role of contemporary media and their responsability in shaping the public discourse and determining individual choices with particular regard to the Italian media landscape.
This final degree project has been supervised by art curator Emanuela De Cecco and graphic designer Christian Upmeier at the Free University of Bolzano-Bozen in March 2009 and subsequently displayed at Design Crisis during the Milan furniture fair. I personally wish to develop further and publish this project in the nearest future. I’m constantly researching on the issues of power, media and aesthetics with particular regard to Italy and I’m on the look for discussions and collaborative projects. I’m now based in Brighton, United Kingdom, where I’m working for mixed-media artists Heather and Ivan Morison and hope to soon start an MA in Art and Politics at the Goldsmiths College, London.
Further documentation: http://www.serenaosti.com/
C’è crisi Project: http://www.serenaosti.com/indexhibit/ce-crisi/
[We are welcoming Meira Ahmemulic as professionaldreamers' Guest Artist, with an art project inspired to Berlin. Meira is an artist based in Berlin and Gothenburg. Most of her work uses the city as point of departure. She is a collector of signs, stories, coincidences and occurrences. Walking through the city is for Ahmemulic an act of writing, the city being a language in itself, and her artistic practice can be seen as a constant dialogue with the city as place, space and phenomenon]
The Berlin Trilogy is based on the American action movie The Bourne Supremacy (2004), the second movie in the film trilogy about Jason Bourne, a former assassin for the CIA. During an unsanctioned operation for the CIA Bourne falls victim to amnesia. Throughout the movie he tries to regain his memory while revealing the conspiracy within the CIA. In the Berlin Trilogy two actors reenact scenes from The Bourne Supremacy, mainly shot in Berlin. They are corrected and trained by a former American soldier who worked as a Russian linguist at Field Station Berlin, the biggest listening post set up by the Americans in Europe during the Cold War. As the actors repeat the scenes discrepancies appear, scenes are altered, lines are confused, bombs detonate. It becomes uncertain which side they are on and what their mission is.
The Berlin Trilogy consists of three movies Avus Supremacy (2009), Training (2010), Collateral Damage (2010). It is set at four locations important for transportation, historically and in the present: AVUS, Friedrichstrasse, Zoologischer Garten and Alexanderplatz. Friedrichstrasse was a major border crossing between East and West Berlin during the Cold War, located in East Berlin it was still served by local trains from West Berlin as well as long distance trains from countries west of the Iron Curtain. Zoologischer Garten was the main transport facility in West Berlin during the division of the city. Alexanderplatz is the central underground railway station in the city, above it is a public square where the demonstration on the 4th of November 1989 was the largest in the history of East Germany. AVUS stands for Automobil-Verkehrs- und Übungsstraße GmbH, and means ”Corporation Car Transport and Practice street”. AVUS opened in 1921 as the world’s first highway, which included a nineteen kilometer race track, and became a symbol for German technology and modernity. The Nazis later used the AVUS for propaganda. The last race was held in 1998. Today the AVUS is part of the Autobahn. The former Northcurve of the racetrack is used as a parking space for trucks and buses. Recently Berlin sold the tribune on the AVUS, as the cities finances are strained and it cannot afford to maintain it. The tribune was bought by a business man who wanted to turn it into a museum for cars, but after he went bankrupt the tribune was left in a state of bad repair.
In the original movie The Bourne Supremacy directed by Paul Greengrass there are two scenes shot on the AVUS. The first one is when a Russian secret service agent and assassin, arrives to Motel AVUS after killing two men to meet his employer, a Russian oil magnate, who gives him orders to kill Jason Bourne. The second scene is with Bourne driving a stolen BMW on the AVUS on his arrival to Berlin. Bourne stops at the AVUS Motel to clean himself up after a murder. (He just strangled his former colleague and blew up his house). Bourne walks downstairs, to the men’s lavatories, washes the blood off his sleeves and takes a long look in the mirror.
At Alexanderplatz Bourne meets with his former colleague Nicki to gain information about his past. He is on the run from the CIA, who is out to kill him and cover their tracks. The meeting is a trap, CIA has snipers and agents surrounding the Alexanderplatz. In the chaos caused by a demonstration Bourne manages to get Nicki down into one of the subway tunnels to interrogate her.
One of the movies chase scenes with stunt work and gunfire takes place at two stations, Friedrichstrasse and Zoologischer Garten, edited to look like one location. In this scene Bourne is caught up by his pursuers, assisted by the Berlin police. He manages to shake them off by jumping off a bridge onto a ferry, and escapes in the last second by getting on a train to Moscow.
See also: http://www.squidproject.net/english/participants/ahmemulic-meira.htm
© Daniele Pennati, 2005, Via Orsini – Quarto Oggiaro, 30x70cm inkjet pigment print, 70x100cm matted and framed
© Daniele Pennati, 2005, Via Cerkovo – Bovisasca, 30x70cm inkjet pigment print, 70x100cm matted and framed
© Daniele Pennati, 2005, Via Melchiorre Gioia, 30x70cm inkjet pigment print, 70x100cm matted and framed
© Daniele Pennati, 2005, Piazza Duomo, 30x70cm inkjet pigment print, 70x100cm matted and framed
© Daniele Pennati, 2005, Viale Brenta, 30x70cm inkjet pigment print, 70x100cm matted and framed
© Daniele Pennati, 2005, Via Fabio Massimo – Nosedo, 30x70cm inkjet pigment print, 70x100cm matted and framed
© Daniele Pennati, 2005, Via Toffetti – Rogoredo, 30x70cm inkjet pigment print, 70x100cm matted and framed
Faccia a Faccia. Viaggio attraverso i contrasti urbani
Il lavoro d’indagine esposto si propone come un percorso attraverso i differenti luoghi che compongono la città di Milano. Un percorso attraverso i contrasti e le contraddizioni che costruiscono la città stessa. Un viaggio da periferia a periferia, da nord-ovest a sud-est percorrendo un territorio variegato composto dai luoghi della trasformazione, della quotidianità, della residenza, del lavoro, del pendolarismo e del turismo.
Un territorio denso, denso di storia e denso di storie. Un territorio che è stato e continua ad essere al centro delle riflessioni sulla trasformazione e sullo sviluppo della città: dalle prime ipotesi sul “progetto passante” ai grandi interventi di Santa Giulia a Rogoredo, del Garibaldi-Repubblica e del PRU Palizzi a Quarto Oggiaro.
Il viaggio qui proposto è un racconto, quindi, per contrasti e di contrasti, che si sviluppa attraverso immagini doppie che descrivono le due facce di un stesso luogo: contrasti di forma, di funzione, di uso, ma anche di senso e di sentimento. Una città duplice qui narrata non tanto attraverso le pratiche che vi si svolgono quanto attraverso la possibilità accennata di quelle che possono o potrebbero essere ospitate dalle sue strutture, dai suoi contenitori.
Faccia a Faccia non vuole essere quindi un giudizio sulla città, né un elenco di “buoni e cattivi”, piuttosto è un riconoscimento alla natura cangiante di Milano e alle innumerevoli possibilità che essa offre; un tentativo di riconoscere nella contraddizione la “possibilità di fare” piuttosto che il “risultato di un errore”.
Daniele Pennati nasce a Milano nel 1982. È appassionato di fotografia e di stampa in camera oscura fin da bambino. Durante gli anni di studio universitario, alla formazione in pianificazione territoriale si è affiancata una profonda riflessione sulla fotografia come strumento di indagine ed interpretazione del territorio. Attualmente continua il suo percorso formativo frequentando il Dottorato in Urbanistica presso lo IUAV a Venezia, inoltre collabora come assistente e ricercatore presso il Politecnico di Milano.
More info: http://www.danielepennati.com
Sensity is an art project by the British artist Stanza, whose research is smartly located at the intersection of urban space, new media and surveillance.
About the project
Sensity. A series of artworks based on sensing the environment. The results are the visualisation and sonification of real time spaces. Sensity artworks are made from the data that is collected across the urban and environment infrastructure. The sensors interpret the micro-data of the interactive city. The output from the sensors display the “emotional” state of the city online in real time and the information is also used to create offline installations and sculptural artworks. These artworks represent the movement of people, pollution in the air, the vibrations and sounds of buildings. They are in effect emergent social sculptures visualizing the emotional state of the city.
More info at: http://www.stanza.co.uk/sensity/index.html
About the Artist
Stanza is an internationally recognised artist, who has been exhibiting worldwide since 1984. His artworks have won prestigious painting prizes and ten first prize art awards including:- Vidalife 6.0 First Prize. SeNef Grand Prix. Videobrasil First Prize. Stanzas art has also been rewarded with a prestigious Nesta Dreamtime Award, an Arts Humanities Creative Fellowship and a Clarks bursary award.
His artworks have been exhibited globally with over fifty exhibitions in the last five years including:- Venice Biennale: Victoria Albert Museum: Tate Britain: Mundo Urbano Madrid: New Forest Pavilion Artsway: State Museum, Novorsibirsk. Biennale of Sydney, Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo Mexico: Plymouth Arts Centre: ICA London: Sao Paulo Biennale:
His mediums include; painting, video, prints, generative artworks and installations. Stanza is an expert in arts technology, CCTV, online networks, touch screens, environmental sensors, and interactive artworks. Recurring themes throughout his career include, the urban landscape, surveillance culture and alienation in the city.
Some of Stanzas most well known projects include: – The Emergent City, visual artworks informed by critical analysis of city spaces. Genomixer is a series of online artworks made using the artists DNA sequence. Soundcities an online database system of thousands of city sounds and city maps. Sensity where Stanza has scattered hundreds of sensors across London to collect data about the environment. Urban Generation uses live CCTV and making online representations of the real time city.
Stanza researches data within cities and how this can be represented, visualized and interpreted as artworks. Data from security tracking, traffic, and environmental monitoring can has been used to make artworks. These investigations have created new ways of comparing, conceptualizing and then visualizing complex concepts related to the relationship of emergent data and real space in the built environment.
Stanza has made a series of modular artworks that express the possibilities for our data-mediated future. There are three strands to his working process; this involves collecting the data, visualizing the data, and then displaying the data. The outputs from the online interfaces and online visualizations have been realized as real time dynamic artworks as diverse as installations, and real objects, made out of new display materials re-located back in physical space.
In all his artwork he tries to exploit the changing dynamics of city life as a source for creativity to create meaningful artistic metaphors. Stanza utilizes new technologies and integrates new media artworks into the public domain as part of this ongoing research into the visualization of city space. In essence he is researching data as a medium for creativity and how new experiences of our cities may result.
His work has focused on new technologies and their relationship to urban space. In recent years he has spent time researching sensors, motes, CCTV, display technologies and interactive architectures. The body of work, ‘The Emergent City’ incorporates investigations into movements of people, the pollution in the air, the vibrations and sounds of city spaces. The archives of this data are controlled via bespoke online interfaces which have been re-formed and recounted into real time experiences, making emergent artworks.
All images are copyrighted by stanza (www.stanza.co.uk). Many thanks to the artist for the kind permission to reproduce here.
Le fotografie che ospitiamo appartengono al progetto Liquidscape.
Il progetto indaga il cambiamento di alcune città europee (Milano, Basilea, Londra, Zurigo e Napoli) attraverso la rappresentazione dei soggetti che vivono lo scenario urbano, colti nell’attimo della foto, ma restituiti nel movimento, nella scia dell’attimo che è già passato.
La dimensione del tempo che conforma e sedimenta gli ambienti è anche al centro della più recente serie Urban Levels.
E’ lui stesso a raccontarci il senso del suo lavoro ed il significato della tecnica ”Blu yellow Photoliquids” con cui lo realizza:
ITA “La ricerca che effettuo attraverso le mie foto si è sempre basata sulla interazione tra diverse forme di energie, siano esse causate dall’uomo oppure artificiali. La luce e la relazione che essa instaura con il paesaggio metropolitano è alla base della mia ricerca artistica. In un certo qual senso tale interazione è una forma di energia. L’uso del colore nelle mie foto è funzionale in quanto cerco di rappresentare con il blu ed il giallo due momenti diacronici, il prima ed il dopo, ma appartenenti ad un unico istante, cercando di cogliere le sovrapposizioni di forme.
Il colore è lasciato scorrere nel tempo mentre gli istanti passano veloci e sovrapposti alle cose, a rappresentare l’attimo che passa, che fugge senza essere visto. Lo spazio in relazione al tempo è creato da istanti che possono essere messi in sequenza. E’ l’interazione, la simbiosi, fra il luogo, spesso la strada, e l’umano ad essere presa in esame. L’elemento temporale diventa fondamentale, in quanto sono indagate le dinamiche con le quali lo spazio è percepito in modo differente attraverso lo scorrere del tempo individuato da ciascun fotogramma che è stato sovrapposto all’altro per ricreare l’immagine finale. Sono fotografie che colgono la presenza umana, rappresentando un soggetto che vive all’interno dello scenario urbano indagato attraverso una tecnica che ho chiamato ‘Blu yellow Photoliquids’. Tale tecnica permette di ricostruire scenari urbani in cui si mescolano differenti istanti e sovrapposizioni di forme.”
ENG “The search that I effect through my photos is always founded on the interaction among different forms of energies caused by humans or artificial. The light and the relation that it establishes with the metropolitan landscape is at the basis of my artistic research. This interaction is a form of energy. The use of the color in my photos is functional because with the blue and the yellow I try to represent two diachronic moments which belong to a single instant. The color is allowed to flow in time while the instants pass fast and overlapped to the things to represent the instant that passes, that runs away without being seen. Space in relationship to time is created by instants which can be put in a sequence. These pictures seize the human presence, representing a subject that lives inside the urban scenery, investigated through a technique that I have dubbed ‘Blue yellow Photoliquids’. This technique allows to reconstruct urban sceneries where different instants and overlaps of forms are mixed.”
More info: www.donatomaniello.com
Modernity Retired: Chicago five
Staffan Schmidt is an artistic researcher with a PhD in fine art. He lives in Malmo, Sweden and works at Malmo university. Here, we present his work in progress called Modernity retired (2009-), for which Staffan has been interviewing a series of elderly architects in different locations around the world on the topic of modern modern life forms. Staffan has also been involved, with Mike Bode, in the project Spatial Expectation http://www.valand.gu.se/spatial_expectations/se/index.html (2001-2006), whose aim was to examine visually and theoretically the built environment and its implications as a social space. As an artist, Staffan has recently participated in the exhibition Land Use Poetics (2009): http://www.adk.lu.se/en/index.php?id=131.
Staffan’s acknowledgements for Modernity retired: The interviews in the US were made possible thanks to gracious support from the Faculty of Fine, Applied and Performing Arts, University of Gothenburg, the Swedish Arts Grants Committee, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and The Mies van der Rohe Society.
Gertrud Kerbis, Chicago
She says that she never did this, never interviewed her father about his journey from Germany to Illinois, where he was looking to become what he once was, a farmer. The family was poor, they could not afford a car and she learned to drive before her father.
The November day is dark and the windows and skylight of her Chicago hose, rebuilt already many decades ago, seem even smaller than they really are. We sit in a one room living area: private home and public reception area at the same time. Mies’ Barcelona pavilion chairs are charmingly worn.
STAFFAN – But then you were a woman, you were a young woman. Also that you came from a family with limited resources.
GERTRUD – Yeah.
STAFFAN – So you had both of these?
GERTRUD – Unfortunately I had a double whammy, right? When I look back on my life, the more challenges you have it can make you a little tougher and you can survive. Now looking back I have no regrets having it a little harder than some of my male associates.
STAFFAN – Would you say that was a something significant of modern times? That you as a woman with that background had this possibility? Of developing your own interests and so on and so forth? Would that be a typical sign for modern time, that you as a woman… like a modern trade?
GERTRUD – Oh, like a modern trade?
STAFFAN – Yeah, you had that possibility?
GERTRUD – Exactly. I didn’t think about it at that time. At that time I was always saying that… in fact when I would do competitions and I would say my name was Gert… G-E-R-T. I didn’t want to be a woman. I had to be a… Gert is a man’s name in Germany, in some place, I don’t know. Anyway I thought it was more male sounding than Gertrud so anyway so that’s why I had to… I was always trying to pretend to be… that this was… I had to be acting like a male. And so I would swear and do all kinds of things to be tougher than probably I really was… I would be even more equal than of man in the drafting room and everywhere. So you just had… you sort of overcompensated. So it was kind of reversed. And then later on I did a very important talk to young people at University of Washington at St. Louis and I called it… Architecture: Male, Female and Neuter … anyways… I was very much aware of myself as a woman in this man’s field.
She was long ago married to a Bauhaus émigré, much her senior. We find him in a coffee-table size book. But before, and more importantly, spending a night as a good with maths arts student in a Frank Lloyd Wright building made her desire to become a modern architect. As a woman and without funds, she was a hard worker all along. When she got a house in Florida to escape Chicago winters it was reassuring to find out it had belonged to Betty Friedan.
The assumption that women know about food – that a female architect first and foremost a woman, and then a professional – followed her early career, receiving the assignment to design a huge canteen for the US Air Force, and the rotunda style restaurant area at Chicago’s O’Hare airport. She says her son can testify to her poor cooking: the kitchen is not more than a caboose. Later she decided to form her own office, successfully working with other women professionals. She is solidly independent.
Ken Isaacs, Granger, IN
He is fascinated with models, a bricoleur and an inventor with a distinct interest in simplicity. We have arrived to a newly built house in a walled in community. There has been snow showers throughout the morning, not much traffic in this area. People buying a cup of coffee using the shop WLAN to look for jobs.
The DIY Microhouse could be remade, and the Knowledge Box, just as easy as lifting the lid from the Meccano carton, but the optimistic, lighthearted-modern atmosphere could not be reconstructed easily: leaving utter devastation behind and entering cruising surplus economy and the singular chance to do experimental things backed by a Great Society, to make the world entire fair, just and American modern. But what kind of modern is that?
I later became a contributing editor to Popular Science. And they published a lot of my stuff. But those magazines were about building. And there is something about making… all people over emphasize their various obsessions but… building something changes the individual who does it. Or making something. That’s what’s really good about it. Perhaps better than actual product. And it’s very important to experience that change. I think that’s real excitement.
The gridded structure, the modular steel pipe frame and wall sheet or just about any material that would secure support for a basic and good enough living. He says that his interest in vernacular building grew, but what about the modern vernacular? Applying the grid to in-dust-ri-alism, but also in-divi-du-alism: building the world as an efficient encapsuling of values you cannot speak of, but also finding the limits to what life demands, and kicking excess out of the box. Finding out the limits to what a house can provide – just before you fold it together and move some other place. To tell excess from necessity, your time had to long for something else. Perhaps making space for less, perhaps Walden.
I found in building. I build a lot of my things and I found that in building that the physical act… I remember one time being in a windstorm and the overhead sheet of aluminum which was 10 x 20 feet was blowing off this microhouse and it was raining and it was 2 am. And I went out and this reveals the degree of romanticism in a way I think people thought I was a tiresome technocrat. But I’m so romantic that I was Captain Ahab on a whaling ship in the wind and the rain, corralling this piece of fluttering aluminum. So romance has its place, even in Modernism. And Modernism may be the greatest romance of all. To even think that it could be improved…
Peter Roesch, Chicago
A modern style office building was less expensive than a traditional one, but the difference between one that was raised only thinking about the costs and a cheap looking one is almost impossible to discern. Names and pedigree made a difference. Still, modern architecture became the home turf of developers. You understand from what he says that if there had not been people around that were willing to listen to what Mies meant, the cost efficiency ratio difference between aluminium/bronce tinted glass curtain wall and stone/glass wall would have been the only differential mark left.
Buildings as works of art – i.e. claiming your rights through a distinction that refers to aesthetics as meaning without purpose. If we focus on the surface a building it inevitably becomes so many mirrors for society. Carefully listening to understand what quality means; and silence was Mies’ pedagogical vehicle at the IIT: “That was the lecture. The silent lecture.”
When I opened my office 10 years later I built 30 buildings in ten years. Not saying the quantity… but that was more than I was actually physically able to handle. I had to drive from one job to another… two buildings a year. You needed to be there when they did things. I could not have done that with my previous education. It was Mies who made… who gave me some of the strength… well it was a strange way I was 100% sure what I wanted. It was… and some of my buildings looked like his. Like this booklet I gave you, that was his building. And he asked me and this is maybe one partial answer to your question… when I did my theses I asked him what should I do. And he said ‘You have an idea?’ and I said ‘Not really.’ And we’ve got a year, a little more than a year to do a theses and he said, ‘If you don’t mind to work on one of my ideas… I think you can learn more than if you’re searching for an idea.’ Because an idea may not come in the framework of a semester.’ It may come at the end of your life or tomorrow morning… you never know. So I said ‘Well, if this is proper I would love to do that…’
What can be learned from that which is perfectly modern? That everything less than the IBM building on 330 North Wabash suck? Up on North Lakeview Avenue the facade remained Mies’ work, as well as the obligatory Barcelona pavilion furniture on ground floor. But the interior was the work of the developer: surprisingly small apartments, low ceiling, kitchenette. No pets allowed. There is a vague sense of playfulness, but he sits back, alining his comments while pointing to a source.
But it was never easy to begin with, and even when things worked out and houses were erected, a strange mixture of serendipity and unlimited-supply commercialism hovered over modern buildings as a social project. Seen as rationality there was only one door to pass trough; the remaining work was about an impartial dealing with irrecusable needs. Engineering. No names needed. Just you carry on in the footsteps of the masters. Seen as the aesthetics of hiding a tall building in its details… we just have to think of something else.
Natalie de Blois, Chicago
All we can do is tell a story. There are others before us, surely, and what we do may not fit the description, as for instance a female chief designer. She was told to change her job because a man fell madly in love with her, and she did not want anything of it. She says she was not angry at the time; it was just normal that a woman could not be presented as the responsible architect in an early business meeting. It would make the investors worry about not being top priority. They were working as a team anyhow, hardly any rest. Struggle and time changed the story.
She is bouncing around throughout the interview; after just a few minutes she gets up from the couch looking for Corbusier’s book Towards a New Architecture. Modernity, starting from the Modulor, was a top down project, a claim for equality and a worthy life for every western male. She was a part of the modern, working on it, opening the façade to the street for the department stores and elevating the remaining pleasures up on top, but the recognition has come in retrospect. But what about unjust stories that survive, that become the endlessly repeated truth? In a volume that honors her boss at the time, her name was only mentioned at the back, among the assistants.
NATALIE – Like at the Terrace Plaza I never went – never went and saw the site, never met the client. But it’s interesting. They asked me down to Cincinnati today… and they know, they know that I was the designer on it. Somehow the credit is given to me – pieces, like – and people interview me and I’ll tell you, I did the design for that building, I did the drawings for that building, you know.
STAFFAN – Was that tough on you, in that…
NATALIE – What, tough? No, it wasn’t tough.
STAFFAN – You accept that, that you…
NATALIE – I accept it. I accept it. There’s no doubt about it. I was discriminated and I was… you know. I was told I couldn’t go to meetings. I was – I couldn’t go to lunch with them. I was told couldn’t go to the clubs with them. That was just it. Actually… somebody like Bunschaft who, when he came back I started working for him directly and worked for him on all kinds of big buildings. I worked for him on Lever House. I worked for him on… I was project designer for many buildings. Many, many, many of his best buildings. And he was very, you know – he didn’t seem to discriminate. He was in no way – treated me differently that he did anybody else. But… and actually he was very good with clients, too. When he introduced me to the clients he would say ‘This is my best designer and… she’s going to work on the project.’ you know? So that was fine. He wrote a book, Gordon Bunschaft. He didn’t say a damn thing about me. I mean I didn’t exist.
The people are long gone, the leading characters, the inventories, and the art that embellished the floors, but most of the buildings are still standing and the images of the houses remain. Why do they look differently now? “It’s been recorded that I worked on it but there are those who still try to make believe someone else designed it” – she is still around to change the answer to the question “who is a subject?” From the mid 1970s the story began to change: women was no longer grouped with the minorities.
Alfonso Cararra, Chicago
He lives in the house of his parents, a far cry from modern on a quiet townhouse street. So, what are we talking about? He says that his student peer group considered the Wrigley building, “the wedding cake”, worthy of being demolished, and more so in the rest of the town. Was there not space enough for modernity? Did not modernity achieve a crushing win? It depends on who you are asking, and when. And to what modern longing you subscribe. Claiming rationality, modernity was moving without a script. When the link between aesthetics and progressiveness was broken, closer to today, the concept started turning towards brick wall images of a safe past. Easy stuff, excellent readymade ideas. A past untorn.
If you go to any of the suburbs, the houses that you see now out there are just as bad as the houses I used to see and we dislike them. We didn’t really conquer with modern architecture the houses out there.
STAFFAN – But did you sort of… you also had to deal with problems or problem solving when it came to social housing for instance?
ALFONSO – Well we never… I never got that far. I think later on these things came up. And I think you said something before about ecological things. We never even thought of that in those days. What we were against is … and we were against the shapes. The typical house, and you can still see them. The suburban house. We just couldn’t stand it. It was so terrible. And about the only thing that they had that was modern is that they had this great big glass window. It was covered with a drape. And the usual lamp.
Being held back by a system, a society that was viewed from a once back street, and looking to understand its underpinnings, buildings came into focus. An other stability. If the basic module of life could be turned over, things would have a different starting point. Houses hanging their ancestry on to the facade were loathed, but could there not be traditional buildings “better than most”? What’s the point tearing down old functional ones, just to look into the facades of new houses with the selling point to put on the same face as the old ones? The house skin made out of brick came back, but what was worse, the returning illusion of a stable society, arguing its inevitability based on appearance.
Suzie Wong è un collettivo artistico fondato nel 1997 da Giusi Campisi e Flavia Belleri.
24 HOURS HOTEL
Workshop di 24 ore
MART Museo d’Arte contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto
Elena Boccini, Sandra Borea, Eleonora Cumer, Alessandra Less, Angela Margoni, Fabrizio Perghem, Francesca Fadda, Annalisa Casagranda Michele Calzavara e Suzie Wong.
24 hh è stata un’avventura che ha cercato di rispondere a più sfide contemporaneamente: portare un progetto nato nel museo nello spazio pubblico; realizzare un’intervento nella stanza di un hotel, emblematica terra di mezzo tra la dimensione pubblica e quella privata, e costruire la possibilità di una reale creazione collettiva con il gruppo, collocandoci in un rapporto orizzontale.
La stanza 310 all’Hotel Leon d’Oro di Rovereto con la nostra installazione è rimasta a disposizione della clientela per quattro mesi, con la sua consueta funzione.
L’albergo è una zona di transitorietà, dell’abitare provvisorio, un simulacro di casa per nomadi turisti della propria intimità, epidermici quanto frettolosi consumatori di spazi.
Contemporaneamente la natura delle funzioni che ospita – il sonno, l’igiene personale – ne determina la necessità di allestire una scenografia del domestico, spersonalizzata però grazie ad un arredo standard garante di anonimato.
Sull’ambiguo confine tra pubblico e privato, doppio binario dell’abitare lo spazio, presenza dell’altro sempre rimossa e che continuamente riemerge, abbiamo costruito dei micro interventi.
Spostare il normale uso di una superficie, rendere visibile qualcosa solo al buio o con un solo tipo di luce, introdurre le parole di altri, slittare gli oggetti da uno spazio ad un altro contiguo, creare un continuo rimando tra interno ed esterno, ha dato vita ad una sorta di rumore di fondo, l’invadente brusio che è il fantasma dell’altro.
For more information: http://suziewongit.blogspot.com/