|THROUGH TWO MILLENNIA
At this time of year the image I dwell on with
most pleasure is that of a sunset: the sun has disappeared, night is yet to arrive, and
from the plane one sees a new horizon, a luminescent strip along a tumbled carpet of cloud
which separates the infinite, and therefore inconceivable, expanses of sky and space from
what lies beneath.
I have the impression of making a discovery, of perceiving "magic" - and for a
moment I alone have been permitted to understand, to glimpse the mystery of the
Then that mid-Atlantic voice which is exclusive to airline pilots when they blab away over
the PA, informs us that we will be beginning our descent in twenty minutes.
What follows is a much more earthly sequence: airport, baggage, taxi, underground, road
traffic, rush-hour and pollution. Gestures and movements become automatic. The miracle of
power and superiority that I was vouchsafed at an altitude of 10,000 metres is OVER. I
felt untouchable and superior, now I am an ant which others, up in the sky, can imagine
Now I'm back in the ravines and gorges, the canyons and land faults of the metropolis. No
one can withstand them; no one knows their intimate fate.
The next Architecture Expo (Castello Gardens and The Arsenale, June-November 2000)
will be entirely dedicated to the theme of The CITY.
The main approach of this exhibition could be summed up in the phrase: LESS AESTHETICS,
We won't start off on yet another criticism of the recent past; instead we will aim to
pick up the thread that was broken at the end of the 70s. The great heritage of research,
ideas and utopias produced by the 60s and "crystallised" by the events of 1968
was for twenty years abandoned to "oblivion". The openness of the 60s - which
was in part the result of the conclusion of the emergency of post-war re-construction -
was replaced by an odd sort of rigidity that was due to the excessive weight of
No one at the time would have thought that 1968 would mark the end of the exuberance and
utopias of the 60s.
A glacial chill settled on what had been volcanic activity...
For many years the passwords would be: discipline, autonomy, eyes on the past, on daily
The reduction and simplification of those magnificent experiences and experiments went on
until 1972, and then...
One had to wait for 1989 and the fall of the Berlin Wall. In spite of difficulties and
crisis, everything was subject to discussion once more. The ideology that had overwhelmed
the ideas and concepts of modernity fizzled out, and the critical thought made its
Ideas produced questions that one did not know the answer to - and so this was the moment
to take up discussion and debate once more. Gradually, we began to reflect upon such
almost-forgotten themes as the environment, people themselves, cities, the economy,
politics, political commitment, information, the exercise of control.... And only then did
we start to make forecasts about the future once again. This was a sort of ideal link-up
with utopias, but also an indication of a desire to be part of a process, and so be able
to give body and substance to ideas and plans.
The question we have to answer is: "Do we still want to be part of a process, or do
we want to live in a state of permanent amnesia?"
Joseph Beuys often said that artists, those who create, are a sort of Red Cross. I would
add that one too often calls upon those artists and creators who, together with poets, are
the Red Cross of the world.
Now it is a matter of posing oneself questions rather than simply establishing answers:
the facts of the case have changed, the factors involved are no longer the same.
I might almost say that there is the suggestion of certain positive trends: the
irreversible crisis in Style, the end of architecture as an autonomous discipline, the
reduction of technology to a simple means rather than end ...
However, the most surprising factor is the eternal return of an extreme aestheticising of
concepts - a tendency that is rapidly becoming more and more widespread.
One has to re-establish the importance of being a creator - not "cynically"
resign oneself to a passive complicity in the destruction of life and the enormous growth
of the megalopolis (the metropolitan region of Calcutta has a population of 50 million,
that of Mexico city a population of 22 million).
I believe that an architect is neither a demiurge nor an artisan who is totally unaware of
the damage he can cause.
These are the topics one must face and resolve, bearing in mind that architecture can be
both a critical assessment of the past and the expression of a vision of the future...
The idea we are working on is that of creating a permanent workshop which will last two
years, and a Forum on-line for the Venice Biennale Architecture Section, bringing together
material relating to the themes of the Expo. This on-line exhibition will last about a
year, and will aim to be a forum for the discussion of the theme of the exhibition of the
year 2000: THE CITY: LESS AESTHETICS, MORE ETHICS.
By bringing together ideas and materials, this site intends to promote open debate. Space
and attention will be focused on the younger generations, who can use this site to
illustrate their work and ideas.
At http://www.labiennale.org you will take
part in the forum with materials and ideas. Please address submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org or here:
Piazza del Monte di Pietą, 30
La Biennale di Venezia,
Societą di Cultura
7a. Mostra Internazionale di Architettura
San Marco, 1364/a Ca' Giustinian
Telefono +39 041 5218711
Fax: +39 041 5210038