Performance di Parola tra Gesto e Architettura, st...

Performance di Parola tra Gesto e Architettura, studioconcreto, Lecce (Italy)

Following the restrictions imposed by lockdown, between July and September studioconcreto (Lecce, Italy) has finally organized the series of meetings planned as part of the Performance di Parola di Parola tra Gesto e Architettura initiative, in the INA-Casa district of Lecce. The project, winner of the “Creative-Living Lab – II Edition, 2019” award promoted by MiBACT’s Direzione Generale Creatività e Rigenerazione Urbana, saw the participation of the Claire Fontaine, Casa a Mare, Post Disaster and PLSTCT collectives, Roberta Mansueto (takecare) and Marta Oliveri, Pietro Gaglianò and Simona Cleopazzo – the latter has anticipated each event with a series of home-conversations entitled Appunti per un nuovo femminismo. Dalla stanza tutta pe sé all’eco-femminismo. We intercepted the protagonists of the meetings to let us tell their experience.

Antongiulio Vergine: Unauthorized Reproduction for Functional Purpose by the PLSTCT collective closes the series of meetings organized between July and September as part of the Performance di Parola di Parola tra Gesto e Architettura. What is the account of these experiences?
studioconcreto: The account of the experiences of the last few months is part of a narrative that includes the long complex period – still on-going – that we have tried to “in-habit” and that has inevitably influenced the work of the invited collectives, especially with regard to the public/work/event correlations. However, these limitations do not always negatively affect the significant returns of the creative flows, which, precisely in these moments of crisis, find strength and react with a strong production of meaning and analysis. Nevertheless, getting back to gaining public and street (all interventions were designed to be experienced in the urban context) was not easy. The complexity in managing the emergency context, not only in terms of security, led us to review some features of the process. Mainly this has affected our modus operandi, which usually involves long periods dedicated to a single collaboration, a practice that pushes us to deepen our knowledge of the people invited and that helps to strengthen the relationship between the artists involved and the surrounding environment. This time, however, with the exception of the exhibition I – WE – YES and the meeting with the Claire Fontaine collective, which opened the series of meetings entitled Performance di Parola Tra Gesto e Architettura in July, we reconfigured the program by opting for a formula that combines the various interventions over three consecutive days. Starting from our interest in the interaction between places and artistic languages, from which comes the analysis of the proxemics of unconventional spaces that escape institutional planning, we went so far as to abandon the comfort zones of the exhibition space to take our research to the streets. This has happened in the neighborhood where we live, which does not coincide and does not identify with the tourist-oriented city – such as Lecce – which in this area implies and conditions cultural choices. The desire is to consider political action unrelated to the rhetoric of redevelopment of places through the performative intervention and the physicality of the bodies interacting with the architecture. Through divergent languages, the occasion was to redefine terms such as “relationship”, “common good”, “participation”, favoring – without structures or design schemes – the possibility of connection between citizens and the space in which they live.

Antongiulio Vergine: From what premises was the corpotesto laboratory born and how did it develop in relation to the INA-Casa district of Lecce?
Roberta Mansueto (takecare): corpotesto was born from a slow knowledge and mail-correspondence between me and Marta Olivieri during the lockdown. As the weeks (and months) went by, our conversations deepened our practices, but they also became an unusual and confidential daily observation of what was changing in us: our emotions, our bodies, the information that rained down our eyes and what we perceived as possible in the present/future (still indefinite today). So we began to share some readings, which I had long since started on topics such as ethnobotany, ecology and eco-feminism, and podcasts such as those produced by Teatro India (specifically Nausicaä. Living among the ruins). For Marta this was an opportunity to think – together – of a workshop that could relate body and writing. So we began to imagine the realization of the workshop in the street, in the open air, in the encounter of bodies, in our encounter (mine and Marta’s), inserted in the “landscape” of the neighborhood that at that precise moment was experiencing an autonomous presence and the absence of bodies. The first thing I observed, during an inspection, were the eucalyptus trees invaded by the psilla (Glycaspis Brimblecombei), which was giving them an evident defoliation: hence the idea of opening up a sensitive reflection on the “green” of the neighborhood, probably the only contact with the “outside-nature” of the residents (during the lockdown we often wrote about sightings of birds, public gardens, animals approaching the city, as if suddenly everything was more visible and extraordinarily exposed). Doing research on that invisible host, I discover, thanks to a well-known local activist, that the psilla spreads more easily because of the incorrect pruning of the trees. Moreover, some studies state that the insect arrived in Italy from Australia around 2010. Starting from the “green of the neighborhood” and the street (a cycle path inside the neighborhood that stimulates an ecological movement, but which, through a passage between two buildings, opens to a very busy ring road), we thought of an eco-composition exercise on several levels: on our bodies, on the relationship between space/nature and language through the reading of selected texts and practices (short alignment exercises, breathing, proprioceptive connection) edited by Marta, in a neighborhood now back to its vitality, perceptible also by the curious passage of its in-habitants.

Antongiulio Vergine: There seems to be a (strong) common thread between the New Popular Didactics project, your book La sintassi della libertà. Arte, pedagogia, anarchia and the last experience of Popular Lesson. How important is it to bring the community closer to art (and vice-versa) and which “shadow zones” are you trying to activate/invest through these meetings?
Pietro Gaglianò: Pedagogy (in its radical, libertarian and anti-hierarchical forms) is for me a way of thinking about the contemporary and acting as an art critic, curator, activist. I start from the assumption that learning is a voluntary act, activated in a field of relationship where the teacher can act as a catalyst without taking the chair. The experience of art is played out in dynamics similar to those of understanding. From here on it becomes necessary (and adventurous and terrifying) to take this possibility out of the commonplace, disarticulating the hierarchical architecture of traditional education. In the encounter with communities, even the most eccentric ones with respect to the poles of artistic production, an enrichment and amplification of art and pedagogy take shape, enriching all the actors (equally) at stake. I can no longer do without all this.

Antongiulio Vergine: What lies behind the seemingly simple operation of Prima Casa? What considerations does it bring with it?
Casa a Mare: The ceramic tile, made especially for the INA-Casa building, is the synthesis of a process of analysis and appropriation of both the plastic-figurative components and the historical-social aspects linked to the famous public residential building plan. The project for the construction of workers’ homes, commissioned at the end of the fifties, involved the best of Italian architecture and provided for a reconstruction plan that could also be a large workshop on urban living. The result was an un-precedented urban (and social) revolution. The ceramic tiles that studded these buildings, as well as being an example of this will, represented the symbolic seal denoting the importance of social value and the interest in art that hovered around the entire floor. The intention was clear: “To obtain less anonymous neighborhoods and create greater belonging and recognition of the in-habitants for their building and accommodation”. In view of these motivations, which reflect some of the attitudes present in Casa a Mare’s research, and letting ourselves be inspired by those “quadrelli d’artista”, we decided to produce a terracotta plaque with the intention of setting it in one of the walls of the ex-INA building that houses studioconcreto, and which is devoid of its original tile. The result was Prima Casa, in fact the first permanent public work of the Casa a Mare collective, as well as the synthesis of a process that started from a quotation from a photograph taken in 1980 by Ettore Sottsass on the island of Ponza. The photo shows a fig tree and some benches: for the Italian designer and architect this image coincided with the idea of a minimal dwelling and expressed the Mediterranean feeling of living. A vision of architecture that praises the culture of recovery, admiration for craftsmanship and wonder at spontaneous intuition.

Antongiulio Vergine: How did the idea of the Rooftop Landing performance come about and what message did you want to convey to the neighborhood community?
Post Disaster: Our Rooftops have always been conceived as a collective performance in which a group of people meet to occupy and temporarily in-habit a roof. The concept of Rooftop Landing is a site-specific suggestion linked to the roof of the studioconcreto building, which, covered with heat-reflective aluminum paint (a commonly used material for water-proofing terraces), makes it resemble a lunar or alien landscape: an arid but fertile space compared to the possibility of imagining a habitat. Participants were greeted by a series of totems, antennas that “emanate” fundamental warnings extracted from Chantal Mouffe’s text The Democratic Paradox.
Our intervention invites us to interpret the roof as a public space where we can experiment new ways of relating bodies to the urban landscape, outside of control and regulation systems. In this case collective bodies, since we have provided a material of deliberately exaggerated dimensions: two strips 15 meters long, which need the collaboration of people in order to be shaped in space. The message that the happening tries to convey, in addition to an intrinsic reflection on the meaning and normal use of urban space, aims at an understanding of architecture as a collective process, as opposed to the verticality of the designer/in-habitant. The diversity and social stratifications present today in the ex-INA neighborhood where studioconcreto is located thus represent an ideal context for reflecting on Mouffe’s words.

Antongiulio Vergine: How does your operation relate to the experience of the artist Charlotte Posenenske? Being the last appointment in the series of meetings born from Performance di Parola tra Gesto e Architettura, what reflections does it contain?
PLSTCT: The first time we saw a work by Posenenske we didn’t even realize it was a sculptural work: we thought it was architectural provocations. After various investigations, her work has now become a reference from an ideological rather than a formal point of view – in 1968 she left the world of art with a letter in which she defined her works as simple relational objects, thus rejecting their categorization as “works of art”. Our tribute to her work consists in definitively exasperating her idea of democratization of the work by transforming it into a base, nothing more than an object functional to the exhibition of other works: this operation allows us to generate a reflection between the boundaries that separate the functional and the non-functional, and therefore design and art, which in our practice tend to become very thin. As architects who often work in predominantly artistic contexts, we have repeatedly asked ourselves questions about the boundary between art and design, to the point of making it almost a design tool. Moreover, Posenenske’s modules (inspired by air ventilation ducts) invite us to reflect on human living, understood as a process – in continuous evolution – of immunization towards the outside, a sort of intentional detachment from the environment accompanied by control and domestication of the elements. This process takes place through design, and the control of the air (and therefore the atmosphere) is one of the most evolved expressions of architecture. The intervention is part of a long-term research, Creatures of Habit, which seeks to investigate the complex system of relationships that exist between bodies, space and environment. The research takes into consideration elementary human functions – such as breathing or sleeping – understood as practices which, although vital and common to (almost) all living organisms, are conditioned by socio-cultural over-structures and technological infrastructures that have modified their evolutionary patterns. With the video Breathing (2020), commissioned by studioconcreto for the exscenario platform, we had already tackled the theme, and this intervention continues the reflection in that direction.

Antongiulio Vergine


Performance di Parola tra Gesto e Architettura
studioconcreto, via Francesco Ribezzo, 5-3, Lecce (LE)

Post Disaster, Rooftop Landing, ph. Alice Caracciolo, Courtesy studioconcreto

Performance di Parola tra Gesto e Architettura: Post Disaster, Rooftop Landing, ph. Alice Caracciolo, Courtesy studioconcretoPost Disaster, Rooftop Landing, ph. Alice Caracciolo, Courtesy studioconcreto

Post Disaster, Rooftop Landing, ph. Alice Caracciolo, Courtesy studioconcreto

Roberta Mansueto e Marta Olivieri, corpotesto, ph. Alice Caracciolo, Courtesy studioconcreto

Roberta Mansueto e Marta Olivieri, corpotesto, ph. Alice Caracciolo, Courtesy studioconcreto

Simona Cleopazzo, Appunti per un nuovo femminismo, ph. Alice Caracciolo, Courtesy studioconcreto

Simona Cleopazzo, Appunti per un nuovo femminismo, ph. Alice Caracciolo, Courtesy studioconcreto

Casa a Mare, Prima Casa, ph. Alice Caracciolo, Courtesy studioconcreto

Pietro Gaglianò, Lezione Popolare, ph. Alice Caracciolo, Courtesy studioconcreto

PLSTCT, Unauthorized Reproduction for Functional Purpose – a tribute to Charlotte Posenenske, ph. Alice Caracciolo, Courtesy studioconcreto


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