Over the last ten years, the city of Milan has gone through a process of transformation that has affected many parts of the city, drastically changing the appearance, the economy and even the population of entire neighborhoods. Although the new economic crisis has effectively frozen the real estate market and despite the fact that the results of the economic stimulus created by Expo 2015 have yet to be verified, the evident result of this phase has been the construction of an enormous quantity of new buildings, both permanent and temporary. A hypothetical visitor, who returned to Milan after several years of absence, would find a city with a different and much more international aspect, since almost all of this great architectural production, be it signed by some famous architect or more or less anonymous professionals, appears united by the use of a range of architectural styles and solutions which, however wide, can easily be referred to a transnational architectural trend in some uniform way that directly or indirectly refers, updating them, to some characteristics of modernity . On the occasion of the invitation to reflect on the city of Milan, addressed to us by the Ideal City and with the intention of applying our “method” to an exercise of creation for the fifth time, we have therefore decided to propose a critical path on the origins and on the state of international architecture.
The origin of the internationalization of architecture can be found in the efforts aimed at the worldwide diffusion of the principles of Modern or Rationalist architecture represented by the CIAM (from the French Congrès Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne), international conferences, held on an irregular basis between the 1928 and 1959, which brought together the most important architects of the time to discuss the main issues of architectural design, urban planning and industrial design. Thanks to the influence of this organization, capable of involving powerful economic and political interests, Modern Architecture spread throughout the Western world, and sometimes even beyond it, contradicting itself in multiple, anachronistic and different urban landscapes, the illusion of a world without formal references to cultural roots and local styles. A kind of architectural anti-diaspora, that is a globalizing tendency of architecture, of the city and therefore of urban life, systematically disclosed through the words and the work of authors such as Le Courbusier, Walter Gropius, Alvar Aalto, Mies Van der Rohe.
As expected, this historical process involved a failure, generated by the loss of the utopian charge of architecture as a force capable of transforming society through the creation of new forms. A defeat linked to the inability of those forms of speaking a language suitable for being understood and accepted in a profound way by the society they claimed to change. Historically this fact is well represented by the exhibition held at MOMA in 1932 and by the book “The International Style” published simultaneously by the curators Henry Russel Hitchcock and Philip Johnson, in which precisely the architecture of the modern movement is emptied of all its political and social and interpreted in a purely “stylistic”, ie formal, key. Since then, the history of architecture has recorded many other events and the architecture of contemporary buildings no longer has much to do with that of the masters of the avant-garde, both from a constructive and a semantic point of view, however that formal imaginary remains and among the phenomena of globalization in which we are immersed there is certainly assisting in the formation of a new international style in architecture. It is important to note that, similarly to what happens in architecture, a similar trend has been underway for many decades also in the sphere of more purely artistic creation, aimed at the ever more precise definition of the rules of the “contemporary” which tends to translate languages ??also local or contextual in forms or results that are always consistent with a global panorama.
During the period of work in Milan we intended to propose a reflection on these issues by presenting an installation that will serve as a physical element with which we will ask a group of artists and performers to confront themselves, thus inviting them to establish a space-body-object relationship, with our work. The installation that we will create finds a natural theoretical premise in what has been said about international architecture but also in the comparison with the context of the Sala delle Colonne. Starting from the search for the physical limits imposed on those who experience architecture of an international matrix, at least in its first phase, we have decided to cite Le Courbusier’s Modulor as an emblematic example (in the two versions of 1948 and 1955) of an effort to standardize and unify the relations between an ideal body and a rational architecture.
We therefore decided to use the columns from which the room that hosts the event takes its name, to create a series of elements that refer to the standardized measurements of the body placed at the base of the “Modulor”. According to what Le Courbusier stated, the height of the ideal inhabitant of modern buildings had to be 1.75 cm in the first version, or 1.83 cm in the following revision of the same text. This limit indirectly highlights the purely European and American cultural colonization of the Modern Movement; similarly, the choice to intervene on the columns ideally refers to another model of Western aesthetics, cited countless times with the aim of affirming its values ??or ideologies: Greek architecture. The two stations built around the central columns of the room which served to compete with the modernist canons and at the same time to try to subvert them.
In addition to the artistic laboratory activity centered around the installation just described, two moments of confrontation and debate were organized open to the public and aimed at deepening the topics covered which saw the participation of: Andrea Balestrero, Marta Ferretti, Nina Fiocco , Matteo Ghidoni, Valentina Roselli, Rogelio Sánchez Velázquez, Stefano Serusi.
Artists: Laura Pante, Miranda Secondari, Francesco Michele Laterza and artists, Daniela Ardiri, Mirko Canesi, Umberto Chiodi, Fabio Melosu, Piero Mezzabotta, Patrizia Emma Scialpi.