A Sensational Architecture of Idealism
Camilla Boemio, art critic and curator
“Of whom and of what are we contemporaries? What does it mean to be contemporary?” - Giorgio Agamben (1). “…in each perception the body is: the immediate past as it emerges in the fleeting present. This means that it is both a point of view and a point of departure: a point of view and departure that I am and that I cross over towards what I must be," Jean – Paul Sartre.
Spencer Tunick. Museum Kunst Palast. Düsseldorf, Germany. August 6, 2006. Courtesy of the artist
Isidro Ramirez. Block of Flats 01, Berlin, 100.120 -2007. Courtesy of the artist
Mark Lewis. 122 Leadenhall Street. 4'14". 35mm transferred to High Definition. 2007. Courtesy and copyright the artist and galerie serge le borgne, Paris
Yona Friedman. Monument. Courtesy of the artist
“Sensational Architecture” is an aesthetic dream-like imaginary translation where elaborations and global stand points of contemporary Art and Architecture merge together.

Two concepts are the focus of research presented in the exhibition (16.06.-01.07.2010. V.le P. De Coubertin 30, Roma):
- Theories inspired by Yona Friedman in her first manifesto “Mobile Architecture” (1958)
- The relationship with the city, its construction and society all joined in the interpretation of the human body, where the body is a model for architecture, a perfect structure located at the heart of civilisation.

The sensational is a category of the mind leading us to discard mediocrity to discover territories without boundaries. Architecture is back as the sole protagonist of the society we live in, and its sensationalism, the building of an ideal city where beauty, the sublime and the perfect Renaissance town take different shapes embracing theories and visions.

Yona Friedman in her first manifesto Mobile Architecture (1958) defined the structure of the ideal city as transforming, transportable and located in a narrow area, so that structures would soar overhead, rather than expanding on the surface: thus “mobile architecture” and “spatial city” are born. According to Friedman : '"The city, like a mechanism, is a labyrinth, a configuration of starting points and extremities, separated by obstacles."

Friedman's ideas, elaborated in the aftermath of WWII, have influenced following generations by transforming imagination on parallel cultural spheres: from cinema to contemporary art. The utopia of an imaginary and visionary construction of architecture, of an imaginary place which does not exist, fills the distance between the project of a desired-for reality and its construction, between desire and satisfaction. Friedman shows how the language, its forms, its ability to represent, shape and make intelligible a thought is the basic unit as well as the conditio sine qua non of utopian construction.

The individuals and their ability to communicate with others become fundamental to determine the basis of influence of society itself, which should be regulated and self-fed by the “critical group”.

Utopia as possibility and aesthetic form nurturing the creation of art languages. Friedman's ideas have inspired many contemporary artists and architects, by developing the idea that architecture and art may find again their position in contemporary society only through the discovery of primary human needs.

Thus, according to Friedman, architecture will be able to make communication needs practicable and concrete, between individuals as they are the basis of modern societies. Friedman's goal consists in bringing artistic production outside the artistic field where it lies, to create a contact with everyday life and everyone's needs.

Perhaps signs that the need for art and architecture is expanding may be perceived, although small and faint, in comparison with the immense state of grace that knowledge could disseminate throughout society by permeating habits and needs of human beings.  The concept of “shelter”, for example highlights a basic need, but also the creativity instinctively triggered by it.

An "enlarged” vision of art and architecture, characterised by a strong relationship with primary needs of human being. At the same time it recalls human ability to activate universal communication forms as the foundation for the social life of a community.

One of Friedman's principles of architecture consists in the unforseability of its execution rooted in freedom.

A freedom in which Isidro Ramirez's photographs present a functional architecture of anthropic landscape, an interpretation of these landscapes as seen through the distorsion of a lens.

The perception of buildings in East Berlin, in the series “360° Degrees”, becomes something else; a set of colours and structures where one may get lost between geometries, forgetting their space, which slowly becomes a place in the mind.
A floating recollection where thoughts flow.

The image becomes fluid, mobile, deeply promiscuous, polyhedric, geometric. Loosing oneself without bearing between distorted walls where writings and colours become appendices of a disquieting filmic dream overhead.

We continue tirelessly as explorers of new territories till we arrive at the series “Cardinals Points” by Andrea Garuti.

Four points of the globe are frozen in a painting fashion, at times with severe strokes, by privileging the dark hues of the stiff building in Berlin, to open up to the restless sparkle of chaotic and numbing lights of Las Vegas, an American dream where losing oneself between glass skyscrapers with enourmous billboards.

The tireless wanderer explores the mysteriously silent roads of Hong Kong where severe buildings are interspersed in narrow streets, until arriving into the streets of Cairo where light turns sweet and essential protagonist of dazzling views between pyramids and markets where minarets and modern buildings merge in a sort of sublimation. The second point in which the construction lines of the exhibition are traced is the link between architecture and body.

Literary interpretations of the body ensue in a cyclical fashion, by exploring measures, projections, organisations and exegesis of idealised figures, cultural projections subsequently translated into images of cities. The body is the starting point and the point of arrival of architecture. This is a perfect structure at the centre of civilisation. It appears clearly in Spencer Tunick's work, where the boundary lines of the body inspiration in the construction of architecture are crossed in order to create a disruptive flow of evident cohesion: between bodies and cities, architecture, bridges, kunstalle, parks and non places.

Mark Lewis's films are close to the sublime, as their impact, fluid and dramatic narration is formally magniloquent in its taking shape with the human figure subordinated to the surrounding landscape as in Caspar David Friedrich's paintings.

In Lewis's language, pictorial and cinematic re-interpretations merge together. Architectures become symbols of the psychic state of human beings; they represent and envelop them by estranging them seductively .

If in “North Circular” they are the symbols of a decayed society where a delapidated building turns into the clear symbol of a cannibalistic post-capitalistic society, in whose ruins youth gangs express their distress, in “Isosceles” the empty streets become the existential erring of a wanderer “circumnavigating” a construction; on the contrary “122 Leadenhall Street” becomes the focus of the meeting of many human figures moving breathlessly, distracted and distant.

Architecture is external and becomes a body enveloping our everyday life, by outlining its perspectives or expanding them, thus creating fantastic worlds where to explore new perspectives, or simply enriching their socio-political complexity.

The artist draws the most disparate ideas by subverting them to create another architecture, made of escape, avoidance, vision and interpretation.

We are swept away by these images belonging to what will remain of our society, we are living a part of history.

More on the exhibition: