Paesaggio d’interni/Interior landscapes

Extraits du texte :

When one looks up the words “archetype” and “prototype” in the dictionary one is reminded of something that might seem surprising: both terms refer in some way to the concept of model. At least, they both have one meaning in common: they are saying that there is an origin behing every production. If the model comes from the dawn of time, the it is primitive, aboriginal; that is, archetypal. if the model is the first of a series, it is prototypal. This [book] is based on the realization that the designer, or the householder, who wants to think about how a home ought to be made is faced by a particular difficulty today: on the one hand, the multiplicity of models; on the other, the absence of any sort of absolute model in the field of housing. In an attempt to introduce a little clarity into this apparent confusion, we first asked a number of architects and artists to use their works to evoke some of the archetypes of habitation. We then asked other architects and designrs to create rooms where, in either ironic, allegorical, or realistic fashion, the expound implicit and explicit reflections on contemporary interiors and on the technical features of the modern domestic environment. 

“The house will always be the house”. The perennial nature of habitation means that the memory contains within itself all the past modes of living. The proto-historic, archetypal pattern can never be eliminated from thinking about habitation.

The old house had a thousand names in every tongue and every dialect: then came the learned word, the vernacular, and polysemy and polyphony were eliminated. “Vernacular: scholarly adjective […] that designates the popular, thereby declared to be uncultured; note here the word verna, a home-born slave, ignorant, vulgar, who speaks, badly, the local patois of the farm”.

It is our thesis that each of the preceding cultural models (monarchic, aristocratic, bourgeois, reformist, artistic and nomadic) is not eliminated from its successor, but that all of them survive as traces, as memories,  within a process of superimposition of patterns. Once the myths of foundation that recount the “history” of primitive dwellings have been conjured up, the other seven sections take us through these models of living, caught at the moment of their birth. By doing so, the exhibition stresses the need to think of the Western tradition of habitation as a stratification of over-lapping “topical models”.

We often ask ourselves about the different ways in which the function of criticism is viewed. At times, the best response is a non-response. Criticism does not announce itself as criticism, nor history as history. By this I mean that the critical function of our initiative was expressed on a perhaps more subtle plane than the “speculative-progressive” style of the twenties and thirties, but no less effective of that. Criticism – and a way of making history – is that which accepts the terrain of others (other disciplines, other media) and which uses paradox. […] While it is true that “banal” and dominant strategies are the target of criticism, when the two come into a head-on collision, the latter runs the risk of remaining isolated, and in any case of turning out to be totally ineffective. Criticism becomes productive, on the other hand, when it takes these banalities to the point of paradox; when it sets no obstacles in front of them, but carries them to their logical conclusions, revealing their ridiculous side, uncovering their origins and tracing their developments. In this way, the strategies(of the State, of the market, of the communication) cease to be banal and become fatal […].

It may be worth recalling Adolf Loos’s explanation of the “revolutionary” nature of art, as opposed to the “conservative” nature of the house:”the house must be pleasing to all. Unlike the work of art, which does not need to please anyone.”

Compiling Balzac, Benjamin and Pirobutirro, the house is a confined space and one of the torment of living.

 Intimacy and privacy

In the early 18th century […] the new importance given to “privacy” led to a new internal arrangement of houses, in the country as well as in the town, characterized by the disposition of a sequence of small rooms separated by corridors, served by independent staircases for the servants […]. The scale of architecture became less grandiose, the whole becoming more intimate and certainly more tactile.

The effect [technology] had on me was a bit odd. All those inexpensive little machines of black plastic, always a bit dusty, with their cables and switches, with their cocky noises and croaking voices, their pictures that glowed in peculiar colours and were never still for a moment, that whole heap of toys was there like a crowd of eyeless and armless robots, ready to flood me with information, as if they wanted to make me penetrate a bit further into existence, as if they wanted or were able to describe it for me at last, could show me how it is, could explain it to me. I, on the other hand, didn’t know what to do, didn’t know which plug to put in, which button to push. I did not know how to handle all that technology and so I was left there in that bedroom with my existence still unexplained, with my life still confused.