Journey Into Another Italy

Care, sustainability, desertion: what is the relationship between Italian inland areas and their inhabitants? At the Architecture Biennale, a film tells us about it through images

  • Journey Into Another Italy
  • Journey Into Another Italy
  • Journey Into Another Italy
  • Journey Into Another Italy
  • Journey Into Another Italy

L’Altro Spazio (“The Other Space”) is the title of a documentary film by Marcello Pastonesi and Carlo Furgeri Gilbert in collaboration with Mario Cucinella, architect and curator of the Italian Pavilion at the 2018 Architecture Biennale in Venice. This year’s edition of the Biennale, "Freespace", focuses on the public dimension of architecture as an element of the landscape delving into the relationship between architecture and territory, a theme which is particularly relevant in Italy, with such a variety of different landscapes where spaces and human stories have been interwining for centuries. 
Cucinella chose to get off the beaten path which connects Italy’s major cities and explore the country’s most remote places high above the mountains or on the islands. The architect’s point of view is expressed through the moving images of the documentary shot by Pastonesi and Furgeri Gilbert, produced by Someone in collaboration with Rai Cinema and screened daily at the Biennale. We met them to learn more about the project.
L’Altro Spazio is a journey through Italy far from the spotlight. It is in some way also a journey through time?
MP: In part yes, because it is a journey in search of traditions, customs and different ways of doing things and managing the relationship with land and nature.
CFG: It is indeed a journey through time but not one indulging in memories. It is a journey which raises questions, as any journey should do. We have crossed territories and met people who only apparently live in another time. They are very connected to the world, they know what happens outside. These territories have an enormous potential. They are in fact the cradle of the DNA of Italian culture. It is a matter of understanding how to create the conditions for developing and re-launching them, avoiding depopulation and degradation.
How do people connect with the places where they live? Through nature, architecture, smells, colours?
MP: The people we met in these remote inland areas have a very clear idea of ​​what a big city or a suburb looks like, many of them have actually lived and worked there. Their attachment to the place where they live is not triggered by fear of what’s outside, but rather by the idea of a ​​community, which acts as a social safety net, as a source of education, care, memory, knowledge and contacts. And they wish to preserve all of this. In Orgosolo, Sardinia, people told us with pride how they managed to oppose the construction of an American military base. People's mistrust also arises from having seen their land suffer damage from industrialization, with broken promises of economic recovery and jobsbeing replaced by abandonment, environmental damage and sometimes even damage to people's health.
CFG: I would say mainly human relationships. Through this journey we discovered that the relationships weaved by the community are the true lifeblood of these places. Not all these places are "beautiful"; some face very difficult situations, they are badly damaged but still have great human potential. And in spite of everything, many people want to stay, because this is their home. As Marcello says, the community works as a social safety net.
Which role does architecture play in designing the way places are experienced?
CFG: The role of architecture is essential. Unfortunately, today the word ‘architect’ is associated with a sometimes negative meaning – as in speculation and uncontrolled overbuilding - but architecture actually played a fundamental role in the construction of this country. Without the architects, we would not have the beautiful cities that the whole world envies us. We need to start restoring the positive value of architecture, to recover what over a thousand years of history have taught us, to promote projects that spring from the real needs of people and places. There is actually a lot of talking about participated architecture: designing means first of all understanding and listening, which is why local communities often take part in developing projects, defining a ‘mission’ for their own territory.
Music is an element of your story: is there a link do you see between music and architecture?
MP: We tried to choose music that was in harmony with the places and their architecture. As we traveled, I often searched for local radio stations to hear voices, accents, current topics, and even music. Some ideas came from there, some from street artists, some from the people we interviewed. In the editing process, we chose music based on the feel of the footage and the topic. So yes, there is certainly a link between music and landscapes. For me, it works by mental association. 
What would you like the inhabitants of the "other spaces" to discover though your documentary?
MP: I'd like them to find it useful. The film could be an opportunity to trigger a public debate or something practical and useful for their local communty. Also, it would be great to have a few screenings and let them watch themselves. 
CFG: I totally agree with Marcello, I would like the film to be useful, a reason for them to raise questions about themselves and their role as citizens. It would be great to have public screenings in the towns’ squares, those free spaces that used to be the major gathering space for democracy. 

Author : The Slowear Journal

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