exhibition : Beirut
30th May - 18th July 2001
|Gabriele Basilico stands apart concerning the relationship between photography and architecture.
With Interrupted City, a series taken in Milan in 1997, he examines the city as a living body, revealing its anatomy. His analysis goes beyond the mere formal reproduction of an urban landscape to disclose the topography of its social and economic structure.
|from series Interrupted City, 1997
silver print mounted on aluminium and plexiglass
68 x 90 cm
The idea was to trace a portrait of the city and provide it with an image that accorded with its actual physical aspect. It's extremely difficult - although the temptation always exists - to describe a city as big as Milan in all its complexity. The risk one runs is of producing an exhausting and incomplete piece of work whose narrative tension is watered down into an ambitious but unmanageable mosaic of fragments.
I preferred to construct a partial narration, and to do this I chose three separate areas of the city.
The first is an area of rather high density, with somewhat irregular boundaries, which slopes up between the two main railway stations - the Central Station and the Garibaldi Station-, with the main thoroughfares -the Piazza della Repubblica on the one hand, and the Viale Tunisia on the other - forming its axes, its Cartesian coordinates. This area, introduced in a panoramic sequence of five color photos taken from the highest tower in the Piazza della Repubblica, is one of the places that's most familiar to me ; a place which has, over time, been the object of periodic visits on my part and with which I've inevitably established a highly personal subjective relationship. In the postwar period this area was subject to a lot of rebuilding.(...) Today, this "citadel", an island which gradually loses its compact character as it arrives at its natural boundaries, transparently reveals a number of somatic characteristics typical of that ambition, of the aggressivity and ingenuousness conferred on it by the political events and economic illusions of the postwar years.
The second part is made up of a few fragments, akin to urban "extractions" drawn from observation of the Novecento city and other places bordering the historic center and characterized by the presence of monuments and historically important buildings. This sequence of images was created by bringing different - not necessarily neighboring - locations together ; places that were not individualized by a similarity of style or period, but by a shared sense of coherence of certain spaces - squares, in the main- and the diversity that coexists in others. This is a city which, despite everything, has not lost its identity ; here is the "hard core", a contrasting model that should not be forgotten and, if you ask me, one we should start out from again.
To conclude, the third area or part refers to the outskirts. This entails a long exploration of a territory created by successive incursions taking the form of a leopard's spots. This is the most complex and comospolitan territory, the zone in which cities break up along their own boundaries and where their "scarred" fabrics, abandoned for years to creeping lethargy, grow new and unforeseeen layers of skin. Time-wise, here is the site of maximum urban "coexistence" : awaiting transformation for more than twenty years, here lie, side by side, those vast, disused areas of the "city of factories", enormous green spaces (the last bastions of agricultural resistance, which mark the limits of Milan and provide, thanks to the open lie of the land and the distance, a view over a city that rarely allows its skyline to be seen), the new legions of buildings clustering in ordered groups along the redefined borders, and other installations occupying the access roads to the city.
Here you have the great metropolis, living its last metamorphosis before the arrival of the third millenium.
Gabriele Basilico Milan, June 1998