zaterdag 17 september 2016

an Eclectic Atlas Italy cross Sections of a Country Contemporary Archeology Gabriele Basilico Architecture Photography

BASILICO, GABRIELE AND STAFANO BOERI, - Italy--cross Sections of a Country; a Project.. Zurich, Etc., Scalo, 1998. 149 [3]p., 108 colored and b/w photographs, original stiff wrappers, oblong format.

Gabriele Basilico: “…contemporary archeology…”

Gabriele Basilico - Dunkirk, 1989
The Italian photographer Gabriele Basilico (b 1944, Milan) is arguably the most prolific and persistent photographic documenter of the city that there is today. For decades Basilico, who trained as an architect and has an architect’s eye for composition and urban form, has been obsessively compiling a catalogue of European and Mediterranean cities.

Gabriele Basilico - Milan from The Interrupted City, 1999
The evidence of his work lies in the rational, unsentimental black and white pictures completed with many of the techniques and equipment associated with professional architectural photographers but with none of the rhetorical constraints that routinely accompany that photographic speciality.

Gabriele Basilico - Milan from The Interrupted City, 1999
As well as documenting places like Porto, Dunkirk, Berlin, and Beirut (after the civil war), Basilico has mostly focussed on Italy and particularly his home city Milan. A case in point is the Interrupted City project wherein he compiled 95 Milan pictures which he calls “Modest finds of a contemporary archaeology.”[1]

Gabriele Basilico - Milan from The Interrupted City, 1999
The pictures (1995-96) document Milan in a transformative condition. Their stark, unsentimental mode implies this is the real Milan, stripped bare and revealing the effects of economic and social change rather than any architectural manner or pre-occupation.
The idea was to trace a portrait of the city and provide it with an image that accorded with its actual physical aspect.[2]

Gabriele Basilico - Milan from The Interrupted City, 1999
And Basilico has looked deeper to find the authentic city:
It has its own beauty and ugliness, there for all to see. Such physical characteristics are the incarnation of its history, and they acquire even more meaning when compared to other cities. This city resembles a living being.[3]
The Milan project was practically contemporaneous with the 1998 publication of Italy: Cross Sections of a Country an out of the ordinary project Basilico undertook with the architect/urbanist Stefano Boeri (b1956, Milan) for the 1996 Venice Biennale.

Gabriele Basilico - Milan to Como cross section 1996
Taking six geographically diverse cuts in the landscape each 50km by 12km – which Boeri called an “Eclectic Atlas”- as their method of sampling Italy, Basilico completed over 100 pictures concentrating solely on recently completed buildings.

Gabriele Basilico - Venice-Mestre to Treviso cross section 1996
Again the photographer finds what is really there in a straight forward fashion, concentrating on the absolute physical form of the buildings and infra-structure. There are no crowds here. There is nothing sweet here, nor bitter for that matter, just a commemoration of the world as it is.

Gabriele Basilico - Rimini-Riccione to the Montefeltro cross section 1996
As Boeri puts it these pictures reveal what he calls:[4]
… the headlong sprawl of Italian urban areas along the state and provincial roads and along the coastal axes (…on the one hand) and on the other hand they also show that this has produced an urban sphere very different from the one we are used to…

Gabriele Basilico - Florence to Pistoia cross section 1996
On this project research showed that the familiar and much-loved continuity of Italian urban form is gone. In its place are urban forms similar to those found in many parts of the western world where the similar socio-economic conditions, contemporary ways of living and commercial profit and planning regulations subsist.

Gabriele Basilico - Naples to Cesarta cross section 1996

Gabriele Basilico - Gioia to Siderno cross section 1996
Basilico’s pictures are redolent of everyday life even though they almost always lack human presence. It is thus the buildings and the urban spaces that represent people in a unswerving way in these pictures.

Gabriele Basilico - Friedenstrasse from Berlin, 2002
If an infinite fascination with urban forms and their potential to “realise”  human presence is a mark of this photographers work, then so too is the representation of transformation that cities reveal with their differing historical eras of construction and renewal in evidence. This is unambiguous in his Berlin (2002) another large compilation of pictures captured in three trips to the German capital in the summer of 2000 – the first of which was just for research and planning and the second two for photography.

Gabriele Basilico - Ruscherstrasse from Berlin, 2002
These are not spaces of any interest to the numerous tourists who visit the city, but, as with his other projects they reveal much more of the city in reality and about the forces that shape cities.  For Gabriele Basilico, in the words of Renate Siebenhaar[5] the project became his “… declaration of love for Berlin.”  But of course his Berlin is not like anyone else’s.

Gabriele Basilico - Grunerstrasse from Berlin, 2002

Gabriele Basilico - Anhalter Banhof from Berlin, 2002
Basilico’s Berlin also contextualises architectural fashion in the way that time does but much more quickly: it weakens fashion’s imagistic sway and makes one wonder what all the fuss was about. This building building  from the 1980s sports a  apres-earthquake aesthetic that now seems just self-indulgent.

Gabriele Basilico - Karlshorster Strasse from Berlin, 2002
The book records this simply as Karlshorster Strasse. Of course Basilico would know who the architect is, but in his perspective attribution to an architect is a small matter in the face of the city as a total system. Gabriele Basilico’s pictures enable us to see urban spaces ethnographically. They disclose the objective evidence of our labours to build in the space and the form of the city.

[1] “Letter to a city” in Basiclico, G (1999) The Interrupted City
[2]  “A note on the work herein” in Basiclico, G (1999) The Interrupted City
[3] “Letter to a city” in Basiclico, G (1999) The Interrupted City
[4] Boeri, Stefano (1998) “The Italian Landscape: Toward and “Eclectic Atlas” in Italy: Cross Sections of a Country
[5] Siebenhaar, Renate (2002) “Meeting” in Berlin

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