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Impossible research. Imagination in the architectural project

Impossible research. 

Imagination in the architectural project

“Impossible Research. Or rather, theatre without a show” was the title of the programme proposed by Carmelo Bene for the theatre section of the Venice Biennial in the quadrennial 1988-92. The intention was to promote “workshops and research”, to make “theatre without a show” in which the very idea of theatre was removed from the conventional structures of communication and representation to take it back to an authentic scenario of play, live art and prohibited expression. 

IMPOSSIBLE RESEARCH IN ARCHITECTURE concerns the combination of a part that can be ascribed to the conventions and rules of representation, its technical-linguistic nature (téchne) and a soul (arché) that cannot be spoken of and which belongs to the sphere of art and expression.

The semantic field in which architecture is called to express itself is the city. It is obvious that our own times are characterised by a hypertrophic instinct for communication, which J. L. Nancy has defined “hyper-representativeness”. An instinct that is born and imposes itself on our epoch to the extent in which it convinces that the meaning, beauty and use of every thing can be reduced to unequivocally communicable contents. Contents that are technologically certified and made available to all, without shade and ambiguity, eliminating every residue of the unknown, every excess of spirituality and intimacy.

In the city of architecture the expressive content cannot be communicated analytically under the form of information, but can be syncretically, in the architectural form and in the application of the symbolic-figurative imagery it refers to, which contributes to ceaseless invention and reactivation This fundamental part of urban nature is in point of fact unproductive: it produces nothing, communicates nothing, seeks to explain nothing. And, like the theatre of Carmelo Bene, it corresponds to its most vital part: it produces the “empty” space in which to assume the responsibility to exist and desire.

For this part, research in Architecture is impossible. While all the national and European research programmes request a description of the final objectives, the results to be reached and the economic implications, this primogenital nature of Architecture (arché) can only be carried out through the express fascination of the rediscovered form. Belonging to the sphere of “that which cannot be spoken of” that which cannot be communicated unequivocally, the expressive content of architecture can only be the object of an exemplification of a persuasive and fideistic character, which we have called “figurative proofs” and which correspond to projects that can draw upon this subterranean and invisible world of meanings, which they feed upon while being illuminated by man’s desires. 

This journal issue of FAmagazine covers articles of theoretical nature and others more specifically design as testimonials or "pictorial evidence" of the topic in question. These are projects of the Elizabethan Theatre in Gdansk of Renato Rizzi, plans for six houses, a float pool and three theaters of Jonathan Kirschenfeld, and a part of the Padua city of Gino Malacarne.

Lamberto Amistadi, Ildebrando Clemente

Pablo Picasso, Las Meninas, 1957; Diego Velàzques, Las Meninas, 1656.

Pablo Picasso, Las Meninas, 1957; Diego Velàzques, Las Meninas, 1656.

If Dante makes Beatrice nine years old, it is because he must write about her and therefore she, by your leave, must not exist. What is this child? What is she not, meanwhile? She is not a woman. She is delightful because she isn't. She is a woman. And is anything but "beautiful". Making children out of under-age women is vulgar. This Beatrice is not a Lilliput-woman; we are not in the pigmyism of the female. We are in the lack of a woman: disiata, because she is missing, that's all.

Io dubitava e dicea “Dille, dille!”

fra me: “dille” dicea, alla mia donna

che mi disseta con le dolci stille;

ma quella reverenza che s’indonna

di tutto me, pur per Be e per Ice,

mi richiamava come l’uom ch’assonna.

The little girl does not exist. Through the girl, the woman herself does not exist. We really must not appreciate this age of the woman who, not being such thanks to her, amazes us. […] The girl, provvidenza incosciente dell’onnipotenza, is a miracle, albeit not a woman, she is real and alive nonetheless. She is a work of art. […]. The little girl is life and that's all; she is missing and she exists: blonde, blue-green-black-purple-eyed. […]
The girl Beatrice. Beatrice is a name and at the same time a name agreed on, almost a cipher of the unnameable. That is what is missing in a name:

non sapeano che si chiamare

Start from "Bea" and "ice". This is the aphasia of nomination. The missing word in Beatrix (in bliss).

If the word is a gift in the mouths of those who do not use it to say anything other than the word itself, which will never smarrire la parola. And it is here that old Schopenhauer again becomes that educator that Nietzsche recognized: Saint Cecilia – thus does the master close his superb chapter on art – abandons his musical instruments and lets himself be dragged into heaven by the angels, outside the canvas itself, outside the specifics of the music:


Che se ne fa delle armonie degli angeli,

quando ha trovato gli angeli in persona?

And hence the girl infancy is the aphasia of the naming, and the fading of the word. It is the end of art. Schopenhauer opens up to the ascesis; I become enchanted in this moment of absolute grace that artists cannot merit, but only the saints. Heroism is surpassed. Little girl: word lost.
Girl present = woman absent = word that in saying it fades.

“Dille, dille!”

And then the voice, which from a major key, descends to meet its death in the minor allegretto, the only possible tonality to meet the girl-life that innocently runs around there becoming a meeting; the voice loses its voice. La voce perde se stessa. Musically there is silence; and "qui l’arte vien meno / qui respirano la terra e il fato". Only miracles occur. Everything else is atoned for.


Translation into English by Alex Gillan

y. VII - nr. 42 - oct, dec 2017
edited by: Paolo Strina
y. VII - nr. 41 - jul, sep 2017
edited by: Angela D'Agostino
y. VII - nr. 39 - jan, mar 2017
edited by: Lamberto Amistadi, Francesco Primari
y. VII - nr. 38 - oct, dec 2016
edited by: Tommaso Brighenti
y. VII - nr. 37 - jul, sep 2016
edited by: Giuseppina Scavuzzo
y. VII - nr. 36 - apr, jun 2016
edited by: Renato Capozzi
y. VII - nr. 35 - jan, mar 2016
edited by: Orsina Simona Pierini
y. VI - nr. 34 - oct, dec 2015
edited by: Andrea Matta
y. VI - nr. 33 - jul, sep 2015
edited by: Enrico Prandi
y. VI - nr. 32 - apr, jun 2015
edited by: Lamberto Amistadi
y. VI - nr. 31 - jan, mar 2015
edited by: Andreas Kofler
y. V - nr. 30 - nov, dec 2014
edited by: Enrico Prandi
y. V - nr. 29 - sep, oct 2014
edited by: Enrico Prandi, Lamberto Amistadi
y. V - nr. 27-28 - may, aug 2014
edited by: Lamberto Amistadi, Ildebrando Clemente
y. V - nr. 26 - mar, apr 2014
edited by: Mauro Marzo
y. V - nr. 25 - jan, feb 2014
edited by: Carlo Gandolfi
y. IV - nr. 24 - sep, oct 2013
edited by: Enrico Prandi, Paolo Strina
y. IV - nr. 23 - jul, aug 2013
edited by: Antonella Falzetti
y. IV - nr. 22 - may 2013
edited by: Giuseppina Scavuzzo
y. III - nr. 21 - oct, nov 2012
edited by: Lamberto Amistadi