area 119 | gaetano pesce

architect: Gaetano Pesce

location: Milano

year: 2010

The first idea of “L‘italia in Croce“ dates back to 1976, year of the above drawing. The project at that moment wasn‘t realized for the tricky policy situation of those years

Italy needs a dynamic, young political class, one that is aware of the changes that this ever-shifting time throws at us. A political class that will value and honour creativity and work. A political class that, instead of spending its time blabbing away, will come out with plans that will help our country and will make it progress into the future to advantageously face the huge competition of the other countries of the world. A political class that will stop wasting its energies in fruitless mutual attacks. A political class that will come up with big plans and will accomplish them, giving the country the wellbeing it deserves and its youth the work they are entitled to have. A political class that is capable of reforming the Italian schooling system and making it instrumental to giving young people the skills they need to fit in with the complexity of this day and age. I want to raise a debate between the “healthy” figures of the Italian public and non-public life, trying to keep out the “mediocrities“, the hot-air merchants and the old party fighters, the conformists and all those whose inactivity, self-righteousness, selfishness and conservatism have “crucified” our country“. Gaetano Pesce, January 2011

from Murray Moss to Gaetano Pesce April 19th 2011

Dear Gaetano, I wanted to write to you (please excuse this email rather than hand written….) to tell you how moved I was by L‘Italia in Croce. I wept. It is so rare when a work needs no explanation – that a powerful image, so clear and shockingly articulate in its metaphor – can convey profound ideas and become a call to action, to change, to revolution. And, strangely, it was also so beautiful. Poor Italy, writhing on the Cross in such human agony, with grace and yet obvious disappointment – dying for our sins. And the Priest almost ready to read to us, again, perhaps this time not with futility, the Sermon – the Constitution. I hired as a driver in Milan a student – Federico – who is 22 years old and finishing his studies in Political Science. I hired him last year as well. He has NO interest in “design“, and is an angry young man. In the car, we talk, and he told me he and his friends were so angry and desperate about their country, and depressed, that he was hoping to get a job in another country – to leave Italy. I invited him to go with me to see L‘Italia in Croce. His mouth fell open – he read the wall text and shook his head and was amazed. You spoke for him – you made visual what he and his friends were feeling and thinking. He had never heard of you. He didn‘t know this was possible, or allowed. Thank you for being such a Patriot to Italy, which we all love and wish to prosper. You are wonderful.
Love, Murray

I first encountered my friend Gaetano Pesce‘s “voice“ nearly forty years ago, when as a young man I visited Emilio Ambasz‘s remarkable exhibition, “Italy: The New Domestic Landscape“, at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. In the catalogue to this exhibition, Gaetano‘s installation – a project involving the discovery of a small subterranean city, belonging to the epoch known as “The Period of the Great Contaminations“ - is the sole entry in the chapter titled, “Design as Commentary“. In his description of this futuristic evaluation of our own epoch, Gaetano articulates a list of “motivations“ that lead to the establishment of this architectural typology, including “symbolism as a refuge“ and “the architect as adversary“. Years later, in 1995, in his intervention “Temporanea“, where he installed his remarkable and poignant object, “Un vaso (goto?) per Venezia“ at the Caffè Florian in Piazza St. Marco during the time of the Biennale, again Gaetano created his own chapter on “Design as Commentary“; the vessel, which sadly depicts the Lion of Venice as The Pink Panther, is adorned with the artist‘s written hopes for his beloved city: “A toast to that she become a focus of modern life, modern behaviour, progress, services, joys, optimism, discoveries, trust in the future, courage, openness to the culture of the contemporary world....and not a place of prejudice, protection, conservatism, immobility, soporific locution, museum-cult of the past, reactionary example, hopeless venue for future generations, full of torpor, provincialism, mute and nostalgic enterprises...“. And here we are once again. Years later. He will not stop. (Will he stop if we listen? if we DO SOMETHING?). In this island of Italian Culture on the Island of Manhattan, Gaetano places in our midst his “L‘Italia in Croce“. It is clear and loud (“Boom!“), this 2000 year-old message of suffering and sacrifice and despair, and yet perhaps the most universal, articulate, and long-lasting signifier of a hopeful metamorphosis. Please everyone understand that Gaetano is not (and never has been) the “architect as adversary“, as he indirectly characterized himself (?) in his catalogue description of the 1972 MoMA exhibition I first mentioned. (To me) Gaetano – over and over again – is quite the opposite: he is a shepherd amongst us. His Symbol is The Question Mark – for some more tortuous than the Cross. Thank you, Gaetano, for Caring. Thank you, Sir, for your Bravery. Thank you, Sir, for Asking. With love and gratitude,
Murray Moss