it was precisely the “work” of the context, independent of things, people and actions, that constituted a powerful statement. pettena summed up its significance by saying: “it does its job while i do mine. my craft is conditioned by the force and by the presence of the other’s craft.”

29/07/2011 § Leave a comment

gianni pettena’s performance marea (thames tide) (1974)

 

there is no better way of celebrating the accomplishments of 1970’s radical architecture than to feature an exhibition of the work of gianni pettena, since he has been one of the principal victims of scholarly oversight.  the neglect of such an important innovator – in view of the range of his achievements and the fact that he is still producing amazing works today – is simply beyond comprehension….

in my view, the most important architectural interventions by gianni pettena were accomplished during 1971 and ’72 in the usa.  he had long been intrigued by humanity’s optimistic and ego-centric assumption that “nature could be conquered” and architecture was the tool of control.  in the case of three structures – a suburban dwelling in utah and a house and college administration building in minneapolis – he used buildings as foils for describing how easily the conceits of an assumed state of architectural permanence could be reversed by the imposition of natural phenomena.  in his projects entitled “ice 1 and 2.”  pettena used freezing water to totally envelop two buildings and, in perverse way, convert them to a state of quasi invisibility in the landscape.  in the “clay house” of salt lake city, he covered the exterior surface of a private residence with a layer of wet clay, which then hardened into a skin-like entombment of adobe mud.

needless-to-say, these incursions on suburban living were not appreciated by the local residents and totally misunderstood by the architectural establishment.  in reality, pettena’s high-risk gestures tapped into the philosophical discourse surrounding ecological principles.  in usa suburbia – totally submerged as it is in the wasteful practices of rampant consumerism – the whole idea of an adobe dwelling and the assertion of nature’s revenge would inevitably be considered anathema to the american dream.  ice and clay construction is the environmentally intelligent preference of those civilizations living in balance with nature; but in the context of profligate consumption, these materials choices met with a wall of resistance.

during the 1970’s pettena engaged in a series of performance works that, like his ice and clay interventions, explored the relationships between the forces of nature and the human body.  for “thames tide” in london, he staged a polemical discourse on architecture while standing ankle-deep in water along the shoreline of the river.  toward the conclusion of this event, the rising tide engulfed the speaker and he was forced to bring his presentation to an untimely conclusion, or risk being drowned in the cause of design education.

.

[text]     excerpt taken from:  Wines, James. “Gianni Pettena, Gentle Radical.” Gianni Pettena. Ed. Dario Cimorelli. Cinisello Balsamo (Milano): Silvana Editoriale, 2003. Print.

[image]     gianni pettena’s performance marea (thames tide) (1974).   duration about two hours.regarding this piece gianni pettena’s website states:

conference/performance was staged for students at the architectural association of london at the mouth of the thames while the tide was rising: a conference on the theory of architecture, pure, abstract theory, produced in a limited time, its length determined by the constraints imposed by changes in the physical environment.  the conference was necessarily interrupted when the tide grew dangerously high and the cold unbearable, as is clearly shown by the photographic documentation.
it was precisely the “work” of the context, independent of things, people and actions, that constituted a powerful statement.  pettena summed up its significance by saying: “it does its job while i do mine. my craft is conditioned by the force and by the presence of the other’s craft.”

.

be a gentle radical

a young hare

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading it was precisely the “work” of the context, independent of things, people and actions, that constituted a powerful statement. pettena summed up its significance by saying: “it does its job while i do mine. my craft is conditioned by the force and by the presence of the other’s craft.” at a young hare.

meta

%d bloggers like this: