Porta Nuova-Garibaldi, Milan 2009-2012
This work is dedicated to those who pass this will think the voices and sounds of the city
One of the key themes of my work within the city is focusing attention on the “other”. My public pieces in the urban sphere take a very specific approach: stepping down from the rhetorical pedestal where the artist is placed by the art world, and attempting to demolish the obsolete rationale whereby public artwork serves to enlighten urban space like an alien object, devoid of any relationship to the social context and neighborhood setting onto which it is grafted.
In my mind, a work can live and function in the city only if it is “felt”, experienced and grasped by its inhabitants. Touching these people directly and dedicating every project to them is something I believe to be an instrumental, integral part of the process that allows the public work to function, to be set in motion, to have its own life within the urban fabric.My piece for the Porta Nuova Garibaldi project is based precisely on this parallel attempt to enter into contact with both the architecture housing it, and the people who will use that space: residents, passers-by and random or habitual visitors.
The project develops vertically, crossing four levels of the architecture, coming to terms with the limits set by the needs of the client, the specificities of the architecture and the functional constraints of the building. Twenty-three brass tubes soar through the empty shaft that allows air to circulate between the parking garage and the upper floors, connecting different sections and spaces of the architecture that might seem distant and visually unconnected.The system of brass-plated alluminum components serves a technical, practical and decorative function—as a vast, sculptural balustrade separating visitors from the air shaft—but also traces a new map within the body of the building, a soundscape that unexpectedly links together different points in the structure. The words of passers-by and the noises of the city are what will bring the work to life, so that it becomes a huge musical instrument at the heart of the building, infusing this technical feature of the architecture with new meaning.By placing one’s ear to the opening in each tube—whose material was chosen with its acoustic qualities in mind—one can listen to sounds and voices from some other part of the building, without knowing from who or where they came. Like a venous system within the structure, the work channels the buzz of the city and the hum of its inhabitants. The vast empty space that runs up through the building will thus become a mechanism of interaction rather than separation, a sound board and resonating chamber. The project will generate a sort of positive gossip machine, an infinite grapevine of whispers, a metaphor for the form of the city and the contemporary information system. On the floor near the work, a brief caption will be etched into the stone to help people understand its meaning. It will read: “questi tubi collegano tra loro vari luoghi e spazi dell’edificio quest’opera è dedicata a chi passando di qui penserà alle voci e ai suoni della città”.