Architecture with both eyes open to the future
On occasion of the presentation of the Utopie Radicali exhibition at the Strozzina venue, the Museo Novecento and the Fondazione Architetti Firenze announce the publication of the monograph by Marco Ornella and Emanuele Piccardo addressing the 9999 group of radical architects, with never-before-seen photographs and filmed material tracing the group’s history.
Exhibition Preview: 27 October 2017 at 12:30 p.m.
It was 1969 when Space Electronic opened in a former and flood-damaged garage in Via Palazzuolo. Not the Florentine discotheque we know today, but a space for research and experimentation assiduously frequented by such myths as Dario Fo, Julian Beck and Judith Malina with their Living Theatre; and the Van Der Graaf Generator, Rory Gallagher and Canned Heat, Equipe 84, Demetrio Stratos’ Area and Formula Tre.
This progressive, future-looking scene is the subject of Rivoluzione 9999 (at the Museo Novecento from 28 October 2017 until 28 January 2018), the first exhibition of materials dealing exclusively with the 9999 group of radical architects, active in Florence from 1968 to 1972, founded by Giorgio Birelli, Carlo Caldini, Fabrizio Fiumi and Paolo Galli.
The exhibition space, located next to the Museo Novecento’s monographic section on radical architecture, proposes a tribute to this group of young architects proudly defined by Giorgio La Pira as ‘Florence’s ambassadors’ in the East, as Carlo Caldini was also wont to point out.
Documents, filmed interviews and stills of a past projected toward the Florence of the future are on show at an event organised by the Museo Novecento and the Fondazione Architetti Firenze and curated by Marco Ornella and Emanuele Piccardo, with scientific direction by Valentina Gensini; an event intended to give us a chronological retroview of the themes of the 9999 group’s research: the study trips to North America, India and London, the happenings and the Space Electronic discotheque.
Carlo Caldini’s and Marco Prete’s journeys through the American continent permitted the original Gruppo 9999 (later, simply ‘9999’) to expand its architectural and cultural horizons by acquiring hands-on knowledge of the phenomena of the time, such as California counterculture, Paolo Soleri’s experiments in Arizona, Montreal’s Expo 67 and visits to the Los Angeles and Las Vegas metropolises. 9999 studied Marshall McLuhan’s theories and put them into practice in architectural space, as during the Happening su Ponte Vecchio held on 25 September 1968: the walled surfaces were the screens for projections of astronauts, signs and forms that used a visual code to redefine perception of the monument. And then came the Space Electronic discotheque: inaugurated in 1969, venue for numerous events including the Living Theatre’s performance of Paradise Now, the brainchild of Caldini and Fiumi who also managed the space.
The exhibition is an important occasion for presenting such unpublished materials as snapshots and films in Super 8, performance photographs of the Living Theatre, the interviews with the 9999 members used by Elettra Fiumi in the film entitled A Florentine Man, dedicated to her father Fabrizio and the photo sequences shot by Giorgio Birelli during construction of the boat conceived by Paolo Galli, the group’s final collective act before it was dissolved.
The aim of 9999’s work was to rethink the forms and languages of architecture at the dawn of the era of electronics and massification of consumption, and in doing so the group developed – within what is known as the Neoavanguardia Architettonica Italiana – a new project form positing the coexistence of the intimacy of the manual process and the broad reach of the media event as transmitted by the television channels, technological progress and environmentalist sentiment.
Rivoluzione 9999 is produced in cooperation with the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, which from 20 October 2017 through 21 January 2018, at the Strozzina venue, is presenting Utopie Radicali, an exhibition celebrating the Florentine creative season of the radical movement in architecture of the 1960s and 1970s. For this reason, visitors to the Museo Novecento who show their Palazzo Strozzi ticket will be entitled to a reduced-price museum admission; the same is true for visitors to Palazzo Strozzi who present a Museo Novecento ticket.
Designer and exhibition curator, Ornella earned a degree from the Politecnico di Milano in 2011 and graduated the Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti in 2013. In 2015, he released 9999. An Alternative to One-Way Architecture (published by plug_In), the first monograph and the first in-depth investigation – begun in 2013 – of the 9999 group, a collective belonging to the Florentine branch of the Italian Architettura Radicale movement; other essays and articles on the subject followed. His current research activity centres on the figures not adequately investigated by historiography to date. He has contributed to PLATFORM magazine and has been published by Quodlibet.
Piccardo earned his degree in architecture from the University of Genoa in 2000. Architecture historian, photographer and film director, he qualifies as an expert in Architettura Radicale. His shows include Radical City (Turin, 2012) and Beyond Environment (Los Angeles, 2014; Lissone and San Giovanni Valdarno, 2015). In 2013 he was awarded a Graham Foundation grants and, in 2015, the Autry Scholar Fellowship. He is editor of the archphoto.it digital architecture digest, a member of the editorial board of Il Giornale dell’Architettura.com and a contributor to Il Manifesto. His films have investigated Adriano Olivetti (Lettera22, 2009), architect Giancarlo De Carlo (L’architetto di Urbino, 2015) and architect Vittorio Giorgini (La balena nel bosco, 2017) and have won awards at various film festivals. His photographs figure in the collections of MAXXI Architettura and at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. He has held conferences at the Princeton School of Architecture, Pratt Institute NYC, Sci-Arc Los Angeles, Polimi, Polito and IUAV.
Complesso dello Spedale delle Leopoldine
Piazza Santa Maria Novella 10, Florence
Exhibition dates: 28 October 2017 – 28 January 2018
Opening hours: Mon – Tue – Wed – Fri – Sat – Sun | 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Thursday | 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Entry until one hour before closing time.
25 December: closed
Tickets: Museum, full price € 8.50; Museum, reduced price € 4; Free of charge for visitors under 18, school groups and accompanying teachers, tour guides and interpreters, disabled visitors and members of ICOM, ICOMOS and ICCROM.