Interview: Azzurra Muzzonigro

Students: “This was the story of Howard Beale, the first known instance of a man who was killed because he had lousy ratings.” This is a quoted message from the narrative voice at the end of the movie “Network”. In the movie the relation between the power of the mass media (the new “prophet” of this modern era) with the prison of individuality, personality, human creativity, that we are building ourself it’s quite clear. A shifting is nowadays bringing the social attention to the celebration of the moment more than to the instant in which the moment itself exist; the society don’t care anything that is not a fancy video, reducing itself prisoner in a cage of pixel, cutting away any relation even with the loved ones. Linking to this how can you imagine the space of interaction between human and biodiversity? How do you think that we can go back to nature (the nature as biodiversity as well as the nature as our origin)?

Azzurra Muzzonigro: The issue of control is an issue of border. It is entirely played in the relation and interaction between elements of a different nature. Within this border, control can become separation or it can become coexistence, it can produce superiority and inferiority or it can produce mutual recognition through encounter. Control is mainly an issue of distance. As Stavros Stavrides says in Towards a City of Threshold, “encounter is produced by keeping the right distance while crossing it at the same time”. The extension and nature of ‘the right distance’ is determined by a complex stratification of intertwined, sometimes contradictory, factors. To eliminate this distance means to assimilate differences within a unitary principle, which leads to uniformity and repetition. To increase this distance means to create hostility through separation. The balance it is to be encountered in the realm of reciprocity. To deal with urban biodiversity means to imagine spaces of coexistence between different living beings. It means to be able to put oneself in the place of the other, looking with his/her eyes, feeling with his/her skin, it means in the first place to abandon the claim for superiority which transforms the necessity of control into a pattern of dominance.

S: When we are talking about relationships and control among humans, it is obvious that they need to somehow build different spaces for several types of control. But how do you see the topic of space and control between human and animal spieces? People try to take control also over the nature, sometimes they build shelter for hiding themselves, sometimes they need coexistance. But do you think that people are capable to control the space for nature?

AM: To step out of the center of the planet means to include others’ points of view in the organization of spaces and relations. This doesn’t mean that human beings should give up in controlling nature, or try to superimpose their presence on the rest of the living beings. In other words: it is not about imagining that the human being suddenly disappears from the planet earth, abandoning urban spaces to be completely recolonized by nature. It is not neither about imposing human’s presence on other forms of life, which would lead to isolation and dominance. If we put ourselves in the position of looking at urbanity as a great opportunity for mutual growth, then it becomes evident how one of the most urgent challenges for contemporary cities is to include, protect and regenerate human, animal and vegetal biodiversity as the source of the multiplicity of life forms. Control of space therefore becomes a necessary feature for coexistence within the urban condition.