4_BOMBING PARCO SEMPIONE

Our reflection started with the conference of Enrico Giannetto in this studio in November. We all know that behind our ways of life are hidden dramatic damages to environment, abuses on animals, which are consciously accepted, or not. The deforestation is partly caused by our consumption of meat. Oil spills are of course linked to our massive use of fossil energy. This examples are part of an anthropocentric understanding of what’s around us. As if nature was only an open resource. But what Giannetto said is that this obvious violence is extremely linked with other hidden forms. This is a global human attitude toward any form of otherness, a systematic domestication, destruction.Here is a picture that could have been taken in Parco Sempione. We pretend that walking your dog into Parco Sempione is, in a way, more than a maximum of artificiality, a condensate of this general attitude. Parco Sempione is the biggest green area of the centre of Milan. It used to be the ducal hunting park of the Castello Sforzesco, in which were artificially introduced all kinds of animals, to be killed by some privileged people. It was then abandoned in 1861 and became a parade ground for the army. And finally it has been designed as a garden in 1894 by Emilio Alemagna. It is made according to the English romantic gardens of the 19th century, with paths for walkers and cars going through a completely artificial landscape, needing maintenance. The nature is seen as a comfortable and peaceful element, allowing humans to enhance their feelings about life in a park, which almost becomes a social playground. In 1906 the park hosted the Universal Exhibition on transportation, at a time when industrial technologies finally allowed us to control our physical environment. Parco Sempione can be seen as a symbol of an affirmation of humans against any other form of life: anthropocentric, imperialist and definitely violent. Because the attitude it reflects nowadays have dramatic damages. We bomb it. We bomb it for everybody to see this violence. We destroy it. We deforest it. We take it away from Milan inhabitants for other species.This is radical, but in a way the only possible issue. Now, let’s imagine that digging 20 meters on the whole area, we would find something else. Try to consider this wonderful idea that under our feet it can be something else. Something that was here and that we never saw, on which the city was laid. That otherness can be just here. We think that biodiversity is understanding that there is this something else, that we can’t understand, that we can’t replace, that we can’t domesticate. And the first thing we should do is to change our behaviours, showing more modesty and respect. This theme of otherness is actually at the heart of the romanticism of the 18th-19th centuries, in literature, philosophy, painting. It leads to consider the immense void between us and the world around, through emotions rather than reason. It was still an anthropocentric approach of this otherness, as if nature was the mirror of our soul. As if this otherness was reflected in ourselves. But the main difference between romanticism and our time is that somehow otherness doesn’t physically exist anymore on earth. Maybe except at a microscopic scale. We discovered all the parts of the world, control them, protect them, invaded them. Otherness becomes artificial, abstract, in us. This is the immense paradox of biodiversity. We control otherness, we are the only ones who can reveal it, but we can’t reach it with reason. And in Parco Sempione we assume this power. We assume this artificiality. Our hands destroy, our hands dig, our hands can bring plants and animals. We try to give back to this space an artificial dimension of mystery, of curiosity, of fear. 
It goes through the creation of frank limits around, under the ground. There is no visual interruption of the city. The excavated space becomes neither out of the city nor completely inside of it. It becomes something else, with another ground, other rules, and another temporality. You might not see the city from inside of it.            But how to give this else a new value for the inhabitants of Milan? How to invite people to share experience? Most of the city dwellers never entered a forest at night and probably have no reason to do so.We give a financial value to this space through a touristic interest, using the excitement produced by advertisement, consumerism. Come to live an unforgettable experience into the wild nature. Through what appears to be a contemporary form of zoo. But we are more interested by the visitors of the zoo than by the animals it can host. And we could speak about a balanced-zoo, not in the sense that animals could be interested in watching humans moving in a cage but to create a kind of equitable relation between visitors and animals, nobody really knowing who is caged.
We push the cynicism to the creation of a price range for the visitors. The more you pay, the closer you will get to the inside of the park via the exciting attractions we propose to you and that you can find on this axonometry. There are two similar underground buildings one in front of the other, in the continuity of the wall. One is located in Arco della Pace and the other in Castello Sforzesco, both being linked by a funicular. The access-buildings around contain several levels. The poor up and the rich down, all that with a terraces shape so you can envy those downstairs. The envelope is a monumental concrete cage, the narrow voids between the bars bringing some mysterious light. In the walls around the park are two levels of galleries, the lower being at the level of the park with thinner bars. The price you pay in a way determines the model of the cage you choose for you walk around the park. And if you can afford it you can ever enter the park. But it is then up to you to ensure you own safety. You are a host inside your city, a depraved visitor of Parco Sempione, who spent money to finish in a cage. Maybe it is enough to recreate some mystery.

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