expresses the extreme individualism of the creative genius.This kind of individualism is not unfamiliar to Mendini. Moreover, his career has certainly been unusual for an architect.For example, he worked as a magazine designer for Casabella and Domus in the 1970s and later became art director for Bisazza.With him in charge of the creative side in the 1980s, the company was one of the first to work with architects and designers – including Sandro Chia, Ettore Sottsass, Jaime Hayon, Marcel Wanders and Mendini himself. Today it seems perfectly normal, but until then it was unheard of. Mendini rejects the idea that architecture arises from the city. He is firmly convinced that architecture can only be generated from the human body, which he calls the centre of spatial experience. Once more evidence of Mendini’s interest in psychology.
In one of the arrangements at Abitare l’Utopia, the meditation ‘pod’chair by Steven Blaess has a central place – inevitably. It is a chairwith three armrest-backs,which might be associated with the various meanings a patient ascribes to his memories. It is somewhat reminiscent of a recently published book by the Dutch psychologist, Douwe Draaisma: Oblivion (Dutch title: Vergeetboek).The author goes in search of the undervalued ability to forget. Just think how many words exist for the subject of your recollection: memento, souvenir, relic, thought.And for forgetting?Well - what is forgotten? There’s not one synonym. Hardly a word even. What you have forgotten is a kind of recollection preceded by a minus sign.And here is Mendini, back again. Alessandro Mendini, a man of venerable age, a war child, philosopher, thinker and creator, playing with the relationship between objects which, as he puts it, ‘evoke a memory and cause longing for the future’. But what is past often acquires a different meaning in the light of the present.Objects in particular evoke strong emotional associations.
And they, contrary to what we often think, are certainly susceptible to the most amazing transformations. Accordingly, a gift from a loved one will undergo an abrupt metamorphosis when you learn that he or she has been unfaithful. You will try to forget, but often what you want to relegate to oblivion, continues obstinately to be part of your personal utopia.
Collective utopia is also represented in Mendini’s exhibition, by way of the countless props from the theatre, opera and films. Apart from the three armchairs from Verdi’s La Traviata (Verona 2000), there is a futuristic work by Victor Togliani, Eridu (2010) that he created for the script of his film Dance of the Gods. It represents the first human settlements on a new planet. The name of the settlement is Eridu, a reference to the topos that nowadays is known as Abu Schachren.
It is one of the oldest Sumerian cities – possibly the oldest. In the Sumerian King List, Eridu is named as the city of the first mystical kings and can thus be seen as the cradle of the world.Eridu was also the city of the shrine of the god Enki, the friend of Gilgamesh, whose epos became a veritable hype following recent discoveries. In this way, Mendini demonstrates that a topos from the past can in turn be converted into a u-topos, by examining it with the certitudes of the present day.
Niek de Prest