There are two strikingly different interpretations of Antonioni’s 1964 film, Il Deserto Rosso. Many felt the movie highlighted the oppressive and unnatural qualities of Italy’s industrialized landscape in the postwar years. However, Antonioni intended to show how “even factories can be beautiful. The line and curves of the factories and their chimneys can be more beautiful than the outline of trees, which we are already too accustomed to seeing.” The sentiments surrounding this film highlight the simple but important theme of adjusting and the fact that there are those who accept change and those who don’t.
In 1973, a large group of architects, designers and artists gathered “to bridge the alienating gap which has been created between the functions of the hands and those of the mind.” Known as Global Tools this was the second most important moment for the radicals. It took place one year after Italy: The New Domestic Landscape, the unifying exhibition which gave rise to the radical’s fame. in attendance at Casabella’s headquarters in Milan were Lapo Binazzi and the rest of UFO, Germano Celant, Ugo la Pietra, Alessandro Mendini, Franco Raggi, Ettore Sottsass Jr, Archizoom Associati, Remo Buti, Riccardo Dalisi, 9999, Gaetano Pesce, Gianni Pettena, Press, Superstudio and Azigguratt.
The size of the group was massive and scope of the project was highly focused. The goal was to form a series of seminars and workshops addressing “the study and use of natural techniques and materials” Symbolized by rudimentary tools like a hammer. Superstudio began acquiring and documenting the simple tools found in southern italian towns, eventually concentrating on the walking stick as an artifact.
Unfortunately Global Tool’s vision was too particular and Superstudio was not the only group. It seems impossible to have groups like Archizoom, who embraced the effects of modernization collaborating with Superstudio or Gianni Pettena. Global Tools eventually failed in 1975 after only a single seminar and two magazines. This moment also highlighted the divisions amongst what seemed to be a focused and unified group of radical architects three years prior at indl.
While groups like Superstudio and Archizoom are often shown in tandem, they seem more like foils. Archizoom chose to explore the new tenants of a modern Italy, whereas Superstudio began to turn to the past. I wonder how they each reacted to iI Deserto Rosso.
Enjoy the weekend.
Posted by Nicolas Allinder