Percepirsi come un’isola

When I received the invitation to participate with a presentation to the “Island built event” project, at first I thought it was just a provocation. Since I had a chance to meet at Venice, the artists, the administrators and the lecturers of the University of Volos, who had organized the Greek pavilion for the recent Venice Architecture Biennale, I was aware of their interest about the inherent problematic regarding the relation between the locations and the interaction with their inhabitants. We already had in Venice the occasion to discuss regarding the mutual projects we were on- that was the reason for which I had invited them to have a tour on boat to the Minor islands of the Venice lagoon- about a program I was working on at that time with the roman “Osservatorio Normade” group’s artist and architects, who had already worked in Greece. The minor Venice islands had in the past carried out roles that today it was very difficult to maintain. They were a challenge for anyone who wanted to build a non invasive relation between locations, people and roles.

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May 2005

“A round trip to the Sporades, the boat permits to get together; it is the first concrete exchanging of hypothesis on what to do, or even better on what to think. Some students of the faculty of Architecture are sat around. I’ve talked about “forcing” that I think it was written on the thinking about a project that regards a desert island. Maybe there is not any thought at all to express, but only the acceptance of what Youra actually is: an island that has been imposed to protection measures, restrictive measures, since two animal species extremely rare live in its environment (the Monk seal/ monachus-monachus, and a subspecies of Wild Goat, called Kri-kri). The island of Youra belongs to a marine national park. Fact that resolves the matter about what the island is, what its administrative identity and its role in the contemporary world are. Between our presence around this table and the administrative identity of the island, there is an “empty space” to fill in. This starting condition put some limits, and only if we manage to overcome them, we will, maybe, be able to fill in the “gap”. We are serching, just like this boat between the islands and the shore, for a neutral path that will maintain equal distances from the given conditions. A desert island, a modern administrative role. What I think will be fruitful is the idea of enforcing those limits.

What is the created distance between the dullness of a rock and the law in force? The island is not “desert”. It is a microcosmos of visual languages. As if the complexity that De Certeau sees in common say, could be found also in the common do, that is always a doing inherent to “take place” (I look at a young girl that moves some rocks; around her only some bushes, some stones and pebbles that emerge from the ground; tides up the rocks, rearranges them. In this way she occupies some time and place).

Taking place defines the discontinuity regarding surrounding. Taking place is like “nominating” your own existence.

The net of fencing that surrounds some small buildings; the net of fencing (archetype of every frame) the decorative and beastly function of the goat-heads positioned by the entrances. In the inner of the enclosure: the small church, the guardian’s house, the vegetable garden (a cultivated garden), the grapes, the fig trees, a flower here and there in the small flower bed, the flag pole with the Greek flag. Roles that have been tightly intersected from symbolic aspects. An eventual work of the primary structures (functional/ symbolic) of taking place? (And the solar water heaters that appear on some roofs?)

I followed the group during his exploring the island, a limited exploring on the areas that could be reached through small paths usually used by some guardians that take turns periodically, without permanently remaining on the island. Some minutes before getting to the, anchored on the rocky shore, boat, I went away from the group for a bit. I sat down on a rock on the sea; I did not know, I got to know it later, that the light blue height that was hardly seen in the horizon, was Mount Athos. I take some notes on slips of paper, receipts that I keep saving, in case been needed, in my wallet. I will write down, though, also those last scribbled notes. “Severance? Isolated island? Only calm silence, not even that since I can hear the wind- light, in brief discontinuous gusts- I can hear the breaking of waves, but without any sort of violence. It is rather a vast murmur. And the smell of the wild plants. It is not true that nature says nothing to me. Or rather, it is true: nature says nothing to me. I do not really know well how to describe this very vast existence. The sun heats the rocks, the plants, my self. Nothing remains, nothing to be possible to take away”.

“A fullness that dazes, that inebriates. Chase it with words means getting even more drunk. Losing this state of being…there are other states of existence apart from the word. Yes, “here and now”. But there is little to say, what I could say, towards the vastness that is before and all around me.”

From the text “Percepirsi come un’isola”, by Riccardo Caldura