I would like to point out what in my opinion are two central elements of the Vigne Museum project and of today’s meeting. Firstly, let us dwell a little on the nature of this project. One could think that this is a project typical of today’s “liquid society”, brought into focus by Zygmut Bauman, a project therefore aimed towards a lightening and which perhaps in the end by “losing weight” also loses its meaning, but it is not the case at all. Yona Friedman is indeed a great architect who currently is working with Jean-Baptiste Decavèle, and who has always worked in unfinished architecture.
Here they have created a “programmed void”, which will be “filled” by the meanings that will be developed around this Museum, through the use, attitudes, processes that will gravitate around it. Freedom of form means giving space to the construction of relationships and of an evidently shared meaning, which can be born from this territory.
It is not something that was defined at the beginning, but something that grew later, in this case precisely thanks to the relationship with the surroundings and the landscape. An intervention such as this effectively underlines and appraises the landscape the moment in which it rewrites it; it lets us see it through the eyes of art. This is a precious underlining, in my opinion, and it is precisely the best meaning for what is known as Environmental Art, an art form that gathers the advice and suggestions of the landscape and of its morphology.
I think that today one of the great challenges perhaps of our country is that of trying to as much as possible unite a cultural heritage with a heritage of business and entrepreneurial knowledge. On one hand there is a very structured business knowledge that in Italy has been decisive, having contributed in the 50s and 60s up to a few years ago to the development of our country, and on the other hand we Italians have an incredible historical heritage.
I think that today art can greatly benefit businesses or companies precisely because it brings into question certain fundamental points of entrepreneurial thinking and, even before that, of the way of thinking itself.
When a business man meets an artist the first problem is that of language because these are two worlds with different languages. Even when on the part of the business there is a sensibility for art, the language is still however distant. A business runs risks, it needs results, concreteness and at the end of the day it needs to do the books. An artist has the freedom to travel inside the imagination and see how to make possible what has been elaborated in his mind. For this reason we have created these round tables.
When one sits down to immediately set up a project it hardly ever works, things aren’t followed through. Yona, Jean Baptiste and I all love and observe dogs who are extraordinary because they sniff each other and slowly come together, forming groups. We should copy them. I think that Livio Felluga had an intuition close to that of an artist when he first saw the landscape today hosting the vast expanse of the company’s vineyards and that have allowed today’s artistic proposal to the Felluga company. I would like to add something else: I have seen here not only a passionate family, I have seen all the collaborators, the workers involved, who send their regards, who are happy with their work, and I thought that the first miracle – miracles don’t just happen; they are created – or the first result of the project was precisely this: an entire business participating with enthusiasm, and this seems to me to be truly important.
As if the internal cohesion had been reinforced. I believe a great deal in this immaterial effect that can be produced by the collaboration between artists and businesses, a bit of good will that the world is rather in need of.
Our problem was making a proposal that didn’t alter the equilibriums present which I feel the presence of. I think that what we have proposed coincides with a wider desire to find modalities that can guarantee the survival of the terrestrial globe. I truly appreciated the possibility of being able to improvise, something which is the foundation of our work. I was able to improvise along with the whole Felluga family and the workers of the company, overcoming the various problems as we went along. The question was: How do I translate what I perceive in this landscape on the one hand and the energy coming to me from the people around me and collaborating with me on the other into an architectural proposal? I have to add Yona’s and my love for wine, something which was fundamental for this project. Yona likes to say that wine is not only one of the oldest foodstuffs we know of, an enormous amalgam of flavours and tastes, but it also has the great quality of creating a sense of sharing.
Yona’s thought is that of autonomy, or rather how to create autonomy in society. Western architecture is characterised by an excess of construction; many useless buildings that could have been avoided.
Architecture was born in prehistory as a way to protect man from the elements, from the sun, from snow, from rain. Only later was another function added that would take over; that of the separation between inside and outside. This second function has collapsed with the internet. Nowadays being inside or outside no longer makes sense because everyone can participate everywhere.
Plants are the living representation of flexibility, they are extremely fascinating organisms; many of the concepts I have heard mentioned today: community, network, survival, modernity, adaptation – are all terms that perfectly describe what a plant is.
For a plant, surrounded by insects, herbivores, all types of animals, the only way to survive is to be built in a completely different way to animals which concentrate into specialised organs. A plant breathes without lungs, it digests without a stomach, it sees without eyes, it hears without ears and, lastly and most exceptionally of all, it reasons, communicates, resolves problems without having a brain; it is even capable of remembering. Plants are modern because they don’t have a centralised organisation. Everything is diffused. Our society, machines, equipment, all our objects are built keeping in mind that we are animals. Plants are different; they are a new system to be inspired by when building new things.
The landscape, particularly the agricultural one, becomes an element, perhaps the central one, in which the individual or collective existential project unravels, with the objective of realising a quality of life which should contemplate both material and immaterial aspects; children of the society producing them. With today’s eyes we can say that this landscape answers to several important watchwords among which equilibrium, rationality, scenic value, respect, emotion.
We should count ourselves lucky because in the end the people of these lands – peasants first, enlightened entrepreneurs later, who have their land in their hearts – have begun reconstructing the landscape with the same sensibilities of before, more or less conscious that places have a value, a sense and that for this reason they become a heritage which is for everyone, beyond single cadastral units overcoming the barriers and confines.
Livio Felluga has chosen as label representing himself the geographical map; the perfect description and tale of the places.
The landscape is a child of time, of the political, ideological, economic and even value-related choices of the society expressing it. In fact, every day we make choices, gestures, conducts that more or less unconsciously produce landscapes, yet at the same time we do not perceive it as ours; we reject it also on the basis of models linking it to a rural past.
As such, though at times with difficulty, a “new” concept of territory comes alive, one that is not just the place in which one lives and works, but also which preserves the history of those who have lived there and who have transformed it and the signs that have characterised it, and which contains widespread heritage rich in details and above all a dense network of relations and interrelations between the many even emotional elements that distinguish it.
The museum is planted on something, a museum of growth in a dimension of harmony with nature and this I think is fundamental for rethinking the idea of a museum in a natural context where the almost musical structure grows in harmony with nature.
The Vigne Museum presents itself as a mobile thing, linked to a dynamic concept of growth that develops and envelops. There is a harmony analogous to music. The SoundArtMuseum and the Iconostasis are very close as museums because they are both strong structures, yet open, permeable, sensitive and they interact with their surroundings like sound which is sensitive to the environment. Yona in this sense is the most musical of architects in his way of assimilating the surroundings, of being the surroundings, of being open. The very essence of the museum is to become one with the land. Culture must be planted. The growing iconostasis, a structure that grows with a shape that can change over time, can be modified and this is fundamental in a living museum. A museum must live, it must be lived.
The Vigne Museum must be seen, I think, as the most important example in recent years of a museum that does not want to close or decontextualise, but rather that is born and develops with the surrounding context. A museum today must be a space that interprets the context but that also has its own clear definition. As such it is not fortuitous; even its geometry and its shape are very precise and this is the basis of the harmony it expresses.
What is a museum? It is a way of thinking, of seeing, and this is minimal yet essential architecture. The Vigne Museum is a truly important thing because it is interesting to see how with little means, few ingredients such a fantastic, mysterious thing can be created.