Edoardo Tresoldi and the heteronomy of architecture
Copyright (c) 2021 Edoardo Tresoldi
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The Heteronomy of architecture «is understood as the condition to be pursued if one sets one’s goal of producing buildings that belong to one’s own time, to the complex interweaving of values and needs that characterise it, to the place where they arise»1.
Heteronomy in architecture allows us to break the boundaries still linked to the concept of the now obsolete scientific sector. The breaking of these boundaries makes a trans-disciplinary contribution possible and consequently leads us to having a transversal vision. One of the people who recently successfully pursued the road of the Heteronomy of architecture and art through a borderline path is Edoardo Tresoldi, an Italian sculptor who «investigates the poetics of the dialogue between man and landscape using architectural language as an expressive tool and key to reading space». The artist plays with the transparency of the metal mesh to transcend the space-time dimension and narrate a dialogue between Art and World, a visual synthesis that reveals itself in the fading of the physical limits of his works2.
Five themes were taken into consideration to address the issue of the heteronomy of architecture with the Sculptor Tresoldi. The first one concerns the PLACE, because architecture, as materially utilitarian, is completely conditioned by the material and immaterial context of which it is part. Tresoldi’s works, in the sense of public art, are to be considered the expression of a heteronomous discipline. In fact, his work is strongly linked to this concept already in the initial choice of material and in the desire to express transparency by encountering paths, languages and transversal dialogues between the elements of the work and those of the landscape. «Inserting an element within a context builds relationships and intertwining dynamics that dialogue in a game of cross-references. The physical elements reconnect us to the archetypes we have built in our experiential journey and then become cultural. The moment we see a tree, for example, the relationship between us and the tree is the one we have built by coming into contact with trees in our lives. Automatically the tree, as well as a house, the sky or other basic elements is already an experience that determines a sort of automatism in relating to that or any other element already experienced. Then there are other elements that are part of our cultural heritage, which preserve and hold within themselves different languages».
Working with archaeology, Tresoldi associated the sacredness of the classical language with the transparency and elements of the landscape, constructing images, languages and narratives of the surrounding space. For the sculptor, the Lombardy farmsteads have had an important relevance in the development of his sensitivity to the landscape. Places that at a young age escaped from his everyday life, the abandoned farmhouses are ruins full of poetry characterized by a dimension of transience today. They are the places that inspire the artist because it is here that anyone can go and allow themselves a moment of suspension with themselves and with the place.
The second theme tackled is the PROJECT, understood as an action of prefiguration, of casting ahead, beyond cultural, social and historical influences. According to Tresoldi, an author can be compared to an organism that absorbs certain concepts, lives them and finally releases them through the creative act. When the artist finds himself creating a work, he prefers to go to the place to try to intercept the dynamics of the place in which he can find himself and express himself. When he connects with a place and sees the key to intercept certain elements, he lives this process in a partially selfish way, while in the phase of elaboration of the installation the artist expresses himself through recognizable languages common to all. From here the goal is to intercept and work with simple archetypes that make his works as direct as possible: «the process is similar to that of composing a love song that, most of the time, is written by the author in a specific moment lived with a specific person. In that case, the experience is extremely personal but the moment it is told, it becomes a choral experience».
A project is therefore nothing more than a work that can build, transcend, or transport from an intimate experience to a collective one. The sculptor also argues that as human beings we construct our knowledge based on personal experiences and we learn about hate, love or a range of feelings often through the same experiences. «Even just talking as human beings we possess a common alphabet that allows us to structure a series of collective experiences. All of this is the synthesis that allows us to connect deeply with what is around us».
Beginning with “Opera”, Tresoldi’s latest installation consisting of a colonnade of forty-six wire mesh elements up to eight meters high, located in Reggio Calabria, the third theme can be introduced: TIME. Tresoldi’s forty-six columns, according to the architect Maria Pilar Vettori, recall the “Danteum” project by Giuseppe Terragni and Pietro Lingeri designed in 1939 (never built) and the fresco present in “Sala del Bacio” of Bertoja, realized between 1570 and 1573, in Parma (where Terragni did his military service). Between these three works there seems to be an interweaving, a kind of mechanism of trace, of memory, as if there is a kind continuity in the creative process influenced by the times and by innovation. On this proposal of continuity Tresoldi argues that when an artist no longer works for references, but for necessity of expression, it becomes fascinating to imagine that both he and Terragni, as well as Bertoja, felt the need to use the column element and transparency to tell their essential concept linked to their own time and perception. His choice to use columns in Reggio Calabria is linked to the idea of being able to mark that area with a transparent colonnade that was an open space of crossing and that created perspective corridors both towards the sea and towards the sky: this was for Tresoldi the best way to tell the dimension of the Strait of Messina. «The use of the column as an element refers to a classical archetype and as such is recognized as a pure element for the narrative of a place, of an architectural space».
By working with transparency, the sculptor has tried to translate his idea into the language of contemporaneity. This pure relationship with the elements is also what allows us to understand how the meanings of certain archetypes (the column, transparency) have evolved over time. Time, in Tresoldi, has made his idea of transparency change, transforming it into the concept of Absent Matter. Starting from a concept, from an instinct towards a material, one can see how his work on absence has transformed over time. Although today many people associate his work with wireframe drawings, in reality Tresoldi’s work arises from a strongly real, material, analogue action. In fact, his work is based on “sewing” the net, an act that physically would have been conceivable even in the past. However, in ‘65, for example, nobody could have connected it to the wireframe. So, his work, compared to that of Terragni and Bertoja, has also been added to the idea of virtual space constructed in the last twenty years. In addition to this, Tresoldi said that he realized that most of the time he himself does not decide the themes of a work, but they are built by instinct, then translated into a story. For example, when at the beginning of his career he created human figures that lived in the landscape, while building a storytelling around them, these were often defined by the newspapers as “Tresoldi’s fanstasms”. Even if the work had a concept behind it, it was often summarized with this expression. In the image of transparency, the figure of the ghost and the discourse of absence are already intrinsic. This is due, in part, to the fact that it is a visual construction derived from the cinematic world, where a transparent image was used to render the idea of ghosts. Therefore, the evolution of the visual narrative of man has led to narrate the absence through transparency. All this implies that in the moment in which codes are used, images already narrate a value, a story that can vary in time.
Another theme, already introduced by transparency, is the one related to MATTER and to Tresoldi’s relationship with materiality, with constructability, with the body, with gravity and with the technical part that approaches the artistic one. The use of the net as an instrument is due to the desire to represent transparency by working on the tensions of the structure. The first works, as stated by the sculptor, were all drawn by hand and built starting from the roll of wire mesh, as if it were a puzzle in which the individual elements were drawn, made, cut and assembled. Over time, however, one learns to know a material and therefore to know, without scientific calculations, where problems of static tightness may arise. In this way, experience has made Tresoldi learn real know-how. However, for large projects it is necessary to interface with engineers for a specific and scientific analysis of the works. It follows that behind each work there is a process in which the artist draws the idea that will subsequently be realized by the team and where the choral action often involves a contamination of languages; a path, an ancestral experience. In this way Tresoldi decides to remain in the artistic dimension linked to the sensibility and the poetics of meeting places rather than flowing into the architectural sphere. Therefore, the building site is no longer intended as a place of work but becomes a means by which to know the place itself, implying a social responsibility linked to the presence of a community that revolves around it. In fact, the sculptor’s artistic training, coming from the world of film set design, still influences his approach characterized by a dimension of collective work in which everyone is part of a process that will be carried out by the “community”. It is precisely from the concept of community and the sculptor’s desire to make a construction site such that his desire to give life, together with YAC - Young Architects Competitions, to TRAC - Tresoldi Academy, a school where, moving from the design phase to the execution phase, a construction is built within a construction site that is a fundamental element of the experience itself, was created. In this case, the construction site is not intended only as a place of construction but as an opportunity in which the complexity of a work is perceived by noting how much what has been imagined really corresponds to reality. Theory must therefore be accompanied by practice, since if a student is given responsibility, he or she becomes an integral part of what is being built and of the project. Designing something in a given place and then building it also allows for the consolidation of “points in the place” that are part of the training experience of designing, understanding and realizing. Training also, according to Tresoldi, should not stop at designers but should concern all stakeholders in the cultural sphere. «In artistic training, the practical approach to the works and experiencing their realization at 360° is also fundamental. For this reason, the goal of TRAC is also to make young people experience all the phases of the installation. The fact that they themselves realize a work from design to production also means letting them deal with all the related needs: from business trips to finding construction services». Another goal of TRAC - Tresoldi Academy is that of a return to the rituality of the past, to the secular sacredness of certain moments lived on site linked to the love of things that, even today, are considered a foundation of both making art and making architecture. According to Tresoldi, a perfect example of training in the field concerns festivals as events capable of creating temporary dimensions and, at the same time, of putting into action an experimentation of a futuristic project. In fact, before building a permanent work, the festival allows to have an effect on the temporary not only in terms of structure but also at the level of imaginable society: «When for a week several people inhabit a place, that place becomes a city. From this point of view, festivals are a very formative experience where practice manages to have – compared to theory – a gap that is the dirt of humanity».
The last topic discussed is WHAT’S NEXT, Tresoldi’s future projects. As he himself announced, another project to which he is dedicating himself is STUDIO STUDIO STUDIO. His team is in fact formed, to this day, by different departments – from design to management to communication – that have been formed through the realization of his artistic projects. The idea is to enlarge this structure to the works of other authors so that they can develop and realize large-scale projects in order to enter the world of public works.