Fax to Barbara Radice

(In "Terrazzo" n. 5, 1990)


My patient Barbara,                         

Back to our subject. Of all the people of the Architettura Radicale period who I think have been properly treated and not well enough analyzed, Gianni Pettena stands out as the most interesting figure. There he was making architecture in the form of gestures. He would refer to magnificent architectural domains of the mind by means of negative spaces that he created. For him, also, the architectural image could not be made without sinning. Different from the others his means were not words but drapes which the wind would move, blocks of ice which the sun would melt, or totally incongruous photos. One of his creations, I recall vividly, was the photo of a large billboard in Minneapolis depicting a policeman looking like a child-molester who, in reality, was desperately trying to revive a boy by mouth-to-mouth resuscitation under a big legend, "And they call him pigs". I also recall his drawings, suggestive of intermissions, dislocations and breakage points where long established ceremonies were to be slightly offset from their normal bearings so that one could see that they contained in themselves an ironic key to remake themselves anew. I haven't seen him for a long time and I would like to see him again. Tell me, has he also become an academic boss?


Respectfully yours,