LANDSCAPES OF MEMORY
Oltranto, Castello Aragonese, 1987
In the exhibition The Return of Art. Journey into the Mediterranean Dimension, the theme had been proposed for interpretation by artists, architects and designers in the evocative setting of a place that was already in itself an expression of the cultural wealth that stems from the blend of different civilizations. Pettena created a work with which he responded to the multiple cultural stimuli by eliminating the boundaries between the different disciplines as well as the spatiotemporal limitations implicit in the concept of “Mediterraneanism.” In fact the object is not only extremely “designed” and functional but also made of a typical industrial material, while its contents (cutouts of the mountains of his childhood), metaphor for any possible personal interpretation of the universal theme of the landscape, bestow on it an artistic significance, the charge carried by the values of poetry, of the memory of a space and a time that here also acquire, thanks to the context, the “Mediterranean” dimension, reinforced by the presence of sand and the essential character of the setting. It is a work that, like others of this period, reflects Gianni Pettena’s discovery of a more intimist artistic vein, which could be exploited without shame or remorse outside and beyond the needs of the discipline in which he was trained. While the suitcase/catalogue of the landscapes he discovered in the United States (Already Seen Portable Landscapes, 1973) was essentially a statement on space and architecture, this is more a suitcase of memories that precede architecture and that, perhaps, make it an abstraction.