Como, Campo Urbano, 1969

As part of Campo Urbano, a day dedicated to “aesthetic interventions in the collective urban dimension,” a series of events staged by artists like Giuseppe Chiari, Enrico Baj, Bruno Munari, etc. in the Piazza del Duomo, in the historic center of Como, Pettena chose to hang out washing on clothes lines, with the aim of underlining the difference between the appearance of a city and the experience of living in it. Thus the installation set out to make people reflect on other aspects of urban space than the visual ones, “violating” its official image by the insertion of a plebeian element, manifestly alien to the context. By mocking the static character of that context, the clothes lines draped with washing hung out to dry in the city’s main square spoke instead of the city in its becoming, of its daily existence, of the freshness of life and not the death of appearance. The washing reminded us that official places are above all spaces for the display of power, but that the city is also, and perhaps above all, a place of social inequality and exclusion.