Not a cemetery but rather a Garden of Memory: this is a posthumanous concept imagined by French artists Anne and Patrick Poirier and designed by the Milanese architect Luca Cipelletti for the town of Gorgonzola, in the province of Milan. A project born from the idea of rethinking the traditional cemetery – generally developed around the “cold” geometric shape of the rectangle – will re-launch the concept as a contemporary necropolis. No longer a place of cold and sterile death, but a garden where you can immerse yourself in the memory of your loved ones letting yourself be lulled by memories. To visually explain the project is the exhibition Architectures des Mémoires (until 22 April) organized by the AR.CH.IT studio of Luca Cipelletti on the occasion of Miart and the Milan Design Week in collaboration with Galleria Fumagalli: a retrospective dedicated to the two French artists that consists of 28 works and which culminates with the model of the Garden. The concept of memory – central to the work of the spouses Poirier – traces the works on display in a path that analyzes the relationship between man and his past. Luca Cipelletti tells us about this, and we asked him some questions about the choice of collaborating with the two artists in the realisation of a great utopia. The exhibition is accompanied by the “non-collection” collection of XYZ made-to-measure reading plans, which is launched just in time for this occasion.
Let’s start with a fundamental question: when did your interest in art come about? Everything started with Polytechnics: I became passionate about art and I started working on museography projects (among the most important ones, the Museum of Shit in the province of Piacenza and the expansion of the Museum of Science and Technology of Milan with the recovery of the former Cavallerizze). Helping to further stimulate my curiosity was Massimo Valsecchi: he introduced me to the dialogue between art and architecture. From then on I started to compare myself with some artists and we subsequently developed works in collaboration. Last year we renovated this space built in the 50s and it was natural to ask: why don’t we also exhibit works of art? But the question was something else: what exactly should be on display? I’m not a gallery owner and I do not like to call myself that, I prefer to consider myself a “facilitator”, interweaving of art and architecture. The architecture studio generally intrigues artists, because it encourages them to deal with functionality.
What was the first exhibit you showed in your studio? David Tremlett, with whom we have done a lot of projects together. I like every show to leave a mark in the studio, so I kept one of his works: it goes to create a stratification and a dialogue with the following exhibitions. This second exhibition stars Anne and Patrick Poirier: from the ’70s they work on the theme of intersections between memory and architecture. We focused on their Archtecture du Mémoires: a journey through time and space that brings together man’s fragility with memory. For them, it is only through this encounter that we can face the present and the future. It is in our memory that we can find a way to move forward.
What corpus of works have you chosen to show off? Anne defines herself as an artist-architect, Patrick an archaeologist. Their work starts in the ’70s by an analysis of the cradle of civilization, Mesopotamia. Through photographs and mappings, the works on display highlight the looming industrial city and the threat of war destruction on the archeology of this area, which is a symbol of memory for them. The body of the works consists of monochromes on canvas in which the original structure of the city emerges, while a unidirectional wind seems to want to destroy it. Among the works in white, one stands out in black to underline the mourning of destruction and the cancellation of memory. These places represent Aleppo, Palmira, cities that are at the center of the latest current events. In addition to monochromes,
A theme that finds its complete celebration in the Garden of Memory … Exactly. The project stems from a thought: for centuries we have been building cold and rectangular cemeteries, which in a certain sense intensify suffering and pain. So why not bring the concept of necropolis back to life but reread it in a contemporary way?
While trying to answer this question, Anne and Patrick thought of a plan inspired by the oak leaf, a theme that occurs in various religions and symbolises the exchange between Heaven and Earth. The idea is to enter a real garden where the avenues represent the ribs of the leaf and where the entrance is composed of a structure that is inspired by the shape of an upside down boat (another recurring theme in various religions). The avenues will have the names of the constellations of the Milky Way and the multipurpose chapel will house the dead of any religious confession. I am particularly proud to present this original maquette that will look very much like the final structure of the Garden. The project was heavily revised after the Municipality of Gorgonzola asked us to make it cost half, but we managed to get it started anyway. This is the first project of contemporary necropolis of which I have news: a truly unique work. It would have been a shame not to be able to achieve it: within two years the first wing of the Garden should be ready. The project was heavily revised after the Municipality of Gorgonzola asked us to make it cost half, but we managed to get it started anyway. This is the first project of contemporary necropolis of which I have news: a truly unique work. It would have been a shame not to be able to achieve it: within two years the first wing of the Garden should be ready. The project was heavily revised after the Municipality of Gorgonzola asked us to make it cost half, but we managed to get it started anyway. This is the first project of contemporary necropolis of which I have news: a truly unique work. It would have been a shame not to be able to achieve it: within two years the first wing of the Garden should be ready.