Often cinema and architecture find a common denominator in allegory, as an abstract concept is expressed through a concrete image, susceptible to a critical discussion in the interpretation phase. In the David Lynch film Inland Empire, Nikki, the protagonist of the film, superimposes her own identity onto the role of the actress that she plays in the story. The narrative structures of the two lives blur. The more it goes on, the more difficult it becomes to discern where Nikki’s life finishes and Sue’s (the part played) begins. In the film, the cinema studio where Nikki acts realises this interference: early in the story, Sue’s house is an ephemeral edifice built in a balloon frame, but, at a certain point in the narrative that wooden box comes unexpectedly to life. At the window, as in a dream in reverse, the light of the sun rises and reveals that Nikki’s set has become Sue’s real house. Thus Nikki becomes Sue and simulation and reality overlap. This act of superimposition of meanings with the same nucleus of identity throws open perspectives to the perception at first concealed and unimaginable, which come to mutate the original meanings of each of the two lives.
The temporal production presented here attempts a transliteration of this structural idea in Lynch’s film: architecture for Sergio Rossi creates a game of returns between orders of ideal and reality, between interiors and exteriors. Exchanging dialogue, this architecture overlaps the diverse identities of the place: from the outline of the pre-existing 1980s shop, to the urban backdrop of the medieval Church of the Carmine, to the decorative Art Nouveau pieces of the palazzo in the alley nearby. So relationships, as well as happening in space, extend also into time, into dialogue, which is also critical interpretation, with signs already in existence.
Small tables and consoles designed by Antonino Cardillo
The idea of the insertion of a building into another, is above all a recurring theme in the architecture of the past. From the medieval schola cantorum of the Basilica di Santa Maria in Cosmedin in Rome, to the fifteenth century of Leon Battista Alberti, who, in the Tempietto in Florence, simulates a miniature of the Sacred Sepulchre in Jerusalem inside a large room, to the Baroque experiences of the rooms of light and of the theatrical stage set, up to the neoclassical canopies of John Soane which, inspired by the unfinishedness of the Roman ruins, seem to fluctuate in a space made of light.
Suggested by the ephemeral canvases of scenography, this system of construction is set out again here according to an Italian metre mutated from the Milanese rationalism of the nineteenth century. But the rational nature of this enclosure, structurally independent of the existing space, is put into doubt by the contradictions that are determined among the diverse identities of the space: that of the installation and the other, residual and amorphous, that of the existing space made homogeneous by a grey-blue colour, and the urban landscape of Brera, time beaten by the episodic passage of the tramways. Thus the internal space is presented to the observer according to a progressive unveiling of different and partially hidden ambits, which suggests an alternative way to the conventional interior open-space which, as it often offers itself to view from the start, inhibits the imagination.
View of Velasca Tower (1958) designed by BBPR and Milan Cathedral (1386-1932).
Time: 1st - 12nd April 2010
Place: Piazza del Carmine, Milan
Area: 60 square metres
Cost: 40,000 euros
Architect and construction manager: Antonino Cardillo
General contractor: Miriam Romano
Clients: Sergio Rossi (Xavier Rougeaux), Wallpaper* magazine (Suzanne Trocmé)
Construction company: Buzzoni srl, Rovigo
Table lamps: Joe Colombo, Oluce
Thanks to Suzanne Trocmé and Xavier Rougeaux
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Akin to a Cinema Set © Antonino Cardillo