In the mid 70’s I settled in Venice where I studied urban design and architecture. For a while I lived next to Punta della Dogana in a ground floor flat that used to be a butcher shop. A couple of architects had transformed the place into a living space. The big shop window and the entrance door overlooked the canal. The counter area had become a living-room with an open kitchen, and the back of the shop – elevated by a few steps, was the bedroom. In winter time, every morning the tide would rise and flood the living room until noon. It would then back down and rise the following morning, again. The few pieces of furniture I owned were placed on some bricks to protect them from the water. Access to the city, the neighborhood and my street was often difficult if not impossible. So, during a period of several months, my life – like all other Venetians’ – was regulated by the cycle of tides. To be honest, not so poetic. But for me the beginning of a new adventure.
We all have in mind our own personal, unique, image of the city. An image – quoting Kevin Lynch – that juxtaposes itself to all other people’s images in a sort of synthesis that suggests the form of the city. This synthesis between a very personal image and the public one interests me because it reveals the peculiar points of our urban experience.
The image of the city freezes the traits of these experiences, in an invisible though changing pattern which lays itself over the urban map printed on paper. Light-Water-City is acting as the catalyst of these two patterns.
Water can act as a catalyst, too.
The sea, the river, a canal, a lake and rain and fog or frost, too. And also a fountain, a swimming-pool, a pool of water.
Flood and – by subtraction – drought.
I conceived the Light-Water-City series as a place of confrontation between the dynamics of the city and those of the water. A place in which to highlight their stress points.
Also, I decided I wanted more than a one off project. Therefore I planned to create a series of installations in some of the cities which represent on the one hand different steps of my experience and on the other hand my discoveries. Chicago, Paris, Venice. And also Milan, Berlin, Frankfurt, Gdansk, Osaka and more to come… Each installation is a reflection on the urban environment and the role of water in all its different forms.
In my own experience light is a tool. It unveils and underlines.