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Frank Variations

Drawing for the "12 walls" exhibition curated by Paradigma Ariadnè in  Veszprém, Hungary.


What is the contemporary? This work tries to engage such a question. Today’s perception of the present is highly contradictory. A problem which is symptomatic of a crisis: like those who were in front of the Belle Époque’s twilight, we cannot believe in idealistic conceptions of progress, innovation and globalisation anymore; too many contradictions and conflicts loom at the horizon of history. What we know is that the “contemporary” is composed of an heterogenous landscape of different narratives, each coming from different historical circumstances and each carrying different ideological ramifications.

 RE/constructing the past. Using the past as a model for the present.


In architecture’s history, is not uncommon to find a continuity between a model – a precedent – and a new artefact. The precedent has to be analysed, scrutinised, examined and dissected for what it is [Vesta’s temple is a roman temple…] Often, architects draw sketches; they formalise ideas and aesthetics through their studies of models. […Bramante refers to the ancient temple in order to canonise classical architecture…]. Still, what is a model? What is a reference? The model can be the reference to be anachronistically quoted and redrawn; whether philologically or ironically […Palladio interprets Bramante’s temple as an architecture which is as pure as the ancient…]. Nonetheless, a reference can – and must – be reinterpreted, abused, modified, and even destroyed […Sir Christopher Wren abuses Bramante’s temple, transforming it in a giant church…]. To work with the past is not banal anachronism, it has to be parachronism: the transformation of the past while creating a new contemporaneity […what is the real reference? What is an original?]. There is no future without memory. There is no memory without futures. In this sense, this work is a parachronistic attempt of using the past as a form of contemporaneity. This drawing is the result of a remix of two previous works, both drawn by Josef Frank: one of the first modern architects to deal with ornament. Frank’s work is still to be fully discovered: his interiors were colourful and playful spaces, his architectural projects are depicted with delightful watercolours, his city plans are festive representations of heterogeneities and  his tapestry – used here as the starting object for the formal operations - are colourful representation of nature mixed with abstract gestures.


As a result of the remix, a new ornamental original is produced, starting from the estrangement of precedents. Finally, this work is a poetic attempt of engaging a given topic, by proposing a form of contemporaneity - one in which memory is still present - yet altered and playfully estranged in order to allow the formalisation of a novelty.

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