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X.1.7.4



The Spiritual Work

The Programme


Via Andrea Ponti 1, 20143 Milano Italy, tel. +39.02.8910251 Fax +39.02.89125825, E-mail: arcadelduomo@gmail.com


The Seminar is comprised of four topics, each one discussed in a series of three lectures.

THE REFOUNDING OF THE CITY

A point of impetus towards reconsidering our cities beyond their current degradation, to rediscover founding values and establish a vision for the future.

1
For a refoundation of the city: from the past to the future

Lecture by Vittorio Mazzucconi

The path from the past to the future must be focused within the present, because we are not investigating the cities of the past but our duty to refound ours today! The degradation and explosive complexity of the modern city are clear for all to see, especially if we turn our attention to the big metropolises. If we focus on the way they have been run, we are immediately aware, not only of their inadequacy, but of the total lack of an approach to be based on man, so as to fulfill not only his real needs but also his soul.
In order to refound the city, the first step must be to regain the harmony between “reason and sentiment”, which is natural to human nature but also, under different forms, to the founding of the city, which has been lost within a most dramatic disunion.
The goal is therefore to reconnect with and integrate rationality with that other fundamental reality, what we may call: heart, or feeling, or simply humanity. We could also name it nature, something that man feels that he belongs to, as we are nature ourselves, and not only its exploiter and destroyer… Our ancestors used to scan the sky before founding a city, with the aim of returning to a guide and an auspice: in the very same way, our labour as new founders must be inspired by spiritual values. It’s an inner guidance that has to be rediscovered, relevant not only to the city but also to man.

As an outline of the true meaning of such “refoundation”, Vittorio Mazzucconi introduces his architectural and city-planning projects, which are to guide us all through the Seminar, as both witnesses and characters of a great narration.

complete italien text, including links to the artworks

The City in the Image and Resemblance of Man
Aix-Etoile
Les Halles
La zone du Canal
The New Agora
The Dawning City
The Palatine Pyramid
The Cathedral Arc

Architectural Catalogue


2
The Contemporary Metropolis

Lecture by Agostino Petrillo, in dialogue with Vittorio Mazzucconi

Agostino Petrillo explains how the concept of the metropolis has evolved today into the megalopolis idea, i.e. to an undifferentiated reality bringing huge problems along with it, without any shared opinion about how to be defined and managed. All this considered, Vittorio Mazzucconi maintains that we should no longer conceive of enormous cities and resort to confederations of smaller cities instead, paying particular attention to each one’s actual identity. Then he takes the example of Milan, an area comprised of numerous small towns which will shortly roll into an undifferentiated metropolis as a result of the lack of a far-seeing plan.
The conception of identity is crucial on both the local and multi-cultural, global level. It is mandatory to anchor it to the remnants of the past, even if the past is no longer apparent. Can we suppose that it can be worked out and planned? Referring to the past is in fact a requirement of the human psyche, which recognizes and produces it within itself, as we can see in Mazzucconi’s projects.

complete italien text, including links to the artworks

Av. Matignon
Aix-Etoile

Architectural Catalogue


3
The City in the Image and Resemblance of Man

Lecture by Vittorio Mazzucconi

This lecture refers to the book entiled The City in the Image and Resemblance of Man ( Hoepli 1967) written by Vittorio Mazzuconi himself

The work is comprised of two parts:
- A first section investigating the city from several approaches, such as history, art, sociology, city-planning, implementing a vision which embraces philosophy and poetry for the city at the same time. It points the way to how the city should be in its essence, even in a future time, be it the Day After or any other day signing the spiritual renewal of mankind.
- The second part focuses on Milan: the very same idea that had inspired an ideal city is applied to an actual city. How can this transformation be accomplished? By recovering the thread that since the origin of our city in an ancient time has led to the current development in time and space, remaining true to its deepest identity, planning the future with a fearless heart…from a poetic dream to the plan for a new metropolis that faces and solves problems.

In either case, an impulse contrasting with the one involved with current city-planning is taking place. It pursues the aim of recovering from the hiatus within the soul of the man, which is at the origin of the crisis of the contemporary world. At the end of the lecture, the Cathedral Ark is also being discussed as the symbol of a prospective rebirth of Milan.

 

complete italien text, including links to the artworks

The City in the Image and Resemblance of Man
The Cathedral Ark

Architectural Catalogue


ARCHITECTURE FOR MAN

On behalf of houses and cities in the image of Man and not the evil forces of money, power, ideology or technology for technology’s sake..

In a three-lecture series, Vittorio Mazzucconi shares his way of conceiving this being “in the image of man,” which has already been introduced in his vision for the city: on the one hand, referring to the primary need for an inner renewal and on the other, presenting his projects...

4
From the Classical to the Contemporary Age: the Sense of Architecture

In a period when Milan is crowded with people visiting the Salone Internazionale del Mobile (International Furniture Exhibition), we can’t help being exposed to endless speeches about designers ’creativity. A creativity that, in modern times, is now confined to pieces of furniture and functional objects, instead of shaping the beautiful cities we have inherited from the past, with their cathedrals, superb monuments, and also their houses and less important pieces of art which are nevertheless full of dignity and beauty.
We may wonder where all the relevant qualities have disappeared to in our current time. When the principles of beauty and harmony are only put to the service of chairs, upholstered furniture and temporary installations…we may wonder what sense remains in architecture, as its aesthetic purpose has apparently been lost, or at least dramatically changed. We will therefore not talk about design but of true architecture and focus not on the ephemeral but on perennial values.
We’ll firstly pay homage to classical architecture, which, thanks to its temples, achieved a marvelous balance between technique and divine force; later on, its forms were put to the service of Roman power and then to the political and financial powers of the entire world. Then we shall also focus over Gothic architecture as it also achieved an effective union between technique and religious longing.
But what is happening today, when all transcendence is lost?
It is apparent that we’re no longer building temples or cathedrals in our times, focused only on private and public construction projects requested by the social and cultural environment of the contemporary age. Though we can also recognize that an extraordinary interest in producing furniture and functional objects may be considered as a compensation for the disaffection for spiritual values, as is happening in Italy today, there remains something even more crucial to consider.
We’ve lost our devotion to temples not only because we are no longer religious and are involved with more utilitarian forms of architecture, but also because we have lost touch with the union between heart and mind, nature and civilization, a union which used to be in agreement with the divine and thus create harmony, as the divine is harmony itself.
How can we get back to it? How can we nurture a fruitful relationship between human and divine, earth and sky? How can we reach our inner centre again?

complete italien text, including links to the artworks

Av. Matignon
The New Agora
The Dawning City
The Palatine Pyramid

Architecture catalogue


5
From Rationalism to Technology and Beyond

An overall view of architecture in our times

Previously, we mentioned the Milan Furniture Fair as a show in which creativity is spent in a very dispersive way, far from its proper destination of true architectural projects. That same week heralded the announcement of the huge new buildings planned for Milan. We may wonder if this is the real architecture, the real creativity we have been longing for. Are these truly the great works of a mature society?
Without being trapped by contingency, the lecture series gives a succinct overview of the development of modern and contemporary architecture. It started with the ideas of rationalism, which refused the previous architectural forms, driven by a rigid thinking and the will to associate buildings with machines. This new era excited great and rather naive enthusiasm in many people, with several applications – suffice it to mention futurism – but everybody is now aware of the results and the technological fever that followed since then, possibly leading to a global collapse in this very time.
Rationalism has thus proved to be nothing but a part of the materialism and scientific orientation of our modern times, responsible for the schism in the duality inherent to the founding of both man and cities. In such a duality, the “heart” of a city can be regarded as its roots, its historical, cultural and architectural continuity, carried out by its inhabitants (not with buildings approved “from above” such as the crooked skyscrapers in the new project in Milan…).
While the “mind” of a city would be a plan imbued with wisdom and not just a sociological and territorial survey, nor the mere expression of abstract reason or political, economic interests, avant-garde technology and ambition….
We do not want to underestimate the prospective architectural plans for Milan, but they do not seem to be based on a doctrine nor on any founding roots or spiritual intention, which are, instead, completely lacking.

 

complete italien text, including links to the artworks

The new skyscrapers in Milan
The Cathedral Ark
L'Arche des Neiges
Le Arche 1
Le Arche 2

Architecture catalogue


6
A Poetry for Architecture

It may be objected that our dealing with mind, roots and spirit could be more linked with poetry than with the actual city and relevant architectural plans. Does poetry have anything in common with the real city? Can poetry help us understand the city, or even affect it?
What were the properties leading to the beauty of the ancient city which we can no longer find today?
Religious involvement, historical continuity, important political figures devoted to properly interpreting the city, a spirit of the times expressed as a longing for eternity…all come into play. Comparing this to the short period of our economic investments, electioneering, chasing after superficial values, power, business, ambitions… In this new model of a city we are busy destroying everything, ruled by contingent self-interest rather than by the will to build for future generations and we no longer think of monuments celebrating a human or divine ideal but of money, power, and success.
Nevertheless, we shouldn’t turn aside the newest plans of many architects and their fascination with technology. These are the forerunners of future indeed, but we wish our future would also reconsider a sensible balance between avant-garde projects, often conceived for their own sake, and the genuine art of building houses and cities for human beings, combined with the virtue of humility and good sense rather than architectural ambitions.


complete italien text, including links to the artworks

The City in the Image and Resemblance of Man
The Dawning City
The Cathedral Ark

A poetm for the City
Architecture catalogue

 

ART AS AN INNER QUEST

To rediscover the deep meaning of art as an expression of our soul beyond the ephemeral outcome of contemporary art

7
The Spiritual in Art (from ancient to modern times)

Lecture by Vittorio Mazzucconi

The schism between mind and heart discussed with reference to the city and architecture is even more dramatic in the arts, particularly in the visual arts.
The definition of “heart” in this context includes everything we have previously mentioned, with the addition of unconsciousness, feelings, nature and earth within us, and of our female part.
By “mind” we intend a light, an enlightened understanding, which contrasts with what we most frequently find in us , that is to say a cold rationality has become a rigid expression of various cultural forms.
The relationship between those component elements of man recalls the relationship between male and female, which originates both life and art. There’s no chance for art to be expressed as a living organism if this latter union is not allowed, as it happens with any natural birth. But when we seek at least a trace of this creature’s soul within most contemporary artworks, we find nothing. Art in our age is the unfortunate child of a society and a culture that refuse to contemplate the soul. It is therefore an art without soul, as soulless as any other luxury commodity.
Great, true art has always evoked the sacred, even when religious images were not apparent. The sacred lies at the foundation of this mystery of creation, where two opposites collide and originate a child, which is actually not their fruit but the work of the Spirit incarnating through it.
Do we want to turn away from this mystery? Doing so, we’d produce mere intellectual inventions instead of fruitful thinking, machines instead of living creatures, toys, fashion, design, business and anything relevant to a world going adrift, instead of true art, as sacred in its principle as life is.
What would the “art as inner quest” we’re aiming at be like instead?
Such art should get back to deep roots of human feelings and transform them into truly creative action. Through this, it would be able to welcome, express and incarnate the Spirit, thus going along with the very path of man, and, indeed, of all creation, from matter to spirit.

complete italien text, including links to the artworks

Paintings catalogue
Art and Psyche
Architecture catalogue


8
From Futurism to Contemporary Art

Lecture by Giorgio Seveso, in dialogue with Vittorio Mazzucconi

Giorgio Seveso opens by underlining a different idea about art. “We belong to two worlds apart, to two different sides…Mazzucconi strives for the quest of a spiritual guidance, for the sense of being with and in the world; on the contrary, I strongly believe that man is the result of very practical, pragmatic or technical reasons…I’m agnostic, a Marxist”.
The dispute of these two positions causes sparks to fly. With reference to Futurism and what has since come along in contemporary art, Mazzucconi points out that Futurism has introduced the myths of speed, violence, and tecnhique, which have then led not only to totalitarian regimes but to the failure of the frenetic society in which we’re living today.
“ Talking about Futurism, I am also very impressed by its very name, which I usually compare to another word:
contemporary. When Futurism originated, people were confident about the future, yet in a utopian and tragically foreboding accent: on the contrary, we cannot find an outlet for spiritual faith anywhere, as we are all fixated on this idea of the contemporary as the one and only value, which levels everything to the present time.”
Seveso explains an alternative interpretation of the contemporary art under the statement that “ the dimension of art and relevant institutions has now been reduced to a bunch of styles and visual languages which art has to match in order to be worthy of the contemporary label, or even to be still named art. To better explain, this concept of the contemporary has become a sort of mannerism and has to be strongly discouraged, because contemporary is an adjective that should be suitable to all that happens, for the good and the bad, in its contradictions and positive features”.
The dispute over contemporaneousness gets heated, but Mazzucconi concludes by saying that, far beyond this, “we have to turn our attention to the perennial”. The truth of the soul is timeless. Art can’t just rely on historical or cultural information, nor on social militancy: art has to answer to the urgency of a spiritual renovation…

 

complete italien text, including links to the artworks

Paintings catalogue
Art and Psyche
The Cathedral Ark
Crucifixion 1991
Dawn 1992

Architecture catalogue


9
Art as an Inner Quest

Lecture by Andrea Del Guercio, in dialogue with Vittorio Mazzucconi

If every man has to accomplish an inner quest towards growth and consciousness in life, this latter must also be achieved within the corpus of works produced by an artist, who, without being tempted by fashion and superficial urges, strives to recovery the relationship with the soul and thus truly express it.
Such inner art would therefore be bound to spirituality, to sacred values even though it is not necessarily sacred art: of course, it would be wonderful to match both features, but we are unfortunately living in times of severe separation which hamper this.
Del Guercio presents his experience as an art critic involved with sacred art, especially art produced by young artists (as shown in his book “Contemporary Christian art”) and introduces the idea that a work of art is provided with an “inner life” of its own which undergoes several identifications according to the times and places it is going to cross after leaving the artist’s studio. Location is especially influential in interpreting the artwork as a sacred piece, for example whether or not it is placed in a sacred place. “The crypt makes the difference”.

Mazzuconi replies that the inner quest is relevant to the man, to the artist and not to the work. The leading factor is not the story of the artwork and its interpretations in time, but “ the deep and painful process through which man becomes fully aware of the Self, evolving from impulses, feelings or mental processes to an enlightened vision that makes him ascend and approach a spiritual life”.
Again, when referring to the significance of location, Mazzucconi states that “place is mainly, in fact, only, an inner matter. The sacred place is the place where our heart is, so it is not something outside us, but instead, the inner quest I have spoken about, aiming at our own inner place, that we have to build, find and invent in the primary Latin meaning of invenire: this is my work, my intention, as the constant will be to become a sacred temple and try to accomplish with this in every occasion of our life”.
The lecture then goes back to the debate about contemporary art of the previous lecture and Del Guercio proposes a suitable definition: contemporary "not in the temporal meaning but as something that suddenly gets in touch with the urgency of its times ".
In reply to Del Guercio quoting Luzi about Santa Maria del Fiore, Mazzucconi mentions his project for the centre of Florence, The Dawning City, in which there is a significant building, the Flower expressed as an opening symbol: " I’d rather say it’s the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore that opens up and blooms at last, in the very reverse shape of its usual existence as a closed bud…this opening is guided by the same drive of any of the plants in my garden, and our soul behaves no differently: whatever the place and regardless of the actual presence of altars or relics, it feels the great need of opening up. I believe in this as the true sense of an inner quest and of any art expressing it”.

 

complete italien text, including links to the artworks

Paintings catalogue
Art and Psyche
The Dawning City

Architecture catalogue

 

THE RENEWAL OF MAN

Lecture by Dario Sacchi, in dialogue with Vittorio Mazzucconi

Working on ourselves is our most important duty in order to bring harmony to the deviancies of reason and the obscure and destructive impulses of our time.

10
Philosophy throughout History

It is impossible to summarize here the erudite and exhaustive lecture by Dario Sacchi, which investigated philosophy from ancient Greece to current trends. But we can focus on his final considerations about a contemporary philosophy whose development seems to be moving farther and farther away from our common understanding.
The linguistic bent has diverted our attention from thought to language, while knowledge has become a process of interpretation devoid of any certainty.
Mazzucconi feels the urgency for a renewal of man in order to face the catastrophic evolution of the world, striving to achieve it, thanks to a development in consciousness in ourselves, and in the city. We can benefit from such enlightenment, but philosophy is not likely to support us that much in this respect. To the unlearned, philosophy seems to be wandering in a more and more complicated and self-referring direction which has lost touch with the soul of man. Sacchi then talks about the polis as the place where the balance between freedom and law takes place and where problems from a multiethnic society have arisen of late: we can agree with this vision, but we also need to underline the need for a true interpretation of the city far beyond any ideas about multicultural urban environments. We should also stress that difficult relationships may result not only among people from different ethnic groups, but also within ourselves as politicians, architects, figures with different education, because of the lack of shared knowledge.
Mazzucconi once again brings the attention back to his project "The City in the Image and Resemblance of Man”, this time being issued as a philosophical model. In this project, some crucial points are clearly emblematic: the relationship between freedom and law, mind and heart, city and nature, as well as the comprehension of proper growth, the vacuum as the centre of our being, and so on.

complete italien text, including links to the artworks

The City in the Image and Resemblance of Man

Architecture catalogue


11
Reconciling Mind and Heart

Lecture by Vittorio Mazzucconi

In this lecture we draw a conclusion about all we have discussed at the Seminar (the final lecture next week will be devoted to slide projections and relevant discussion).

Despite the Seminar being divided into four groups of lectures devoted to specific topics, the guiding thought is, basically, always the same.
When we discussed the contemporary metropolis, by stating its social, economical problems as well as its state of pollution and alienation, we brought forward the need of a real “Refounding of the City ”, that is to say, of an investigation of all the features involved, to be united and guided within a vision.
This vision can only originate from better understanding the human nature. Not only the city but our very self is in need of refounding, as this last group of lectures’ title properly describes: “ The Renewal of Man”. We find strong evidence of duality in our very self and in the world: between matter and spirit, body and soul, male and female, heart and mind, and between several other pairs. The split between “heart and mind” (between materialistic thinking and soul, civilization and nature) has been a leitmotiv for all the lectures because it is the very source of the crisis we’re in. Yet, to each duality there corresponds an impulse toward re-union: this brings male and female to join and give way to life, matter and spirit to merge in everything, civilization and nature to seek a balance.
During the Seminar we have noticed that the same process takes place in a true work of art, resulting in a real birth.
This integration and the consequent spiritual birth are the sense of the “inner quest” every man and every artist should be called up to, but this is unfortunately unconnected with the art and materialistic drive of our times. If our goal was to reach such a true form of art expressing the soul, attentive to perennial values, art as meditation or a medium to increase awareness, it has not been thoroughly examined.
We’ll have to investigate this in our new prospective Seminar "Art and Psyche". There’s nothing more urgent now than guiding art, and any other discipline, to rediscover the soul.
If we then turn to history, we become aware that a balance among the fundamental faculties of man has been achieved in its most fecund ages. That’s the case of ancient Greece, which originated the sense of classical innate harmony. Through this latter, mankind has possibly created the basics for a further growth towards a higher level. Such a development may be represented by the capital in a classical column, or by the flower in a plant, both images expressing also the realization of the Self in ourselves, that is to say the most important and essential figure that lies within us and asks to be revealed as we bridge the gap inherent in our duality step by step.
Other ethical and political issues follow by this line of meditation. The main theme implies the relation between man and society, and therefore between freedom and law. Freedom is to be somehow linked with the heart, in the very sense of the feeling of freedom, while mind has to be matched with law, which sets the boundaries for freedom.
Our doctrine is always the same: to find a balance between the two forces, in order to build the society and the city of a better world.
As a man can grasp the perception of divine, only after reaching harmony between heart and mind within himself, so can the vision of “The City in the Image and Resemblance of Man” lead to the idea of an inner void, which is heart, philosophical intuition and womb of a human and civil rebirth at the same time. Accordingly, we wish to dedicate this void to the university, because the education of humanity’s future generations should be the main priority of any development.

complete italien text, including links to the artworks

Art and Psyche
The City in the Image and Resemblance of Man

Architecture catalogue


12
The Spiritual Work

As in a theatrical performance, where all the actors are present in the final scene, in the same way, all of my projects will take the stage in this last lecture. We have become accustomed to their images hanging on the wall during the Seminar, but now it’s time for them to be projected, accompanied with new comments and further discussed.
We could debate “The Spiritual Work” again, but as we’re talking about work, it’s time to substitute words with works, indeed!

 

complete italien text, including links to the artworks

The City in the Image and Resemblance of Man
Aix-Etoile
Av. Matignon
Les Halles
L'Arche des Neiges
The new Agora
Spreeinsel
The Ark of the Knowledge
The Dawning City
The Palatyne Pyramid
The Cathedral Ark

Architecture Catalogue