Musica: Moby, Inside / Poesie: Mariangela Gualtieri / Sculture: Mimmo Paladino


Creating gardens: what a garden is, what its identity is? What is expected, what are we looking for in a garden? Often with the clients we establishe a deep relationship because the garden is an intimate place, a place of the soul, a place where projections and requests finally go beyond the pure functionality of living. And the history of the garden itself shows us the way to face a project. From the first iconographic documents the plant world has always been represented as a metaphor of life, often represented in the male-female opposition, always connected to the idea of mother’s womb. The Greeks suggested this idea of fertility by calling the garden Kepos, a circular enclosure, Great Mother1a place where the creative force of life is freed. Nature that lives, pulsates and grows, fertilizes all aspects of life, even existential ones, and that is why the oldest populations always assigned great spiritual forces to the natural sites, making the garden become, in the course of history, one of the more capable and extraordinary containers of symbolic forms.  

Humanity in itself was born in a garden. Regarding plants there were prodigious myths: first of all that of the cosmic tree, pivot and axis of the universe that, crossing the three worlds, put in communication abysses, earth and sky. Before agricultural uses, the first modeling on Nature occurred precisely to respond to the deepest inner questions related to the meaning of life and man's destiny in the universe: from the first caves, “uterus of the earth”2 to the enormous Neolithic megaliths facing to the sky, from the extraordinary ritual itineraries of the Nazca geoglyphs to the Sumerian ziggurats, man has entrusted to natural morphology symbolic and sacred values, privileging the open, natural space, as a place where the soul projects itself. The natural image becomes a symbolic image. Abstractions therefore, from pyramids to Fuksas “Cloud”, of a tension upwards, an eternal search for a relationship with temporal and spatial infinity. Time indeed, so naturally perceptible in cycles and biological vital rhythms, is the reason why natural places, gardens, are not conceivable if not in continuous transformation; it is thus that in the symbolic tradition linked to Nature, ancient and modern, references to the idea of fertility have always connected the garden to the concept of a vital projection, memory and dream, sowing, growth and harvest. It is “nature that becomes thought”3. Nature is therefore historical and cultural and has always existed only in a continuous link between memory and projection, in a dynamic and evolutionary process of recognition, identification and projection, through overlapping models of memory. Memory of physical places but also memory of those places that we can not see, unconscious or unreal landscapes, tensions and aspirations, as we have seen for the ancients, inserted in a stream of metaphors and references. It is in this network of symbolic and historical connections that the place can produce that it gives meaning to its nature. More than nature, I would therefore speak of forms of life.  As Alain Roger says4 "why all this verdolatria? Who has established that the landscape should be a kind of giant lettuce? The green space is not a place, (...) no more history, no more culture (...) atopic, acrimonious, anartistic (...) is a vegetable nothingness consecrated to the purification of air and physical exercise? ". It is obvious how much importance must be recognized and how much effort should be made in preserving the ecological and environmental values of a place, but these do not exhaust its meaning and unfortunately today this concept is not clear. I agree with the author meanings of landscape: a cultural invention, which can never be reduced only to physical dimension but, to become what it turns out to be in the life and in the eyes of men, it always needs a metamorphosis, mediated essentially by the reality of Art.

So what does it mean today "designing the landscape"? Are there boundaries between landscape, park and garden or are they simply open spaces in our urban context? It is necessary an extension of the concept of landscape, one of the the least decipherable and most complex product of our society: real, social, interior, reflected, thought, dreamed the landscape is a cultural image, an invention that represents, structures and symbolizes what we look around us. It is therefore especially desirable an education of the eye5 that often, sclerotized in concentrating itself only on recognized models, prevents us from seeing. The space is made up of identity and image, physical reality and representation, cultural stratification and meta-physical construction in a complex and continuous relationship between memory and innovation. Designing the landscape therefore means exploring all the possible spaces, physical, material but also virtual, soundscapes, luminous, photographic or pictorial overcoming disciplinary specificities, oscillating between the profession of architect, gardener, artist, working with elusive elements like light and shadow, water and perfume, the movement given by wind and time, in an infinite evolution.  The project must then respond the whole frame of this expectation. 

M. Venturi Ferriolo, Nel grembo della vita, Guerini e ass. 1989
F. Panzini, Progettare la natura, Zanichelli 2005
R. Assunto , Ontologia e teleologia del giardino, Guerini e Ass., 1988
In Lotus Navigator n. 5, maggio 2002
In Francia a Mouans-Sartoux è nato l’Espace de l’Art concret il cui progetto artistico e culturale è dedicato all’Education du Regard.          

Marta Fegiz

Marta Fegiz via San Francesco di Sales 12a, 00165 Rome, Italy - Phone +39 06 87911618
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