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Stories on deaths, rites, and memories.

In 1972 and 1973, the Italian architectural review "Casabella" publishes "Fundamental Acts", five stories by Superstudio. The group used storyboards, texts and images to mould the trail for five videos approaching as many salient human conditions: Life, Education, Ceremony, Love, Death. The "Life" and "Ceremony" stories were immediately developed in form of video, and the first was even featured in the exhibition "Italy: The New Domestic Landscape" (MoMA, New York, 1972) with the title "Supersurface. An Alternative Model for Life on Earth". The "Education", "Love" and "Death" stories remained on paper instead. Finally, in 2010 on the occasion of the São Paulo Biennial, those last were developed as videos too, using the texts published in the Seventies and a selection of images from the Superstudio Archive.

The story "Death", published on Casabella number 380-81 (1973), is composed by five parts. “Files on funeral rites” is a sequence of texts evoking funeral rituals from ancient or modern times and executed in various countries, ironically described with the language of cooking recipes. "Discourses of time and death (Abbreviated version)” lists sentences taken from religious or philosophical texts alternating description of corps’ dissolution, to show how variously ancient and modern cultures deal with death. The "Death, or: the public image of time and memory" text depicts a detailed architectural scenario, housing the "memory capsules" which are terminals of a huge electronic brain storing memories of the dead. "A didactic example: the new cemetery in Modena" introduces the Superstudio’s project design for the architectural competition for Modena cemetery. Perennial fields, partially paved with crushed marble intersect in mesh, and a prefabricated building characterized the design proposal. The memory of the deads is entrusted to the memory capsules, which collect the remembrances of the deceased and hand them over to successive generations. The capsules are connected each other and form a single large pool of collective reminiscence to which the living persons can draw. "Monumental and universal cemeteries", the last part of the story, still questions the form of an architecture devoted to death; in this research path, however, it comes to the awareness that architectures, such as "clutches of orderly matter", no longer need, and in the end the conclusion is similar to the final sentence of the "Supersurface" film: our only architecture is our life.

The video "Death" has been produced using the two texts "A didactic example: the new cemetery in Modena", “Death, or: the public image of time and memory” and excerpts from "Discourses of time and death (Abbreviated version)".

(Story by Paola Ricco, The Architecture Player)


Architect: Superstudio
Mentioned project: Fundamental Acts (1972-73)
Music: Philip Glass - Music with changing parts; Terry Riley - A rainbow in curved air, Poppy Nogood and the phantom band; Splendeurs & Lumieres de l'Inde - Northern raga (Dadra Tala rhythm), Serenity (Bhairava raga), Morning praise (Bhairavi raga), Early evening raga (Pilu raga)
Texts selection, images & direction: Gian Piero Frassinelli (Archivio Superstudio)
Voiceover: Simona Arrighi, Riccardo Naldini
Sound: Benedict Frassinelli
Video production: Interaction Design Lab
Video editing: Alessandro Contini
Copyright: Archivio Superstudio, Fundação Bienal De São Paulo

Italy 2010
Duration: 17'02"