Ali Lochhead

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"I think it's madness!" Rosario exclaims when I ask her about the current architectural policy in London. "But that's part of our work, Roberto and I, it's not just about creating things, it's about understanding the world around us, things that don't make sense to us, it's philosophical."

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The duo, who've been lovers and artistic soulmates for over 25 years are currently exhibiting at the ICA studio in London. El Ultimo Grito are the 33rd show in the fig-2 project, which hosts fifty exhibitions in fifty weeks. Their work's inspired by the young, radical thinkers who formed the avant-garde architectural movement in Florence in the late sixties. "I was only born in 1966 but they influenced me," Rosario reflects. "I remember the MoMA exhibition 'Italy: The New Domestic Landscape' it was in 1972 but I studied it at University, it was a pivotal moment in design. These guys saw aesthetics and practice as one, everything they were doing was a physical thesis". She continues, "We liked their work and many of them became friends. At the forefront of the movement, Superstudio had a vision for a futuristic world covered in a super grip and the idea was everyone would receive the same services, like electricity, wherever they were on the planet. Because it was the seventies it was all happy," Rosario explains. "We wouldn't work, the service would provide! Superstudio produced all these collages at the time, they had a graphic quality, these grid images. Then we had a technical glitch on our map one day and this is how it looks:

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this isn't fabricated, this is the way the map's produced and it's just like Superstudio's vision. The Internet's like the super grid covering the planet and we all have access to the same service - information - wherever we are, provided our technological and political systems allow it - but, I mean in theory. It's just like the vision yet the guys could never have imagined the internet 50 years ago. And now the maps are becoming historical documents, documenting how quickly cities are changing. We look at a map and we think it's real time but sometimes we look up and there's a building that's not there. In London the urban landscape is changing so quickly, there's a real rushed quality about it, a madness, and a lack of a sense of planning. They're pulling down estates, as social projects which didn't work and replacing them with new builds, which aren't better, they just look more gentrified. Everything's open plan but then you have a smaller house because when you have open plan living you don't need a kitchen - and you're part of this rush. So we wanted to make something that speaks about how the buildings are built. It's difficult to create when you're using tools which tell you how to work, so with a hammer for instance you know you have to hammer with it. We wanted a radically different method, so we changed the system and created a system that changed the preconceived way in which you make things. We started using cardboard, packing materials, tape, so it's a physical process, you're creating with your whole body. Shapes are more organic, there's freedom to explore.

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We challenged the methodology of creating objects, we designed a sticker, which is hand crafted but then there's an industrial aspect in how it's manufactured and applied, as we can work with thousands of them. The sticker's like a fractal - it's one unit but when you multiply it creates a different entity.

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And it's just like the way buildings are being put up today, we start with a structure and when we apply the stickers it's like cladding - the stickers have the same character, you start cladding and you very quickly have an impression of the building. When you are physically creating in this way you get a deeper level of understanding; it's different to developing ideas on a purely intellectual level, it gives you another dimension to understanding the world around you, you materialise the things you see - it's not just intellectual. It's selfish of Roberto and I in a way as we're exploring things we don't understand but then lots of people share the same anxieties as us and you can push to a certain place, you can open up other possibilities."

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"Do you want to change the way we're designing and constructing our buildings then?" I ask.
"Well, we're not architects or planners but yes, inspire architectural debate."

Inverting the traditional model Rosario Hurtado and Roberto Feo opened the exhibition on Monday with a mostly empty space at the ICA Studio in London and are constucting their landscape throughout the week, to culminate in the close on Sunday.

Creating and living together produces an intensity. "There's nowhere to hide," Rosario laughs, "You can't say I'm off to work. When it's great it's really great. And when there's a fight there's a big mess everywhere!"
"But obviously it works for you," I observe.
Rosario smiles, "I don't know any other way".

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fig-2 33/50 El Ultimo Grito is free to see at the ICA Studio, The Mall, London until Sunday 23rd August.

Rosario Hurtado was in conversation with Ali Lochhead.♥

Links:
El Ultimo Grito
fig-2
Italy: The New Domestic Landscape
Superstudio Background
Superstudio Documentary