Suburbs of the World
30 x 40 x 50
The project “30 x 40 x 50 SUBURBS OF THE WORLD” was conceived by prof. Ferdinando Zanzottera of the Politecnico di Milano as an occasion for reflection on the theme of the contemporary city and the urban periphery.
A moment of international and multidisciplinary comparison, the project aims to support the academic debate with photographic exhibitions and exhibitions related to visual art, well aware that today, even more than in past centuries, the image is not an inert object for disinterested contemplation, but it is a living body which, as Pinotti and Somaini assert, has become “an energetic entity that attracts or rejects us, enchants or hurts us”. Afflicted, therefore, by numerous contradictions and by serious and heterogeneous problems, the periphery is often hit by a surplus of penalization that derives from prejudices and scarce historical, sociological and architectural knowledge, and that build barriers of incommunicability between the different subjects of society which in different ways move and live within it or on its edge.
The project, immediately welcomed by other professors and researchers working in different continents, does not intend to be an accomplished and conclusive study of the city, an element which, given the vastness of the theme, would be silly even to think, but as a research in progress, that aggregate around itself new energies able to create, in turn, unprecedented autonomous projects.
The debate around the central subject and the theme of urban fragility, also intends to foster a broad reflection, able to promote photography as a means of knowledge and critical analysis of the urbanized and urbanized space, which is able to enhance the work and the research carried out by students who gravitate around the faculties of architecture and engineering, recovering and communicating the freshness of language and narrative enthusiasm.
“30 x 40 x 50 SUBURBS OF THE WORLD” arises therefore from the desire to dialogue in a simple way on particularly complex issues, comparing very different environments, societies and stories and investigating the concept of suburbs in different nations around the world. For this reason, the first stage of this long journey, which has declared its ambition to create numerous exhibitions in the coming years, took place in the metropolis of Belo Horizonte (Brazil). Figurative reflection that has been entirely dedicated to the Brazilian city by specifying the format of the project which includes 50 photographic exposures of images measuring 30 x 40 cm, from which part of the name, which is enriched with new images and texts historical-critical on the outskirts of the place hosting the exhibition, while maintaining the number of 50 photographs that make up the iconographic section. In this way, the first exhibition was the occasion for a monographic reflection on a single city, while the last one will constitute a complex figurative narrative on 50 peripheries of the world, each one synthetically told by a single photograph.
Equipped with an international scientific committee currently composed of professors from the Milan Polytechnic, the Federal de Minas Gerais University of Belo Horizonte (Brazil) and the Université Catholique de Louvain (Belgium), the project has already led to the realization of exhibitions and volumes, which dealt with large international cities and smaller urban centers, also affected by the construction of workers’ neighborhoods, sometimes designed as small industrial “ideal cities”.
Next steps will be Tournai (Belgium), Milan and other Italian and American cities, in which we hope to continue to reflect on the periphery as a resource, urban and social, and not just as a place of conflict and sometimes degradation.