Ugo La Pietra

Recupero e reinvenzione, 1969-1975

While conducting research on a project involving neighborhood libraries, Ugo La Pietra began noticing “spontaneous” creations produced by the inhabitants of the Milanese periphery. Breaking with their previous usage, the objects had been salvaged and repurposed by “do-it-yourselfers”, becoming the raw material for their new makeshift constructions. According to the artist, this is the reappropriation of urban spaces, revealing the irrepressible human desire to possess, create and invent. Like so many cracks in the authoritarian system of the city, similar to alternative systems of communication and “preferential itineraries,” these are well-trodden pathways created by inhabitants, which he contrasts with the roadways resulting from urban planning. From 1969 to 1975, La Pietra meticulously photographed and filmed the city, making a quasi ethnographic recording of these traces of rupture that he calls “degrees of liberty”, as witnessed in his film Riappropriazione della Città, edited in 1977. The photographs, from big close-ups to panoramic shots, from the object to the site, are integrated in photomontages, sometimes under the slogan “do it yourself,” in which the juxtaposition of elements (photographs, notes, diagrams, etc.) brings into focus significant relationships. Some of the compositions illustrate the genesis of the objects, from the urban system for which they were designed to the new configuration to which they have been assigned. The public waste dump plays a key role along this path, acting as the place of the “discovery,” reinterpretation and metamorphosis of the objects.

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