Effimero: or the Postmodern Italian Condition is a research project by architect and historian Léa-Catherine Szacka (with U67 for exhibition design and art direction, Valérie Paquette for graphic design and photography and Julien Sage-Thomas for multimedia design) on display at the 14th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, as a part of the “Monditalia” exhibition.
Between the late 1970s and the end of the 1980s, Italy experienced a proliferation of events using ephemeral structures as a response to the socio-political turmoil of the previous decade known as the anni di piombo (Years of Lead). The utopian spaces of theatre, the performing arts and other forms of entertainment became catalysts for the collective imagination that, coupled with the rediscovery of an interest in the Baroque, ushered in new ideas of spectacle. Historical city centres became playgrounds for all, e"acing boundaries between high and low culture. The involvement of the public mixed cultural categories through do-it-yourself and collage, typical of postmodernity, and contributed to a reversal of values from a heavily ideological climate to one of hedonism and depolitisation.
Effimero: or the Italian Postmodern Condition explores this era of Italy’s recent past. It is both an ar-chive of original drawings, photos and press cuttings of the structures that sustained these specta-cles, and a sensitive and interpretative installation recalling an important moment in the Italian cul-tural scene. The display is framed by the first manifestations of the Estate Romana, organised by Re-nato Nicolini at the Basilica di Massenzio in 1977, and the unconventional and controversial floating stage built for Pink Floyd’s concert in Venice in 1989. It then narrates and contextualises a series of ephemeral experiences: Gae Aulenti’s scenography for the Laboratorio di Progettazione Teatrale di Prato; Franco Purini’s 1979 constructions for Parco Centrale in Rome; and Aldo Rossi’s temporary entrance for the Arsenale at the 1980 Venice Architecture Biennale. Following Jack Lang’s 1981 visit to the Estate Romana, Italy’s ‘ephemeral season’ influenced and prompted similar experiences across Europe and the world.