Our Milan team headed over to Fondazione Prada this week to check out the space and visit the latest exhibition, TV 70: Francesco Vezzoli Guarda La Rai.
The visit to one of Milan’s foremost contemporary spaces showed us a feat of architecture, gallery design and artistic prowess. Housed in a former distillery in a somewhat scruffy area beyond the railway tracks, the complex opens up into a central courtyard that includes warehouses, laboratories and brewing silos. Walking through the site one has the sense of the attention that has been paid to architectural details, the level of craft enriched by the careful selection and use of materials. The new buildings are clad in aluminum foam that was originally developed for military applications, which appear as a grey wall from a distance, but reveal a heavily textured metal case upon closer inspection. The former administration block, dubbed by Miuccia Prada as “The Haunted House,” casts a warm shadow over the industrial complex, meticulously covered in 4kg of gold leaf, drain pipes and all. Love has even been lavished on the toilets, which feel as special as the galleries themselves. Perhaps the most unexpected moment of all is the bar designed by director Wes Anderson, conceived as a temple of 1950s Italian café kitsch, but more on that later.
Of the gallery spaces themselves, they make it clear; Prada takes her art very seriously. Walking through the complex is like strolling through a magnificent catalogue of curatorial techniques and display strategies.
Continuing our foray into the 1970s, which began with our time at this year’s Salone Del Mobile, the latest Fondazione Prada exhibit is “a visual experience that explores 1970s TV production” within which the artist sets about investigating this contemporary custom and its roots, shining a spotlight on the moment when TV established itself as a specific medium and the role that Italian Public TV has played as a vehicle to shape social and political change as well as a tool for cultural and identity creation. The layout itself is multi-sensory, presenting contrasts of traditional museum displays against the screening of moving images, all within alternating conditions of light and darkness and a play on spatial dimensions. Items from the Teche Rai archives are presented alongside paintings, sculptures and installations in order to present an analysis of “the relationships between Italian public television and visual arts, politics and entertainment.”
The trip across the railway tracks into a neighbourhood relatively unknown to the OMI team was well worth it and the Fondazione Prada is forever marked in our Milano City Guide as one of our favourite places and spaces.
Photo by: Chiara Redaschi
Text by Harriet Anderson