Matteo Mottin and Isa Melsheimer


Quartz Studio inaugurated Examination of the origins, the first solo show in Italy by the German artist Isa Melsheimer (Neuss, Germany, 1968). For the exhibition, the artist made a site-specific installation inspired by XX century Italian architecture.

Matteo Mottin: The exhibition is called “Examination of the origins”. To which origins are you referring to?

Isa Melsheimer: In a certain way, I think the origin was the future already. I saw the buildings now, and I kinda went back to a futuristic time. Everybody say “they look very futuristic”, but if you really look at what Futurismo is, it has nothing to do with what they look like. I did research on what Futurismo was intended by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, who wrote its manifest. I also discovered that Futurists never built anything. That was my starting point. Then I saw Mastroianni’s House built by Venturelli, and I thought it looked extremely modern, and it was built not so late after the war. I started research what happened in Italy, Scuola Romana from 1930 by Piacentini and so on, and if you compare that to what happened in Germany after the war you realize that there’s been a cut, for long time there’s been nothing, while in Italy they just continued to built new architecture. Many new architecture movement were born, but they weren’t fighting each other – they respected each other.

MM: So this exhibition started from a sort of comparison between the reconstruction in Italy and in Germany after the war. In Germany they didn’t continue Albert Speer’s thought, but in Italy they went beyond fascist’s architecture. 

IM: Yes, in Italy they just went on. Maybe the only one who followed fascist architecture was Marcello Piacentini, while Ponti, Nervi and many others more, went beyond that, they just continued their work.

MM: You wanted to express this sense of continuity in the curtain you made for this exhibition?

IM: Yes. It starts with Futurismo, and then it goes upwards. You can see the continuity from the floor of the space, which was probably made in the beginning of the Century. So the starting points are the tiles, and the curtain starts with their shape, like objects growing out of the floor, and then it becomes just one flow that rises. This is a connection between the space and architecture, in order to say that everything in a way has a starting point, and that this starting point is flexible.

MM: It flows like a sublimation: you start from the “solid” shapes of tiles on the floor, and then you embroidered the layout of some buildings, then we pass to just theory, just the names of those architectural movements.

IM: In some European countries, and also in America, the movements were really sectorial, but not here in Italy. They were respecting each other very much. And I think this is the reason why it’s so extremely modern. Walter Gropius came to Italy after the war and then said that the North of Italy has the most modern architecture you can think of. I also did some pieces in concrete that look a little bit like they are ruined, because when you look now at these buildings, they are falling apart. Torino was one of the most modern towns, and now the buildings are falling apart. I just want to point this out, so people can pay attention to this. But I don’t want to blame anybody for that, my exhibition is not about blaming. I don’t have a solution for this situation, I’d just want people to look at those fantastic buildings, to see how beautiful they are and how they were made, and how important now they are. Going back to your first question, that’s the purpose of the title.

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