Alessandro Riva, (meta) luoghi temporaneamente autonomi, in Dimore, exhibition catalogue, Avellino 2000
In his much cited work Non-lieux, the French anthropologist Marc Augé has identified in the spaces characteristic of supermodernity—airports, expressways, department stores, duty-free shops—the paradox of an age—our own—that concentrates the sense of its own daily life in spaces that are essentially places (or, to be precise, non-places) of transit, of temporary movement, and that still preserve solely in the cramped confines of a poster, a road sign or an advertisement the nominal (and abstract) sense of places, understood as physical, static spaces, which have founded their own history: “The non-place,” writes Augé, “borrows its words from the soil, something seen on expressways where the ‘rest areas’ … are sometimes named after some particular and mysterious attribute of the surrounding land.” Thus the non-places typical of supermodernity become true paradoxes, geographical places of transit that contain within themselves the memory, or just the idea, of the land with which they are in relationship. The places of Enrico Lombardi—although in formal terms light years away from Augé’s non-places—are to some extent a metaphor and a banner of this continual and inextricable paradox. In this last cycle of works, in fact, Enrico has literally founded a place (or a series of places) that, while containing in itself the extreme form of the journey, of the transit from one space to another, actually bears the name (and the sense) of the dwelling—which is, or ought to be, the exact opposite of the transit (“Places and non-places are opposed [or attracted] like the words and notions that enable us to describe them … Thus we can contrast the realities of transit … with those of residence or dwelling,” says Augé again). Enrico’s dwellings are in fact places that contain within them, metaphorically, the sense of the external landscape and of the internal one, of the outside and the inside, of inner space and the space of appearance. They are geometric paradoxes, zones of psychogeographical opening that, like the cities plied by the crazy (and highly lucid) Situationist explorers, have to be traversed without certainties and without mental paradigms, along routes that are at once passionate (our and his memory of places) and objective (the complex superstructure of ideas, legenda and preconceptions that we have absorbed of those same places over the course of time). Lombardi’s are in reality, if not nonplaces, then meta-places, spaces that allude to the idea of other spaces that our memory has known in the past, and that of this idea, or of this memory, retain at once the idea of the enclosed place (childhood, to be precise) and of the journey, the transit (the distance we have traveled to get here), of order and chaos, of logic and delusion, of reality and utopia. They are psychic paradoxes whose map appears—deliberately—impossible to trace, just as at first sight it would seem impossible to follow, rationally, the route of the famous Möbius strip. And it is exactly in this lucid, geometric madness of theirs that lies their subtle but inexorable subversive power.