Niccolò de Mojana


There was a time, in Italy, during which strolling about the cities' sidewalks could be an unforgettable experience. To understand it, one should simply look at William Klein's pictures on everyday life in the streets of Rome, towards the end of the fifties (if you pass by the Colosseo, don't miss the exhibition that lasts until the 25th of July). It was a time that the generation I belong to can hardly imagine, under the spell of that ambiguous nostalgia that can be felt for something that was never lived, a kind of regret very fashionable today. "La strada è la casa degli italiani" (the street is the home of the Italians) , they used to say, when the children could go out without risking to be run over by cars and when the elderly could appear at the window without being poisoned by exhaust fumes.

Today, as we know, the street has become instead "la casa delle automobili" (the home of cars), a sterile passing place from a spot to another, useful at most for commercial aims, as scenery for billboards and shop windows. In this issue of MilanoCittàAperta, our look on the city tries to show the fruits of the aestethic metamorphosis that took place in the years of the "wild" development, making the streets and the urban sceneries so different from those of the post-war period. From the motorist-sardine's alienation to the non-naturalness of the colours that enlighten the streets, from the half-apocalyptic sceneries of the everlasting construction sites to the contrast with the underground world that we completely ignore, up to the devastating and invading manipulation of advertisements that observe us everywhere and wherever we turn.

We believe that it's necessary to talk about today's reality also questioning oneself on the aestethic quality of the surrounding world and maybe this is really one of the most undervalued aspects by social criticism on cities, a criticism that often doesn't take into account the seriousness of visual pollution.
Because the street is the true horizon of the world of city dwellers and because, as sung by the Milanese singer-song-writer Giorgio Gaber: "bisogna uscire dalle case / dove noi ci nascondiamo / bisogna ritornare nella strada / nella strada per conoscere chi siamo"*.

*We have to leave our homes / where we hide / we have to go back to the street / to the street to understand who we are.