In Turin, on the bank of the Po River facing the hill, a few steps from Piazza Vittorio and still many less from the Gran Madre, among the unpaved paths trodden with mysterious determination by improvised runners, and with pensive mystery by slow retirees, among the ruins of the cruel graffiti-covered cages of the former zoo, crouching among linden trees, plane trees and ginko biloba, lies a half-destroyed building, with windows and doors buffered by improvised metal sheets, whose only part still intact, the front one, resembles the toothed mouth of the fossil of a huge reptile bleached by time.
It is the Aquarium-Reptilarium built between 1957 and 1960 by the Atomic Architect Enzo Venturelli, which has been lying in a state of abandonment in Michelotti Park since March 29, 1987, ever since the Turin Zoo, a senseless place of suffering and unnecessary cruelty, was finally closed to the public.
Since the first half of 2018, and for about a year and a half, we have been trying to turn this shabby Ex-Reptilarium into a Kunsthalle. To no avail.
What you have in your hands is the publication that we would have liked to distribute to the public during the fictitious opening day of the Ex-Reptilarium-now-Kunsthalle-restituted-to-the-city-and-to-the-world-lo-and-behold, an event that never saw the light of day.
The publication – and now things get complicated, try to follow along – would, ironically, have come from a parallel universe in which our Ex-Reptilarium restoration project had fallen through, unable to open our Kunsthalle to the public.
For the publication we would have kept a tone like, “This is an unrealized project where we are going to exhibit projects that very hardly anyone would make us do!”
The publication would have exhibited a series of management initiatives and exhibition proposals that, through hyperbole and various extremes, would ironize on the hypocrisies of cultural institutions, accompanying everything with stock photos of the Aquarium-Reptilarium from the Venturelli Archive.
The audience that in the meantime was visiting the real exhibition we were opening in our new Reptilian Kunsthalle, reading the publication would have said, “But look at these Treti jokers!”
But instead, doubly ironic, we kind of jinxed it on ourselves. So be it.
As it turns out, the parallel universe we wanted to refer to in the publication coincided with ours, since we were unable to restore the Ex-Reptilarium, and this was mainly for three reasons: the first was that it took too much money, the second was that it really took a lot of money, and the third, the main one, was that we didn’t have the money.
So here we are, with a publication coming not from a parallel universe but from our own, whose content of ironic celebration of a fictitious failure, ironically goes to coincide with a real failure. But making it much less bitter for us. Because Paolo and Davide’s confidence in entrusting us with the sixth issue of Condylura, and Marco Grandmaster Casella’s splendid and immense graphic work, have refreshed us from our semi-delusion of not being able to open the Reptilian Kunsthalle.
We wonder if in the parallel universe where the Reptilian Kunsthalle is open and active, the publication we distributed during the opening is identical to this one.
Designed by Marco Casella
The photos reproduced here are amateur photos of the originals from the Venturelli Fund, preserved at Archivio di Stato di Torino, and are published with the kind permission of the latter.
Arch. Sonia Bigando – Arch. Roberto Nivolo – Arch. Giovanni Comoglio – Arch. Maurizio Cilli – Luisa Gentile