In Rome the vision of the Franco-Portuguese artist-architect
looking at art in a society under transformation

Above: Lampedusa, 2015, Maxxi Didier Faustino © ADAGP
Courtesy the artist and Galleria Filomena Soares, Lisboa

Builthefight, 2015, alla Chicago Architecture Biennial Didier Faustino © ADAGP
Courtesy Parque Galeria / Mexico City, Mexico
Support of Chicago Architecture Biennial

Vortex Populi, 2015 Didier Faustino © ADAGP
Courtesy the artist and Galleria Michel Rein, Paris/Bruxelles
Support of Magasin, Grenoble, France
Photo: Blaise Adilon

Ashes to Ashes, 2015 Didier Faustino © ADAGP
Courtesy the artist and Galleria Michel Rein, Paris/Bruxelles
Support of Magasin, Grenoble, France
Photo: Blaise Adilon

Lampedusa, 2015, studio Didier Faustino © ADAGP
Courtesy the artist and Galleria Filomena Soares, Lisboa

Body in Transit, 2000 Didier Faustino © ADAGP
Courtesy the artist and Galleria Michel Rein, Paris/Bruxelles

If we were to indicate where intelligence is located between the body and the mind, probably we would have no doubts in choosing the second of the two, yet the body is a pure expression of intelligence - it is the most complete form of it and the most meaningful medium. Perhaps this is why art has always chosen it to be its privileged object of representation without retreating from this position even in the contemporary post-figurative epoch. In this case an architect is looking at the body but with designers’ tools and an artist’s attitude. For Didier Fiùza Faustino (1968) “architecture originally was and should still be the way of arranging the body in space.” This is a condition that unfortunately does not happen often because architecture has become the self-regulating result of a series of applied regulations: a reality in which the body struggles to find space. In response to this state of affairs Fiùza Faustino and his Bureau des Mésarchitectures have rejected the established standards of architecture and are working on a broader scale that is more concerned with language and communication and in which installations alternate with performances and videos.

As a multifaceted author, Fiùza Faustino has been mentioned several times in connection with the “Chernikhov Prize” (Moscow) and has participated in numerous biennials (Venice, Taipei, Yokohama, San Paolo, Istanbul and Beijing), including the one in Chicago this year. Today Fiùza Faustino, along with three other authors (the Korean Choi Jeong-Hwa, the Italian Martino Gamper and the Mexican Pedro Reyes) is one of the leading players of the "Transformers" collective exhibition curated by Hou Hanru and Anne Palopoli at MAXXI in Rome. The term that gives the show its title, which refers to the famous Japanese toy robot that can turn into different characters, alludes to the increasingly unclear boundaries between the disciplines of art, design and architecture in a global context marked by rapid political, social and technological changes. The project experiments with how the four designers present ideas for changing the world, or better, transforming a series of visions that have a wider collective resonance, thus giving new import to the famous expression coined by the Canadian graphic designer Bruce Mau regarding his Massive Change project: “It's not about the world of design, but the design of the world”.

Fiùza Faustino has expressed his vision through three works. The site-specific installation Lampedusa explores the issue of the migration of peoples which is ever more dramatic, especially in a context such as the Mediterranean. It is a giant polystyrene buoy to which people cling for their lives: the basic module of a floating landscape, a secure archipelago adrift in the Mediterranean Sea. Symptomatically, the buoy, which has an iconic three-pointed shape is placed in front of a large reproduction of the Zattera della Medusa by Géricault. The same theme is interpreted with different hints of meaning in the work Body in Transit, a minimal space designed for the transport of illegal immigrants and consisting of a container designed to be hung on the undercarriage of a plane.

Presented at the Venice Biennale in 2000 and part of the permanent collection at the Centre Pompidou, Body in Transit has helped to put Fiùza Faustino on the international stage. The latest work displayed at MAXXI is Exploring Dead Buildings 2.0, an installation created in Havana, at a dance school designed by Italian architect Vittorio Garatti between 1961-1965 which was never put into service. Fascinated by architectures that have never been actually used (the first episode of the project was staged in 2010 and refers the abandoned building intended for the Ministry of Infrastructure in Tbilisi, Georgia), Fiùza Faustino designed a special mechanism that turns the bodies into mobile scanners in order to explore the buildings and rewrite history.

In all three works the body exerts forms of intelligence through interacting with the design of the objects: through movement (Exploring Dead Buildings 2.0), a pause or halt (Lampedusa) or stasis (Body in Transit). These three conditions establish a kind of conceptual dance that gives consistency to the art and thus creates a sort of upset or disturbance with respect to traditional artistic expressions in which the body is the passive object of representation: in this case it becomes the active subject. This first of all is perhaps the form of intelligence that Didier Fiùza Faustino gives us.

Guido Musante

Didier Fiuza Faustino

Interview: Cinzia Bontempi - Footage: Luca Garofalo ©Babylon


Courtesy of Didier Fiuza Faustino

 Above and below: Exploring Dead Buildings 2.0, 2015
 A movie of Didier Faustino products by Digital District
 Courtesy the artist and Galleria Filomena Soares, Lisboa
 Support of Architectural Association, Institut Français, 12th Havana Biennial e BayVista Production