Bodies, Landscapes – International Landscape Study Days 18. – 19. Feb + 25. – 26. Feb on Zoom

main photo: British women on bench. Kew Gardens, London, England. photo by Marc Treib

How does the body-landscape relationship evolve in the Anthropocene? By ‘body” we mean an active presence, an essential part of a world which is transformed and reveals itself to us through our physical state. And ‘landscape’ is intended as every environment and place, even the walls of our homes which, lately, are often what we see th­e most. We reflect on microworlds that are «hybrids, blends, chimeras and deserts» of gardens, visit war cemeteries where «communities whose destiny is to fertilise Mother Earth», as Ernst Jünger wrote, rest, the remains of the “walking forest” as dubbed by Elias Canetti. We push further, exploring the man-landscape relationship as interpreted by art and artists.

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These are the profound and highly relevant themes which the Fondazione Benetton Studi Ricerche has decided to explore in the seventeenth edition of its International Landscape Study Days, organised by its Scientific Committee and coordinated by Luigi Latini and Simonetta Zanon. The talks will be held online on Zoom, with a simultaneous translation in Italian and English, on the afternoons of Thursday 18, Friday 19, Thursday 25 and Friday 26 February, starting at 5.00 pm. Leading experts in different disciplines will take part and the days will be followed by more events over the coming months, continuing this reflection of the many different aspects of landscape, one of the subjects of the ongoing research and divulgation of the Fondazione Benetton Studi Ricerche.

The four days are divided into sessions, whose intent is not to separate spheres and context which, by their very nature, are inextricably linked, but to suggest, with keywords, possible avenues to explore, following fundamental directions which we use to organise our presence in places.

Thursday 18 February at 5.00 pm

the first of the four days will focus on “in the imagination”, with talks by Marc Treib, Professor of Architecture Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, Massimo Bartolini, artist, Matteo Frittelli, director and Nicolas Vamvouklis, curator.

The session will begin with an introduction by Luigi Latini and Simonetta Zanon, curators of the Study Days, and a screening of the short film by Marco Zuin Bodies, landscapes which explores the themes up for discussion.

Poetry and a healthy dose of realism are all part of Marc Treib’s vision who, after observing that «All our senses are stimulated in the landscape: the sound of the wind as it blows through the grass or on the water, the fragrance of flowers or rotting leaves, the feel of rough or smooth bark on a tree, and even our sense of taste, although probably through our nose rather than our mouth», notes that «burial in a cemetery shows the definitive, lasting connection between the body and the landscape».

Nicolas Vamvouklis, curator of contemporary art and director of the K-Gold Temporary Gallery, Greece, will reflect on Performative landscapes. Presence and body in contemporary artistic practices. His contribution explores the intimate relationship between the performing arts and the landscape, commenting on the principal works of Ana Mendieta, Joan Jonas, Zhang Huan and Julius von Bismarck. These four artists place their bodies at the centre of their research, creating a workshop for the production of new knowledge and shared experience. Massimo Bartolini, the Tuscan concept artist, will bring his own highly original experience and vision to this theme, discussing his Black Circle Square, a work inspired by the painting Black Circle by the Russian-Ukrainian artist Kazimir Malevič (1878-1935) which he created for Emscherkunst 2016, using the Fire Department water reservoir on the border between Dortmund and Castrop-Rauxel. A black circle, which is actually the water reservoir, lies in a large white square plateau. The composition is a kind of garden without trees, a landscape that requires regular cleaning and tending; the physical immersion at the centre of the performance which, thanks to the images of director Matteo Frittelli, can be replayed over and over again, speaks of the evolution of a place, the active role that everyone can have and changes that can be made to a paradigm, signalling a reconciliation with the nature and landscape we belong to, something that is necessary and made possible thanks to art.

Black Circle Square, opera di Massimo Bartolini, video di Matteo Frittelli

Friday 19 February at 5.00 pm,

the second session will focus on the theme “in urban space, in the home”, with contributions from Cristina Bianchetti, lecturer in Urbanism at the Polytechnic of Turin, Francesco Careri, lecturer in the Department of Architecture at Roma Tre University and co-founder of the Stalker collective, an urban art laboratory, and Luca Molinari, lecturer in Architectural Theory and Design at the University of Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli” and scientific director of the M9 Museum in Mestre (Venice). Luca Molinari will analyse the theme of the body in our domestic space which «could be considered the sum of our relations, micro spatiality and the objects that represent us, suggesting a subtle and complex relationship between us and our idea of home… an unstable but very important landscape… the scene of conflict and change which reflect the structural crisis of our time, which the pandemic has aggravated … taking the relationship between the body, illness, segregation and the place we live in to the extreme, a condition that is worth reflecting on, exploring how domestic landscapes will take shape in the years to come». Cristina Bianchetti will then shift attention From urban planning of places to urban planning of bodies, illustrating how «urban planning of bodies opens up new investigations, new embodied, vibrant, relational cartographies. Not massive overviews, like André Corboz’s atlases of Geneva, Bernardo Secchi’s land projects or the many landscape projects of the Nineties. Understanding the urban environment is no longer dependent on morphology, history or institutional processes, but how spaces expresses, intensifies, attenuates and makes these themes tangible, themes which, when raised in generality, force the boundaries of the single body». Francesco Careri will then illustrate some of the projects he has carried out over the past twenty-five years with Stalker and others, exploring the theme Nomad alternatives for life in the city. The basic assumption is that «architecture was never intended to be sedentary, but nomadic. And it is precisely because of this natural instinct to move about that complex systems of cultural rules, the foundation on which hospitality is built, developed in all ancient civilisations. Nomadism and hospitality have shaped our way of living a lot more than we actually think and can still help us change our lifestyle and transform our cities».

Thursday 25 February at 5.00 pm,

the third session will look at “in the landscape”, with Cristina Barbiani, Matteo Meschiari, Marco Mulazzani. Matteo Meschiari, anthropologist and lecturer in Geography at the University of Palermo, will speak about the profound roots of mankind in “creating the landscape” and how the change in landscape, which began 1.8 million years ago with Homo habilis, became the «invention of the landscape» with the arrival of Homo sapiens 200,000 years ago due to the evolutionary strategy for survival of our species. Marco Mulazzani, lecturer in the History of Architecture at the University of Ferrara, will then look closely at burial sites of German soldiers between 1920 and 1970, examining the body-landscape relationship from a more unusual point of view, the unavoidable viewpoint of death in western culture.

Cristina Barbiani, scientific director of the master’s degree course in Digital Exhibit at Iuav University of Venice, will focus on the human landscapes of Anna and Lawrence Halprin. Anna was a choreographer and dancer, Lawrence a landscape architect, and their reciprocal influences drove them out of «the comfort zone of their respective disciplines, looking and moving further afield, in a continuous challenge that tries to keep together art and life, control of the space and attention to the individual, psychoanalysis and political struggle, awareness of the past and focus on the present. Landscapes and gardens designed for those who visit them and choreographies that move and transform space are just some transformations of the relationship between a figure and its background».

The session will end with the online screening of the film Breath made visible, by Ruedi Gerber (USA, 2009, length 100’) on the life and career of Anna Halprin.

Anna Halprin, Dance Deck, Kentfield, California

Friday 26 February at 5.00 pm,

the fourth session will concentrate on “in the garden” with Veronique Faucheur and Marc Pouzol, landscape architects from the studio atelier le balto, Berlin; Marcello Di Paola, environmental philosopher and lecturer at the University of Palermo and Loyola University Chicago JFRC; and Monique Mosser, art and garden historian, Paris will also take part.

The title of Marcello Di Paola’s talk is «Landscapes as gardens: the hybrids, blends, chimeras and deserts of Anthropocene». «If we take the garden as a model», he writes, «we can identify four kinds of landscapes which characterise the Anthropocene: hybrid landscapes, like all gardens; blended landscapes, where biological-ecological-anthropogenic forces have the upper hand over human forces; chimera landscapes, which ecological forces are excluded from; and deserted landscapes, post-human places where anthropological forces are excluded». Veronique Faucheur and Marc Pouzol, French landscape architects from atelier le balto in Berlin, will illustrate how their vision of creating a garden is a little like working on a choreography, and how the art of the garden is like staging (or “spacing”) a drawing or sketch, where the protagonists are both the original ‘cast’ of plants and the bodies that live in it. Monique Mosser, the international expert in garden history and criticism, will conclude the Study Days with a talk on metamorphosis, inspired by the infinite combinations which the body-garden relationship has prompted in the past and present.


The 2021 Landscape Study Days will be held online on Zoom with a simultaneous translation in Italian and English.

Participation in the Study Days is free; registration is required using the link on the Foundation’s social media channels and website where details are published.

For information:

Programme (short version)

Thursday 18 February at 5 pm ( registration link )

Opening of the days, Luigi Latini and Simonetta Zanon

Bodies, landscapes , projection of Marco Zuin’s short film, made for this occasion on the themes of the study days

In the imagination , first session

Marc Treib, Reception / perception: feeling the landscape

Nicolas Vamvouklis Performative landscapes. Presence and corporeal in contemporary artistic practices

Massimo Bartolini and Matteo Frittelli,  The Black Circle Square  in the Emscher Park landscape

Friday 19 February at 5 pm  ( registration link )

In the urban space, in the house , second session

Cristina Bianchetti, From urban planning of places to urban planning of bodies  

Luca Molinari, The body in the domestic space. Reflections on the present

Francesco Careri,  Nomadic alternatives to live in cities

Thursday 25 February at 5 pm  ( registration link )

In the landscape , third session

Matteo Meschiari, Landscapes and bodies of the Anthropocene

Marco Mulazzani, The walking forest. The burials of German soldiers 1920 1970

Cristina Barbiani,  The human landscapes of Anna and Lawrence Halprin

to follow Breath made visible. Revolution in dance ,  online screening of the documentary film by Ruedi Gerber (USA, 2010, duration 100 ‘)

Friday 26 February at 5 pm  ( registration link )

In the garden , fourth session

Marcello Di Paola, Landscapes like gardens: hybrids, smoothies, chimeras and deserts of the Anthropocene

Veronique Faucheur and Marc Pouzol,  The art of making gardens: a choreography

Monique Mosser, Metamorphosis of bodies in the culture of the garden

Participating in the study days:

Cristina Barbiani , scientific director of the Master Digital Exhibit at the Iuav University of Venice;

Massimo Bartolini , artist, Cecina (Livorno);

Cristina Bianchetti , Professor of Urban Planning at the Polytechnic of Turin;

Francesco Careri , professor at the Department of Architecture of the Roma Tre University, co-founder of the urban exploration collective Stalker;

Marcello Di Paola , environmental philosopher, University of Palermo and Loyola University Chicago JFRC;

Veronique Faucheur , landscape architect, atelier le balto, Berlin;

Matteo Frittelli , director, founder of Altopiano studio, Milan;

Matteo Meschiari , anthropologist, professor of Geography at the University of Palermo;

Luca Molinari , professor of Theory and Design of Architecture at the Second University of Campania Luigi Vanvitelli, scientific director of the M9 Museum in Mestre;

Monique Mosser , art and garden historian, Paris;

Marco Mulazzani , professor of History of Architecture at the University of Ferrara;

Marc Pouzol , landscape architect, atelier le balto, Berlin;

Marc Treib , Emeritus Professor of Architecture, University of California, Berkeley;

Nicolas Vamvouklis , curator of contemporary art, director of K-Gold Temporary Gallery, Greece;

Marco Zuin , director, Treviso.

Published on January 29, 2021

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