Yona Friedman has lived in an apartment on the fourth floor of an ordinary and sturdy Haussmann building on Boulevard Garibaldi in Paris with his wife Denise since 1968. Those fortunate enough to visit him see not just a series of rooms opening up before them, but a small and personal sancta sanctorum – or debhir, in Hebrew.
It is a secret place filled with a large number of, but by no means heterogeneous, objects that surprise visitors, capturing their attention until the pure form of the rooms almost vanishes. The seemingly disordered composition of souvenirs, craft pieces, models, elementary drawings and small pieces of rubbish transformed into ready-mades is, however, in line with Friedman’s theoretical research. (1)
For some time now, Stefano Graziani has sought to make photographs that represent anything but the “instant décisif”. (2) Graziani wants a more studied and conceptual photograph that portrays lifeless beings, soulless things suited to taxonomy - be they archive objects, vegetables or stuffed animals. This is why it was completely natural for him to photograph Friedman’s home, where he discovered a prominent subject in a different colour in every room.
Giorgio Agamben wrote: “The 13th-century poets applied the word ‘stanza’, i.e. ‘large abode and repository’, to the core of their poetry because, along with all the formal elements of the song, it guarded that joi d’amor that they saw as the only purpose of the poetry.” (3) Similarly, Yona Friedman – not to mention Stefano Graziani – seems to use his “stanza” as the “heart” of his work.
1. Yona Friedman, Rubbish is beautiful ovvero dell’utilizzazione dei rifiuti, in Id., Utopie realizzabili, Macerata, Quodlibet 2003, pp. 92-93.
2. Henri Cartier-Bresson, L’instant décisif, in Id., L’imaginaire d’après nature, Fata Morgana 1996, pp. 17-32.
3. Giorgio Agamben, Stanze. La parola e il fantasma nella cultura occidentale, Torino, Einaudi 1977, p. XIII; Stanzas: Word and Phantasm in Western Culture, Minneapolis - London, University of Minnesota Press 1992, p. xvii.