Incompiuto. Unfinished public works broadcasted on TV

The research by Alterazioni Video is presented at the Manifesta 12 Palermo biennial with an exhibition, a workshop and a book, from which we publish an exclusive preview.

Alterazioni Video, Incompiuto Siciliano

“Incompiuto: The Birth of a Style” is a documentary research by Alterazioni Video on what the artist collective defines as “the most important Italian architectural style of the last 50 years”.
Winning project of the first edition of the Italian Council contest, the ten years long reaserch on the Italian territory form a new perspective with which to re-read the Italian landscape. The completed catalogue includes about 750 unfinished works in Italy, of which 250 in Sicily.

The research is presented in Palermo, among the collateral events of Manifesta 12, with an exhibition, a book, and a workshop. Curated by Davide Giannella, the show includes a video installation at the former Church of S. Mattia ai Crociferi and the exhibition of the entire photographic atlas at the Centro Internazionale di Fotografia di Palermo. The publication, edited by Alterazioni Video and Fosbury Architecture, defines a typological index and creates an Italian catalogue of unfinished works. The book also features the contributions of Marc Augé, Marco Biraghi, Filippo Minelli and Davide Giannella, Wu Ming, Leoluca Orlando, Antonio Ricci, Salvatore Settis, Robert Storr and Paul Virilio. It

Hereby an excerpt from the book published by Humboldt Books. The author, Antonio Ricci, has conceived one of the most successful programs in the history of Italian television: Striscia la Notizia.


Antonio Ricci, Besugoland

When we started making the satirical news programme Striscia la notizia, we had no clear information on unfinished works. The funny thing was that they really did go unnoticed; they were simply overlooked and nobody talked about them. The first report we did was in San Remo, in ’92: it was the ‘Aurelia bis’ road and we sent along our puppet mascot ‘Gabibbo’. It was a viaduct that ended up in the middle of a cemetery. The planners had got their calculations wrong and the road just broke o because the pylons would have had to be built inside the graveyard. The footage they shot was amazing, with Gabibbo leaning o the edge of the unfinished viaduct and peering down onto the graves below, o ering all too easy metaphors on the meaning of life. That opened my eyes to a lot of things, for example, that the one near my house was not the only road that suddenly broke o like that, but there were loads of them throughout Italy. It was just that nothing was ever said anything about them; nobody talked about them for the simple reason that it was the kind of news you would only expect to find in local papers if at all. But then local rags are o en under the influence of local politicians, who have every interest in hushing up news about the waste of public money taking place in their own backyard.

The unfinished works are repetitive, and anything repetitive on TV immediately falls from grace, tends to be removed; people just turn over and no longer watch it.

Striscia was the first show to have an email address; a friend of mine from the University of Genoa had set it up in a rather makeshift fashion. At the start, we got emails from people who were very well informed; we would get news stories that were already ninety-nine per cent true. They would send us the documentation and it was very easy to go and check them out. All the loudmouths, the mythomaniacs and the like had yet to make their appearance... they were still scribbling on toilet walls. This direct contact with the concerned public gave us an immediate advantage, opening our eyes on a hidden Italy that we had no idea about, and it was pretty crazy stuff. And it wasn’t just roads ending up in mid-air due to the carelessness of planners, but a lot had been built just to hand out tenders. [...]

Alterazioni Video, Aviation runway in Vallo di Diano, Teggiano, Salerno
Alterazioni Video, Aviation runway in Vallo di Diano, Teggiano, Salerno

We even went to see Mario Monti, who had publicly asked to receive all the information available on unfinished works, and we took him all the videocassettes we had shot for Striscia. I don’t know what became of them. I don’t know either whether Sky News also started doing report after report on unfinished works (what’s more, a great number of them merely replicating our own) in the hope of increasing their audience share. It’s an amazing world of monstrosities and mysteries to get into, but if you look carefully, even the unfinished works are repetitive, and anything repetitive on TV immediately falls from grace, tends to be removed; people just turn over and no longer watch it. Even from an entertainment point of view, you can send in Gabibbo or our various other correspondents across the nation, be it on foot, in costume or doing somersaults on a bicycle, but in the end they’re all much of a muchness: you always feel like you’re looking at the same thing, because in the end they all have pretty much the same style: incomplete structures, overrun by vegetation or vandalism, concrete reinforcement bars sticking out here and there, doors and windows ripped out, the insides stripped bare, electric systems dismantled. And in the end, one is much like the next, like the dance routines of the showgirls: once people know what to expect, they head straight for their remotes and turn over.

Alterazioni Video, Caserma dei Carabinieri, Acri, Cosenza
Alterazioni Video, Caserma dei Carabinieri, Acri, Cosenza
Exhibition title:
Incompiuto: La nascita di uno Stile
Collateral events:
Manifesta 12 Palermo
Alterazioni Video
Curated by:
Davide Giannella
Centro Internazionale di Fotografia di Palermo:
13 June – 20 September 2018. Cantieri Culturali alla Zisa, via Paolo Gili 4, Palermo
Ex Chiesa di S. Mattia ai Crociferi:
15 – 20 June 2018. Via Torremuzza 28, Palermo
Edicola al Quinto Canto:
14 – 24 giugno 2018. Quattro Canti, Palermo
Book title:
Incompiuto: La nascita di uno Stile
Curated by:
Alterazioni Video and Fosbury Architecture
Alterazioni Video, Marc Augé, Marco Biraghi, Filippo Minelli e Davide Giannella, Wu Ming, Leoluca Orlando, Antonio Ricci, Salvatore Settis, Robert Storr, Paul Virilio
Alterazioni Video and Gabriele Basilico
332 pages, colour 22,5 x 31 cm
Graphic design:
Humboldt Books
Italian, English
Workshop title:
Incompiuto Summer School
Curated by:
Fosbury Architecture with Alterazioni Video
18 – 24 June 2018
Cantieri Culturali Zisa
Info e iscrizioni:

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