Peter Lang
Exhibition Design
Matthew Ashton
Commisioned by
Vancouver Art Gallery
Exhibition Period
February 20, 2016 until June 12, 2016
Works by
9999, U.F.O, Superstudio and Alessandro Poli




Over the course of three days in November 1971, the Florentine discotheque Space Electronic was transformed into a tactical site for full-scale installations, performance spaces and a theatre for fabulist storytelling and space-age screenings. These experiences were part of the first Mondial Festival, featuring Life, Death and Miracles of Architecture, an elaborate programme that also included an experimental learning centre called S-Space: the Separate School for Expanded Conceptual Architecture. It was the first school of its kind to chart the progress of the Italian Radical design movement.

One in a series of prototypical discotheques built in Italy, Space Electronic opened in 1969, originating as a self-organized project, constructed through collective know-how and communal labour. Space Electronic was half ludic dance hall, half cybernetic chamber, and its making consolidated 9999’s reputation as critical players among the second wave of Italian Radical designers. What distinguishes the Mondial Festival is the way it subverted architectural practice, jettisoning the standard tropes of architecture—plans, sections, elevations and perspectives—in favour of enacting an architecture of experience. In other words, it was not architecture of representation but architecture of action.

For the three-day event in November 1971, the Festival featured a prominent roster of Italian Radical designers: Gianni Pettena, U.F.O., Remo Buti, and Zziggurat, along with Milanese pamphleteer and media theorist Ugo La Pietra, the Florence-based Fluxus musician Giuseppe Chiari and Florentine artist/ musician Renato Ranaldi. The international contingency included American Ant Farm, the San Francisco-based Portola Institute (behind Whole Earth Catalog), and Street Farmer from England. With the slogan “…we should better love our planet!” the event proved to be a significant study in cross-disciplinary actions, and just as importantly, the testing grounds for full-scale installations and live interventions. Space Electronic was an ideally receptive environment for the type of multipurpose and interactive happenings that so distinctly characterized the Italian Radical design movement in this prime moment. 


Excerpt from Peter Lang's exhibition catalogue text, "The Mondial Festival Presents: Life , Death and Miracles of Architecture and S-space, the Separate School for Expanded Conceptual Architecture , in the Space Electronic, Florence 1971"


Full text available here