Unfinished Museum

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Cristina Bertolotti

I see the aesthetics of the unfinished rich and deep in meanings … the wall not painted to completion can have great strength.


If I say “unfinished” what is the first thing that comes to your mind?

I am reminded of the Japanese philosophy wabi sabi, of the beauty of imperfection, of the depth of indeterminacy, where the boundary between existence and nonexistence leaves room for an intuitive vision of the essential, natural, multiform, elusive, creative simplicity.

Unfinished what color / shape is it?

An open form, a sort of open construction site, in continuous change, where everything is still possible, and at the same time it has the intimate shape of an overgrown but well-kept garden, where you can find peace, meditation and reflection. It has the colors of oxidated copper, of rusty metal, of wood whitened by the salt of sea water, of mosses on the rock, it has the colors of the magic of raku.

Is there something you have left undone in your life?

I have unfinished projects in my work, in my studies and seeds of projects on territorial enhancement, landscape, “high lands”, marginal territories, on the recovery of abandoned villages and places. This is part of my profession on participatory architecture in the territory that I have lost. 20 years ago it was pioneering, an ideal to tend to, there was enthusiasm, there were projects and there was a lot to invest with long-term and uncertain economic returns that I could not afford.

What is your relationship with unfinished things?

These are things that remain open. I see the aesthetics of the unfinished, rich and deep in meanings … the wall not painted to completion can have great strength. The finished project can incorporate the unfinished, room for improvement, something that perfection would take away in part. After all, I look for the unfinished, because it leaves room for the imagination. There are books that I loved so much, of which I have not read the last pages, in that non-ending I leave it alive inside me, I do not close it. It’s like a promise made to the one you love never to abandon them, but to let them be.

Something unfinished that you would like finished?

I don’t know, I like to think that what is unfinished may bring something new and therefore that’s okay. Some unfinished projects have an inner strength from which a creative tension arises that leaves you breathless. I am thinking of Michelangelo’s unfinished Prisons, of its modernity, of Leonardo’s drawings made more of absences than of lines and shapes. I am thinking of Fontana’s abstractionism, minimalism. But if I think of the bell tower of the Turin Cathedral, it has a false roof, it is an ugly roof that has never been replaced, Juvarra had wanted to place there a pinnacle, when I see it I feel the urge to add a top made of light and crystal.

What is a fertilizer for you? What does it mean to fertilize?

Surely knowledge is a fertilizer, to fertilize is to create conditions to make potentiality arise. Emptiness is fertilizer, silence, curiosity, humility, good thoughts, happiness, pain, change and what doesn’t change … manure. Everything in an open mind and a big heart becomes fertilizer. Ignorance, presumption, arrogance are not. Knowing that you don’t know is.

Your favorite fertilizer?

The contact with nature, meditation, human relationships, friendships, confrontation and my daughter, the most wonderful and most difficult human being in the world, they all fertilize me.

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