Gianni Pettena: “In The Abscence of Bodies (Laundry)”

If any of you happen to be driving by UMOCA on West Temple, make sure to take a gander at some laundry hanging outside our window, literally. The front lawn of UMOCA is dedicated to a recreation of architect and artist, Gianni Pettena’s In the Absence of Bodies (Laundry) 1969/2013.  For two weeks, donated clothing from the community will be hanging and flapping in the hot summer breeze until July 20th.

Take a trip back in time with us; the year was 1969 in the Piazza del Duomo Como, Italy. Pettena chose to hang out laundry on clothes lines, with the aim of underlining the difference between the appearance of a city and the experience of living in it. Thus the installation set out to make people reflect on other aspects of urban space other than merely the visual ones, “violating” its official image by the insertion of a working-class element, similarly different to the landscape. By mocking the static character of that context, the clothes lines draped with laundry hung out to dry, instead spoke to the freshness of life and not the death of its appearance. The washing reminded us that official places are spaces for the display of economic power, but that the city is also, and perhaps above all, a place where life exists.

Today this piece is a communal effort to breathe life of living entities into the city landscape.