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Giacomo Costa

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Giacomo Costa, born in 1970, lives and works in Florence. In 2006 he took part in the X Architecture Biennale of Venice. In October his work has also been shown in the exhibition 'Le Peintres de la vie moderne' at the Centre Pompidou in Paris and his work has remained in the permanent collection of the museum. In April 2009 the publisher Damiani published an anthological monograph on his work, with a preface by Sir Norman Foster and an essay by Luca Beatrice. In June 2009 he has been invited to represent Italy at 53rd Venice Biennale.

Giacomo Costa uses digital technology to generate a futuristic urban landscape. These fantastic, apocalyptic images borrow their aesthetic from science fiction literature and film, where architecture takes on a colossal scale. Pulverised landscapes and lonely structures that inhabit anonymous cities are constant element in this series, a metaphor for the depersonalisation that affects contemporary metropolises whose buildings soar above the human scale.



Giacomo Costa

One aspect of Giacomo Costa’s work is the extent to which it is so utterly convincing. Two of his works hang side to side above the reception desk in the Madrid office of my design practice. One day the lady at the desk noticed a visitor staring intently at his photographs on the wall and looking more and more agitated. Finally, unable to contain himself, he asked our receptionist - “when did all of this happen? I never even heard about it!”

In recounting this anecdote, I am critically aware of the fact that there is so much more depth to the art of Giacomo Costa’s work than its technical perfection, however impressive that might be. His total mastery of digital technologies and ability to meticulously fuse it with traditional photography is never an end in itself – but rather the means to unlock his apocryphal visions – to unleash a fierce imagination limited only by the four edges of each work.

This book covers the twelve years of his creative output. Several of the works shown here, including those in Madrid, are in the personal domain of our family, so we literally live with them. This is largely consequence of my wife’s foresight in identifying the talent of Giacomo Costa from her first contact with his work some three years ago.

This book covers the twelve years of his creative output. Several of the works shown here, including those in Madrid, are in the personal domain of our family, so we literally live with them. This is largely consequence of my wife’s foresight in identifying the talent of Giacomo Costa from her first contact with his work some three years ago.

I never discussed the imagery of these pages with the author, but they evoke science fiction, doom laden prophecies and man-made disasters. They have an eerie quietness, mostly bereft of life and deeply foreboding. Although destruction and decay permeates so many of these works there is often the counterpoint of some other-worldly intervention with an alien, futuristic geometry – the remnants of a later and more idealised urbanity. The monumentality of these interventions recall the heroic visions of a Boullée or Soleri.

Most of the works have an all-pervading sense of darkness and destruction, although there are exceptions. One of these is a vertically stretched metropolis, with many styles and periods, layered one on top of the other, rising like a canyon bathed in sunlight. However the one overriding and unifying theme that binds everything together is that of dense urbanity – virtually all of the images are of the city in one form or another.

I wonder at the coincidence of timing when here in 2008 we are taking stock of Giacomo Costa’s work. This is precisely the year, when for the first time, there are more people now in cities than in the history of our civilisation. By 2050 it is predicted that 70% of the world’s population will be urban.

These portrayals of the city occur not only post-911, but in a period in which the terrorist threat lurks behind our everyday normality. In these unsettling times our pundits conjecture if and when hidden forces might unleash the Armageddon of a nuclear strike or biological attack out of the blue. Giacomo Costa’s visions, with their infinite perspectives and limitless horizons, are like ruins from a lost civilization, which could be our civilization. Through his powerful vision they remind us above all of the fragility of our built world and the civic premises that have so far underpinned it.

- Norman Foster


Giacomo Costa
Firenze
Italy
Europe


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