Una architettura delle immagini
An architecture of images
A certain aesthetic fascination has strongly influenced the reception of fascist architecture since the postwar period. Over the years, filmmakers, photographers, as well as writers, designers, and intellectuals have repeatedly used the strong imaginative and pictorial impact of the white, geometrically cut volumes of fascist architecture to create an impressive amount of film and image material. In these cases, architecture usually serves as a fascinating, abstract and aesthetic backdrop.
Although it remains questionable whether such manipulation can be ethically justified, at this point we are only interested in the question of the impact of these images on Italian society. Particularly interesting in this regard are the studies of British architectural theorist Neil Leach, who in the late 1990s evaluated Walter Benjamin's theory under the conditions of his time. In his book The Anaesthetics of Architecture, Leach starts from the current "hegemony of the image" to assess the effects of "image saturation "21 in architecture.
By the term "image hegemony," the author means a view prevalent in the specialist literature that in the globalized consumerist society of our time everyone is exposed to a continuous and uninterrupted succession of images. In particular, Leach linked the proliferation of glossy architectural images to the loss of an attitude of critical distance to the political and social meanings of architecture, defending this phenomenon as an "intoxication of aesthetics." The key word "intoxication of aesthetics" can also be used to describe the fascination with fascist architecture that has grown in the media from the postwar period to the present.
As early as 1972, Federico Fellini defined the fascist architecture of Rome's EUR district as "a place very suitable for those who have to produce images as a profession "22 and emphasized the timeless and metaphysical atmosphere of the district's buildings. In addition to Fellini, there are numerous directors who have chosen fascist architecture for their films since the 1950s: Rossellini, Monicelli, De Sica, Godard, Antonioni, and Bertolucci, to name the most important. In their works, the architecture lost all political connotations, because-as Pier Paolo Pasolini said in a documentary-there was "nothing fascist in this architecture, except for some external characteristics." The strong presence of fascist architecture in cinema and advertising cannot be understood in itself as the cause of the de-contextualization process, but it undoubtedly fostered the aestheticization of fascist architecture.
Moreover, since the 1990s, it is no longer only cinema that makes use of the aesthetics of fascist architecture, but increasingly another cultural discipline, fashion. As part of a broad social process that Owen Hatherley has called the "colonization of space by the fashion industry," fashion brands have not only used modern architecture as a backdrop for their corporate identity, but at the same time have linked their image to major international architects. As part of their support for the restoration of the country's boundless artistic and cultural heritage, the big names in fashion -- Armani, Fendi, Prada and Zegna, for example -- have shown a special interest in the architecture and art of the Mussolini era. The interest of fashion brands works toward the emergence of an aesthetic of fascist architecture that sees in it the embodiment of a supposed Italian elegance expressed both in national fashion and in the white volumes of 1930s architecture.