Interview #56

Parasite 2.0

* The following text is an excerpt from an interview made in 2016. The original version is published in PANORAMA (DIORAMA editions).
* Parasite 2.0 is currently based between Bruxelles and Milan.

Parasite 2.0 (Stefano Colombo, Eugenio Cosentino, Luca Marullo) is a research, architecture and design studio, based between Bruxelles and Milan, founded in 2010. Their researches and projects have been exhibited at Kaaitheater, Damien and The Love Guru (Bruxelles), MAMbo (Bologna), Foundation (Los Angeles), Marres (Maastricht), Terraforma Festival (Milan), (New York), MAXXI (Rome), Shenzen Architecture Biennale (Shenzen), OGR Officine Grandi Riparazioni (Turin), XX Chilean Architecture Biennale (Valparaiso), La Biennale di Venezia (Venice).

How did the collective Parasite 2.0 come into life?

It was founded in 2010 in response to a strong university academicism. We perceived a total lack of attention towards the difficult economic, political and social conditions of those years. The founding of parasite was a reaction. We were educated to the order and sublime perfection of architecture. To this, we, instead, opposed the concept of parasite. Of a foreign body. We decided to focus on the study of the human habitat and on the side effects of planning and its inescapable links with the hegemonies of power: it was a way to understand man himself.

And why 2.0?

An element which in those years forced an argument on us was the loss of the boundaries between real and virtual, at a time when the internet in its version 2.0 entered haughtily our lives. Hence the suffix.

You have started working in the period in which the financial crisis had declared the failure of the capitalist system and the recognition of the Anthropocene in the geological time scale had been proposed. These events are related to fundamental topics of your research, right?

Yes. Our work looks however at all the manifestations of conflict, contrast, destabilization and crisis. The word crisis derives from the Greek language and means to take a decision and the architect, as a figure who is forced by the design process to take decisions, can therefore be considered in an ongoing crisis, in the era of a permanent human impact on the planet. We must necessarily review the fundamentals of anthropization and of what we call civilization. We believe that the practice should be faced in an ethical and critical, thus definitely political and ideological way.

Your method of research and experimentation is characterized by the use of many tools, then translated in the production of installations, platforms and texts, the organization of performances and events…

A single form of language is not sufficient to tackle the complexity of the contemporary. Hito Steyerl, who conducts a search without tool limits which we study a lot, says that the museum is a battlefield. We believe that any of our projects must produce knowledge, debate and conflict in many different ways. For us, the project itself is a battlefield. The first time we worked on this approach was in Viafarini and we pursue it on other occasions, where the debate generates works, installations, online platforms and books.

What you do has a political and educational background, well away from a creative approach intended as an authorial practice for its own sake.

It doesn’t bother us that our formation is not that of a curator, painter or sculptor. Nowadays, authorship has been destroyed by tutorials on Youtube. When we start a project, the first thing is to read a lot and gather information and then rework our own critical view. We do not tolerate an approach that is ‘authorial for its own sake’. Today even cultural topics are trendy. They are consumed like sneaker models. Just consider the influence that the Internet ‘of Things’ has had in recent years on art. How many have bothered to really understand it? Who has reflected on the different way to benefit from the information in the Internet age and its consequent cultural production, the hegemonies of power that are taking it over? We only obtain aesthetics that are children of their times. Little research is performed. What you find rather, is stupid presenteeism. The world of art and culture increasingly resemble the star system.

Your primary sector however remains architecture, and for several years you have based in Milan; in which way do you live this city?

We live it a lot during our work. We do not get around much. We are not the types that do not miss an event, an opening and its smiling public relations and pats on the shoulder. When we have some free time, we relax. Today, leisure is definitely the greatest treasure and rarity, in an era where work pervades life. Our working concept does not include the structuring of instrumental relationships. What we greatly appreciate of Milan and of the realities that populate it, are the energy and the high number of connections it enables.

You actually had the opportunity to collaborate with different local realities, such as Viafarini, Tile Project Space, Wired Next Fest and SPRINT…

When in 2010, when we created Parasite, we were 21. We could not expect to be immediately accepted by the artistic / architectural debate. But we did not address the problem. We had a great time. But we have worked hard to take our search to a certain degree of consciousness. After the first Biennale in Venice in 2012, our work was considered more mature. Actually, things had not changed that much. Often one tends to judge the appearance. Quite rarely people focus on the substance. There are some definitely people we met in Milan (now our true friends) that were fundamental. First of all, the architect and photographer Antonio Ottomanelli, who can be considered our teacher. He has formed us politically and culturally – to life rather than to practice. The curator Catherine Molteni, Tamar Shafrir, Rossella Farinotti and Lucia Tozzi with whom we constantly confront ourselves.