As part of the project’s ongoing research, I conducted a number of interviews with those involved in order to shed light on Space Electronic’s history. Together, these shed light on what it was like to go to the disco in the 1960s and 1970s, the larger context of Florence and Radical Architecture, and the current condition of both these, and Space Electronic, today.
Interview with Gianna Scoino, 22nd May 2014
Gianna Scoino is an artist who lives and works in Florence. A painting student in Florence in the late 1960s and early 1970s at the Accademia di Belle Arti, where she would later teach until 2012, Gianna visited Space Electronic and participated in the S-Space (School for Expanded Conceptual Architecture). Nationally and internationally exhibited from the 1970s, in the 1980s Gianna also begin investigating the area of design and collaborating with architects including former Superstudio member Adolfo Natalini.
What were you doing in Florence in the late 1960s and early seventies?
Between 1969 and 1973 I was a student at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence, from where I graduated in painting.
What was the artistic, social and political atmosphere in Florence at this time?
From the end of the sixties and throughout the 1970s there was a real social and artistic ferment in Florence, which was even orientated towards the international contemporary [scene]. I remember helping in the first experiments in video art with the then young artist Bill Viola in a tiny space/studio, whose name I can’t remember, on via Ricasoli. I remember that the Galleria SKEMA, at that time on via Ghibellina, was the main point of reference for contemporary art, where it was possible to see the work of well-known, international artists and take part in the first Body Art performances, by artists such as Gina Pane and Urs Luethi.
Even in other public Florentine buildings, [such as] Palazzo Vecchio, the Antico Granaio di Orsanmichele, Forte Belvedere etc., up to the end of the 1980s you could see exhibitions of artists of an international standing.
All this pointed towards a future of great cultural standing for Florence on an international level, which then didn’t happen. Florence continues even now to be only know for its illustrious greatpast.
Were you in contact with the Radical Architects such as Superstudio, Archizoom and Gruppo 9999?
I wasn’t in direct contact with the Radical architects, but I followed them and knew the work they made and promoted, being interested as I was in every type of cultural Florentine activity. Over the subsequent years I had the opportunity to get to know some of the individuals from these groups, such as [Alessandro] Mendini, [Adolfo] Natalini, [Lapo] Binazzi, [Cristiano] Toraldo di Francia, due to my work.
Why did you first start going to Space Electronic – how did it compare to what existed before in Florence?
I don’t remember exactly the reason why I started to go to Space Electronic, but as a young artist I certainly took part in the performances, as you can see in the photos in which you can see my involvement. Even then I wasn’t interested in discotheques, but Space Electronic was a different place, an avant-garde place both in musical and artistic terms and for Florence a new and exciting possibility to encounter and exchange cultural ideas.
Can you tell us about your involvement in the S-Space (School for Expanded Conceptual Architecture)?
I don’t remember.
What was the effect of your experiences at Space Electronic, or in Florence in general in the 1960s and 1970s, on your subsequent work?
I wouldn’t know how to quantify the effect of my experiences at Space with regards to the work that I’ve done since then.
Do you think that the utopian energy and experimental spirit of the 1960s still exists in Italy? Or what has happened to the ideas and hope of your youth?
I believe that the utopian energy and experimental spirit of those years no longer exists in Italy, or at least in that form. I mainly remember the collaborative and participatory spirit that existed then between artists of every discipline. It was normal to attend university and therefore to have the contamination and diffusion of ideas and projects. I think that all this has been lost, at least in the way as it was then, and especially in Florence.
Finally, have you ever been to Space since the 1970s? Do you still go?
I’ve never been to Space Electronic since the 1970s. The place started to change and completed transformed into ‘just a discotheque’ and it was no longer of interest to me.
Interview conducted via email between Gianna Scoino and Cat Rossi, 22nd May 2014. Translation by Cat Rossi.