“When you get to the front of Sant’Ambrogio sacristy, on your left you’ll find an anonymous and incongruous roman column, where it seems the devil hit his hear or, rather, his horns. Some people maintain that from that moment onward there has been a special open channel between the city of the golden madonnina and the underworld…”
Get a crime writer, Luca Steffenoni, attracted by the dark side of the city. And get an art historian, Manuela Alessandra Filippi, able to value Milan’s artistic and historical beauty.
Put the cinical Milanese crime fiend together with the posivitive globetrotter who turned art into a job. Put this man and this woman together and you’ll get a book called “Psycho Maps. Two Hikers Lost Amidst Art and Milanese Crimes” (published by Adagio). Through the pages the two authors talk to eachother trying to give Milano an identity.
Beauty and ugliness, yin and yang, masculine and feminine, light and shade, two alternating viewpoints, at times arguing, in humorous controversy, odd-couple style all to find a way to retell Milano. The motto is controversy. Life and death unwind through the busy streets of this Lombard city giving us humanity and artistic inheritance. At stake is a path that randomly goes from the city center outward. Art and crime share that randomness. Both are anarchic.
Crime hits shamelessly in bourgeois buildings, it infiltrates the working class and then comes out again, unexpected a few kilometers away, in a park close to a gas station, adjacent to a parking lot. Crime doesn’t care about good manners and time. It hits among nineteenth century carriages, it roams around the Reconstruction or through demonstrations post 1960s to finally land in our contemporary tired metropolis. No respect whatsoever for history and its constituted chronological order.
Art thrives where it can. It exploits the foundations of others. It resists to pilliage, attack, bombing, greedy developers’ exploitation, incompetence, ignorance and indifference. And so art and crime often find each other side by side, together lonely. Palazzo degli Omenoni, for example, has a history of crime, madness and beauty. Palazzo Marino’s history seems a noir. Palazzo Belgioioso, out of the eighteenth century, was where they found Raul Gardini’s cadaver. The Montenapoleone’s Dark Ladies, De Fabritis’ shooting in front of La Scala, The Mystery Cloister at Università Cattolica…
The whole city is a layering of concrete, blood and art. Love and death anecdotes worth retelling during a walk in comfortable shoes, free from cultural stereotypes as the authors do. In the nooks and crevices of Psycho Maps there also are those people and places coming from the cultural underground we all take from.
Who can’t remember CT? Carlo Torrighelli, the first surreal city writer who in the 70s used sidewalks and walls of the city center for his proclamations. And who has seen the great bric-à-brac wunderkammer by Emilio Mangini? art lover tycoon, off-shore champion, comedy writer, collector of 3700 pieces, such as armors, watches, sticks, antiques clothing, china, magic lanterns and worship pieces all left in inheritance to the city of Milan.
This is more than a book on Milan. The Lombard metropolis is a set for a kaleidoscope of anecdotes purposedly mixed to a human jam session, a magnifying lense which lets us see neurosis and contraddictions typical of big cities.
» The book can be bought at Amazon