An Ordinary Building

An Ordinary Building

Posted On: September 22, 2006
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On the night of September the 20th 2006 a sign appeared on a building in the center of Viterbo, an ancient city in central Italy, not far from Rome. Apparently put by the City Council it has already caused quite a stir. The sign is in fact an art piece by controversial artist duo Eva and Franco Mattes (aka 0100101110101101.ORG). Looking as official as any other street sign, it reads: “An Ordinary Building.

This building was designed by an unknown architect in an irrelevant epoch and never belonged to an important person. The complex does not show any original architectural solutions, nor does it conserve any important works of art within. No memory is kept of any significant historical events occurring on this site. No known personality was born, lived or died here, nor is any excellent artist or sublime poet still working here.”

Hundreds of unaware passersby have been staring at the sign: “It’s brilliant!” comments an elderly woman “But I have no idea how to interpret it”. While an outraged citizen living nearby comments “This is just unacceptable, look around, there are buildings much worse than this one, especially in the suburbs”.
When asked to give an explanation of the sign, Franco Mattes, currently in New York, declared “It means what it says”.
Italian curator Claudio Zecchi, who commissioned the work, comments: “This piece has a strong provocative nature like all their previous ones. The ideal stage for their art is not the official places where artworks get recognition and celebration like galleries and museums, but the city itself. It is only there that they can obtain the most genuine reaction”.
The artists plan to leave the sign on the building until mid October, but whether or not the City Council and citizens will allow this, is an open question.

“History is not given”, adds Eva Mattes “it has to be constructed, it’s pure fiction, like in a novel”.

The Mattes are not new to this kind of interventions. Over the last decade they drawn worldwide acclaim – and contempt – for producing some of the most paradoxical artworks ever, including staging a hoax involving a completely made-up artist, challenging and defeating Nike Corporation in a legal battle for a fake advertisement campaign and inventing “United We Stand”, a non-existent Hollywood-style blockbuster.