Underwear Un-mappable Zones


Un-mappable zones for a de-colonisation of space and mind.
Moving towards a new way to understand these spaces.

From the fifteenth to the nineteenth century the historical gardens of Florence and the surrounding countryside were theatrical spaces for the entertainment and delight of the guests of high society Florentine hosts. They were a fantasy land where nature and technology blended to create a symbolic journey that introduced the visitors to the host’s philosophic ideas. There were artificial grottoes, water tricks, statues and automatons. The gardens were continually transformed to provide an ever-changing spectacle of surprises, wonders, astonishment and beauty. They served as theatrical scenery for actors, musicians, acrobats and fire jugglers, who performed amid fireworks, fountains and water spectacles of every kind. In the Demidoff garden, for example, there was an entire underground system that moved the automatons and controlled the water spectacles above ground.

Mass tourism now has access to these historical gardens, which they treat as just another outing, visiting them briefly, without considering their historical context. Organised tours transport coach loads of tourists from one city to another, stopping briefly to visit the major sites, including some of the historic gardens, which have now become unchanging, static places. People wander about in the gardens without any idea of their spectacular past.

This project will seek to reactivate the parks through performances. Performers will dialogue with the garden spaces, bringing them to life in new ways and altering our perceptions of them. The performers will learn to live with all their senses within the environment, reading the place in a different way and reactivating the slumbering marvels of the historic gardens. 

© Robert Pettena 2022