The Archivio dello Spazio (“Archive of Space”) is ‘the Bible of Italian photography’.
It was created as part of the Architectural and Environmental Heritage Project of the Province of Milan, which set out to survey and catalogue the assets present in the province with the aim of promoting the understanding and exploitation of the historical and environmental heritage and guiding initiatives for the preservation and restoration of those assets, under the coordination of the architect Achille Sacconi.
Owing to its duration (ten years), the number of photographers involved (fifty-eight, among them: Gabriele Basilico, Vincenzo Castella, Giovanni Chiaramonte, Mario Cresci, Paola De Pietri, Luigi Ghirri, Guido Guidi, Mimmo Jodice) and its methodological rigor, educational impact and broad range of collateral initiatives (around sixty meetings, debates and conferences with Italian and European operators, dozens of solo exhibitions and four major joint exhibitions), the program marked a historic watershed in the development of Italian photography.
The Archivio dello Spazio is a vast research laboratory covering many different themes: the attention paid to the architectural and environmental heritage, confronted photographically with the reality of the industrial and postindustrial landscape and the freedom of approach left to the photographers. The commitment to taking on board and rendering productive an interest in the changes in the contemporary landscape that was felt very keenly in Italy and the rest of Europe from the early 1980s onward (we cite, in this connection, just two examples: Luigi Ghirri’s famous project Viaggio in Italia, 1984, which laid the foundations for new ways of approaching the complex Italian landscape that dispensed with the stereotypes of the Bel Paese, and the Mission Photographique de la D.A.T.A.R., a major project of commission undertaken by the French state in 1984). It has been an extremely rare experience in Italian culture, which has always had an episodic and fragmentary character.
The Archivio dello Spazio has been discussed and documented in various publications, of which the most important is: 1987-1997 Archivio dello Spazio. Dieci anni di fotografia italiana sul territorio della provincia di Milano, edited by Achille Sacconi and Roberta Valtorta (Udine: Art&, 1998).