The Monditalia is physically organized along the Cartesian grid mapped onto a macroscopic representation of the so-called Peutinger table, the massive map of the fifth century AD that showed the cursus publicus (road network) of the Roman Empire. Placed in the middle of the exhibition and written on the floor, the map is the visitors’ guide, to the case studies on the left and films to the right. The sections, organized by latitude from the south to the Alps in the north, are characterized by the presence of case studies, not necessarily architectural, and films that correspond geographically to the latitude lines. Each was chosen with the intention of reflecting upon the places and the studies to which they correspond. The curators’ approach to the exhibition is explained by Ippolito Pastellini as “a very extended network of relations” interested in giving “a spective representation” that focuses on both research and documentation—an “interdisciplinary and transversal experiment,” branded proudly as the “first one” in the Biennale history. Being the first is still in, despite Koolhaas’s supposedly nonchalant approach.
By approaching this multilayered territory, Italy, you are invited into completely different conditions as you move from one coordinate to another. The case studies were developed with the help of forty-one researchers, between thirty and forty years of age, to interpret Italy within many different points of view. The discussion of political monuments and controversial political cases, for example, the small island of La Maddalena (41°12′53″N/09°24′21″E), a study by Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine, where the G8 summit in 2009 was planned and built into a huge complex but never used is presented with a contrasting parallel story from the nearby island of Budelli in which the island’s sole occupant, Mauro Morandi, “a Robinson Crusoe of the XXI century,” is interviewed. Other case studies present the landscape of great cultural relevance, from studies of the vernacular to modernist architecture.