“(T)rap&Architecture” will be a digital talk that will see Bianca Felicori, curator of the entire project, discussing with Frah Quintale, Rkomi and The Night Skinny and reflecting on issues related to the city of Milan, the evolution that it has had over the years and how it will be in the future, but also on the deep bond that has always united the genres of trap and rap and the urban context. Topics already well known to the curator.
Architect, researcher and author for several Italian newspapers, Bianca Felicori in 2019 gives life to “Forgotten Architecture”, a platform where the focus is on lesser-known architecture around the world. In a short time, this project turns into a real archive of almost forgotten but always fascinating places, which has become a main resource for her independent works and collaborations.
At the same time, his research focuses on the relationship between architecture and other disciplines, first and foremost rap and trap music.
As well as exploring this theme, the talk also offers the possibility of discovering or rediscovering places in the city of Milan, from the suburbs to the central districts, both through the stories of Frah Quintale, Rkomi and The Night Skinny, but above all thanks to photographic and video documentation created specifically for the event.
The lens of Marco Aurelio Mendia, a photographer who has always been attracted to the urban landscape, and the camera of Van Khokhlov, a filmmaker specialising in advertising, followed the three protagonists to some of Milan’s iconic locations, where architecture is the main feature and characterises areas and neighbourhoods.
Curious to know how a project like “(T)rap&Architecture” is born, we asked Bianca Felicori a couple of questions, and to prepare ourselves even better for the event on Friday 16, we asked Marco Mendia and Van Khokhlov to explain some aspects of their work.
How did you start your research project and what made you particularly passionate about the relationship between architecture and rap and trap music?
There are many reasons why I started this research project, but if we want to be concise we can say that it perfectly combines who I was and who I am into a single theme. When I was very young (eleven years old more or less) I started to approach Italian rap and then American hip hop (a reverse path, in short). Being born in Bologna, I felt very close to the scene of my city, at the time dominated by PMC-Porzione Massiccia Crew, but I also followed the Milanese and Roman scene in particular. Growing up and enrolling in high school, I realised how paternalistic an attitude towards this culture and its derivations really was. There was a sort of classist view and it was considered as a musical genre only suitable for those who lived in socially marginalised contexts. Which is absurd to think about today. Over the years, after enrolling in the faculty of architecture in Milan, I developed a personal awareness of the subject, I grew up and realised how much part of my cultural background could be read in relation to what I had become, an architect, a researcher and an author. This is where my interest in architecture used as a background in music videos was born and developed over time, becoming a pretext for establishing a political, anthropological and social debate on the city and our culture.
Why do you think it is important to pursue this discourse and what feedback have you received from those who have followed you so far?
I am privileged, the daughter of people who have built themselves up ‘from scratch’ as professionals and as parents. I am proud of the hard work they have done to achieve certain goals. The theme of social redemption is central for me today and is also central to this project. I believe that, in addition to the interest aroused by the idea of bringing a transdisciplinary experiment of this kind into a context such as the Triennale Milano, many of the people interested in the project also subscribe to the founding idea that I always try to make explicit. Moreover, this project will allow the artists’ audience to be reached and involved in a cultural environment. Vice versa, the artists will have the opportunity to read their work in relation to urban and architectural themes that are often considered disconnected from their reality.
MARCO AURELIO MENDIA
The architecture and landscape of the city are not unknown subjects to you. In fact, for years your artistic research has been based on street photography and exploration of the metropolis, starting from the world of graffiti artists and moving on to photographing from the rooftops and capturing the city’s skylines. Trap&Architecture focuses on the relationship between Milan’s architecture and music, how is this link reflected in your shots?
You could say that the projects are more similar than they seem, graffiti and urban exploration. The question I asked myself during the research is whether it is the person who exploits and contaminates his surroundings or the architecture itself that influences the person who exploits the corner of the city he is most attached to and grew up in. Personally, I think it’s a good mix: for example, some of the stories told through music are about the contexts in which the artists grew up, which inspired them, which contributed to their personal growth.My interest has always been to tell this subtle connection between man and urban context, whether it’s graffiti in underground tunnels, or rooftops overlooking skylines. It has always fascinated me to see how aseptic concrete can become a container for ideas and a source of inspiration on a multidisciplinary level.
What are the most difficult elements to calibrate and study in order to create shots in which the protagonist is as important as the surrounding environment?
Certainly in the design phase, that of combining two different languages, trying to tell the story of these architectural elements in the right way and giving the subject a voice.
Then in the realisation of the content, of the shots, it was very natural. I found a strong synergy between the selected places and the artists, just like a tailor-made photographic backdrop.
Your work as a filmmaker started with your passion for skateboarding and then specialised in adverstising, especially in the world of fashion. Trap&Architecture, on the other hand, is a project that combines architecture and music, how did you approach this work? What was it like working with Frah Quintale, Rkomi and The Night Skinny?
I’ve always been fascinated by architecture, ever since I was a skate filmmaker. We would go everywhere, most of the time on the street, and you would find buildings with absurd constructions. In this project I found the me of those years and it was cool to put it all together. With Frah and the other guys there was an immediate understanding, many of them come from the same background as me and we understood each other immediately.
How did you manage to create a work in which the focus is on architecture without taking away space from the three protagonists?
Generally, you have to remember to insert the figures carefully into the architectural spaces: all you need is a little bit of handwork and the basics of composition. The rest is pure taste and imagination.