BEAUTOPIA - A Story
Claudio Colla, Matteo Ghidoni, Andrea Petrecca, Antonio Scarponi, Martino Tattara, Fabio Vanin



...despite its exemplary urban structure, designed according to a strict concept of welfare, the crime figures increased constantly. The authorities, unable to understand the reasons for this phenomenon, felt that they had to take harsh steps. The town’s prison was already overcrowded and its structures were unsatisfactory to accept the new waves of inmates forecast. The prison hill seemed to become the only cancerous place in the town. Its metastases threatened the vision of a collectivism that up to now was so united, destroyed the belief in a diligently created urban organism.
Already total groups of the population showed the interest to isolate themselves, they fled from the inner city which were in the neighbourhood of the prison and once were considered the most secure for its vicinity to this majestic monument of law and order. Victims of a common and widespread sentiment of thread (which was hitherto without motivation) the first inhabitants started moving towards the town’s outskirts and at the same time were more and more suspicious towards their neighbours.

A NEW PRISON WAS CONSTRUCTED
It was an identical copy of the old one; at present the authorities did not possess a different model. No one, except the architect, knew that the identical reproductions in fibreglass of the facades of the eighteenth century and the surrounding fences were just scenery. Like sets in high-class western films they made believe that there existed an internal disciplinary organisation, which in reality not existed. As it was a high security prison, the new complex was off limits to outside visitors, and this helped to keep its secret. The whole landscape if Prison Hill, beyond the buildings was reproduced. Not on an island, as would have been logical, but in a different central part of the town. The islands were as a matter of fact the preferred destinations of the fugitive inhabitants, whereas on the new hill (the eighth of the town) dominated the symbol /the fetish of law and order regained in the neuralgic heart of the community. The hill, totally fenced and isolated, could, however, been observed only from a certain distance.


Chapter 1: The Dream

Life in town went on like every day, without great disturbance. The dim winter light determined the hours of activity and life: shopping at the market, playing at school, visits to friends. For some time, however, as if the inhabitants were living under some strange burden: a dark and silent presence that made everyone move with more care, made everyone stifle the voice and made everyone walk slowly. Everybody knew that some time ago the council of the wise men had commissioned the architect to take care of the old prison, but for months no one knew what would happen.
In the narrowest streets, in the walls of the house and in the darkness in bed the inhabitants imagined and dreamed of the future project, interpreting their wishes and expressing their fears.
There were those, perhaps because they had lived there, that the likelihood of the fibreglass model that was kept in town, that only the harmonious eighteenth century facades would be maintained and that the terrifying prison machinery hiding behind it would be destroyed.
There were those who dreamed, and those were the rich and romantic, that the building would be left as is, abandoned, prey of the wild nature and the time, symbol of past and irretrievable times.
Those more solitary and introvert, however, thought to use the huge building as a support, to append their own house distant from the other, more distant and higher, where they could be isolated and could observe, like modern hermits.
There were those more realistic and pragmatic ones, who thought that they could use the outer shell and fill the inside with new functions, without real using the sad existing spaces, old fashioned and uncomfortable, but only the large walls and pillars as support.
There were those who wanted to cancel any internal trace, make use of the beautiful facades and the healthy structures to transform this blemish into a new place.
The more wise, however, knowing the town’s necessity to put this enormous space to a new use and not wanting to wipe out the memories of this place, thought of a solution which would put a great part of the building to a new use according to necessity and the state of the art and to preserve one part as a memorial that could be observed from a distance and on which one would be able to reflect the past.
It was the architect himself, being, among other things, an expert in programmatic coercion methods, to suggest the panacea for the inhabitants suffering from the syndrome of insecurity and the give them back the faith in the Town.
In a vivid reunion of the council of the wise men, during which one of the older representatives had to be sedated and tied to his seat, he declared that the obsolete programme of the old prison caused the real problem. The old architectural structure could work perfectly, but periods of imprisonment would have to be drastically reduced by introducing a directed and efficient programme of reintegration into society. Having browsed some of Foucault’s writings he recalled that while in a mass society the control through force might work, which in turn would create mass, the new individualistic society could only be controlled by seduction techniques. With a refined semantic outburst – as it can only be created by an architect – he proposed to get away from the mass-age by returning to massage.


Chapter 2: The Beauty Farm

THE CELLS
The dimensions of the prison cells are considerably smaller as those of the prison before the restructuring. They are really isolation cells. The space taken away from the physical mobility is in reality occupied by a diffuse and advanced technological infrastructure, which is inserted entirely into the separating walls between the cells. All the technological apparatus is invisible but its effects are tangible. Even though the vicinity of inmates has not changed, the effect of privacy is surprising. The sounds from the cell next door cannot be heard, the vibrations cannot be felt, odours not be smelt. But the functions of the new capsules are not limited to this, a whole system of ultra violet lights, different temperatures, intoxicating scents is administered to the inmates who are free to move between the cells looking for new psycho sensuous sensations The specialised prison personnel completes the treatment by human contact.

THE SWIMMING POOL
Having been used to the vast connecting corridors between the prison departments, the inmates limited to the smaller walking spaces surrounding the swimming pool, which are crowded by the swimmers lying down to dry themselves after the bath. As they consider them – without any motive – insecure, they frequently prefer to unite forces in a swimming contest or in simple horseplay in the pool even if it is only to move from one cell to another. While swimming it is inevitable that the inmates meet in a lighter way. The shock created by these encounters counter effects the stiffness produces inside the cells.

THE ENCLOSURE
The function of the vast enclosing wall of he ex prison is more illusionary than concrete. It produces a landscape that provides the inmate the illusion that there is some kind of "outside". At the same time this landscape also becomes the unique imagination of the outside shared by the inmates. Its role is, among other things, the creation of the appropriate distance between those inside and those outside. The enclosure includes the park. The park has a function similar to the yard of the old prison, but instead of having to limit themselves to the hour of fresh air a day, they may walk in the park whenever they want. By the fact that they find themselves in that kind of limbo, by some inmates is interpreted as a premium, by others as a punishment, the humour oscillates constantly between those two poles. This frustration suffices to prevent them from escaping, which is demonstrated by the fact that there is no system of control. This condition creates the effect that the new prisoners are no longer classified as inmates but as entertained.


Chapter 3: A Dialogue

" – You are healed; are healthy, finally purified, a different man, definitely accepted. You are ready to start a new life – blah, blah, blah, I can't take it."
"He doesn't do anything but his job. What do you want, that he prescribes a new cure?"
"Don't know I did not feel well. I never really needed a cure, I only wished I could live in a different place for some time."
"Your are going to get out of here. Do you think you're ready?"
"The personal trainer told me to put on this, but only for the first days."
"What's this? Seems to be a helmet to adapt oneself to the atmosphere of another planet."
"In a certain sense it is. It is part of the new outfit. It is an environmental transformer: it shall protect my senses of the excessive reality I shall encounter in the near future."
"You don't seem to be over-enthusiastic."
"To tell the truth, I have been so well here that I'm not sure I want to go away."
"I think you'll miss the massages after swimming."
"Don't be silly. It's the continuation of the beneficial programmes I shall miss the most: it organized my day. Sauna and Turkish bath, ozone therapy and solar shower, acupuncture and aromatherapy. It made me feel happy."
"I don't think you are the only one to be seduced by experiencing the cure. It's comforting, totalising, absolutely individual and at the same time uniting, private, but collective. Somme affectionate guests of the centre, once they are outside, created a committee to propose the construction of new housing in the free spaces near the buildings of the centre. Seems they live in a dependency of the rehabilitation machinery of the cure and that they project on its circumference walls the wish of a form of housing able to re-create the well being experienced in the beauty farm. The wall, which for generations of inmates represented the right distance to be kept from the society, which at the same time reproduced an identical landscape, the only possible for the inmates, now attracts us relentlessly."
"Right."
"….."
"Yesterday, in the changing rooms at the swimming pool, someone came along to suggest I buy a capsule in the new settlements. Might have been an ex-inmate but I have never seen him before. And it's now nearly a year that I am here…"
"And, would you do it?
"What?"
"Would you live in a capsule?"
"No. At least not right now." I think I'm perfectly able to renounce for some days the vicinity of the Beauty Farm."
"You should not be too sure of that. The beauty machinery has worked on you for a long time, slowly, day for day. Up to now you only went out to the garden and, as all of us, only hoped to be able to go back."
"That is – at least – a strange experience."
"I met the architect who designed it: he spent some time in the central block. He told me that when he began designing the external spaces he became quite obsessed with the idea of the capsule and its elaboration."
"That explains the existence of the bubbles. Seems to be the garden of desires… Yes, each bubble includes one, but none is allowed to enter: the only thing you are allowed to do is to continue desiring. To always be confronted with your desires is one of the most severe means of education you may undergo."
"The architect explained to me that the idea of introducing the alterità which nature represents inside the walls was a way to make the individuals undergoing the cure accept the disadvantages caused by the monastic daily life in Beauty Farm."
"But the therapeutic isolation inside the capsules has itself become a wish and – hardly outside – each of us wants to go back inside. … The architect will have tried it himself."
"Really, the only goal of the desire was the only one not shown in the bubbles: it was the voluntary imprisonment. If they would take over the ideas of this Beauty Farm, the totalitarian systems of the future would be servile and obliging, but it is not for that that the locks will be less tight.”
“There is no hope in your words.”
“No… its only that finally we will understand how suffocating it is having become so dedicated to moderation and mediocrity. We are middle-of-the-road: the sub-urbanism of the soul has destroyed our planet, like the plague. We will have to recover, but in order to be able to do so we need the cure: beauty is the only possible salvation. And further, those who are in power are fully aware of that.”


Chapter 4: The Beauty Power

Someone, in the beginning not many, panicked when a slight thickening of the waist became visible and the suntan vanished.
There was something that discomposed rapidly: it was Beauty Power. A power acquired in the production of the new super heroes: the hyper-accepted, the beautiful and attractive, and the absolutely ever-present.
The extreme hedonism transformed rapidly into a form of self-abusive narcissism that suddenly blocked any potential action: The architect of the new society’s plan seemed to have been perfectly successful.
However, the seductive control planned in such way in no time showed an anomaly which proved to show a boomerang effect which would have absolutely to be remedied: Beauty Power created addiction, and like each form of addiction lead to hysteric phenomena in times of abstinence.
Thus those who had got out, those who had become liked and accepted, suffered from convulsive psychosomatic spasms with diffuse muscular pains, could do nothing but constructing a community of desperate isolated persons, nomads of the precarious form of the structures they began to live in, but inevitably and tragically sedentary, attracted by the one and only magnet able to orient the sense of their lives; in no other part of the known world there was a structure able to regenerate for the Beauty Power.
Those poor souls began to colonise the vicinity of Trittico Beauty Farm {also known as TBF] a sort of Bermuda triangle able to swallow the human willpower by rendering happy and beautiful.
For this reason, in an effort to confront an ever-increasing depression, the camp was constructed in a makeshift and spontaneous way, reproducing literally the housing model of the Beauty Farm: each individual tried to reproduce the state of isolation and happiness that within had been a daily experience, living in the welfare-capsules, sharing the radiation of positive energies, which was guaranteed by the profound superficiality of life. A continuous cruise vacation.
In no time the mass creation of the minimal housing units along the impenetrable walls of the Beauty Farm generated a collapse of the infrastructure of the whole settlement on the town’s 7th hill.
The authorities were obliged to develop a strategy to keep out the majority of the ex-guests: the enclosure, the symbol of exclusion and separation, could do nothing but keep out the rehabilitated, for a clear form of adherence to social conventions that the prison could no longer maintain.
The Special Corps of the Beauty Farm’s technicians, the problem solvers, in order to avoid a revolt of the incredibly beautiful, put in operation a metamorphosis of the idea of the enclosure: a technical solution able to transform it into a life stream. The new infrastructure permitted via a simple plug-in to feed the capsules on the hill with energy and to feed new hopes for a second, third or even a fourth salvation to the new pilgrims. The steady influx of the ex-inmates, the movement towards a hypnotic place, towards prison hill created a state of fibrillation amongst the ignorant and honest inhabitants of the perfect town. At first diffident, one of their typical attitudes whenever confronted with something new, then curious and interested in the phenomenon, but treating it with a certain aloofness; finally shocked by the revelation, illuminated by a ray of ultra violet light, and moved by blind faith in Beauty Power, which they had never experienced, they reconsidered their human condition reflected in the new faith.
Finnish sauna and Thai massage became the new aces that designed the icons of the new religion, the Trittico Beauty Farm, up on the hill, the union, which everybody began to aspire.


Chapter 5: The Beauty Park

The Beauty Park became for a short time one of the places where the most interesting people of the town came together to spend some time inside the sauna cells or to swim in the thermal waters of the corridor swimming pools in order to loose some weight even during the cold and dark winter months, intellectuals, artists, entrepreneurs, politicians and ordinary people queued in front of the entrances. After a short while the demands arrived in great numbers.
During the fiercest electoral campaign ever remembered in the town even the President began to regularly show up in an effort to loose some of the fat cellulite cells accumulated over the years.
The results achieved permitted him to be re-elected and the Beauty Farm became the new model for society.
Physical improvement and frequenting beautiful people soon became a vital necessity.
The demands for bookings increased and added up to seemingly never-ending waiting lists. Very soon the hill became the meeting point. The inhabitants began to frequent the hill and practicing the most desperate physical activities. Physical discipline and silence dominated the crowded place and soon created the necessity for a new model for communal life.
Thus an effort was made to extend the spatial discipline that ruled the interior of the Beauty Farm to the surrounding areas. The new social class in power, also known as the Lifting Society financed the realisation of a project that extended the norms of beauty to the whole of the hill: the Beauty Park.
The Beauty Park thus became the new spatial manifesto of the new reigning class that gradually became generally accepted through means of application of power of beauty and physical hygiene.
The model that was applied in those years has now been developed; it has been accepted in all highly developed states. The Lifting Society is the dominating class of the planet and they meet in those new centres of incorporation.
Everything that once was a town and all the waste that was accumulated is now used to exclude the ugly and non-accepted persons, in the extreme effort to make them self-educate themselves and thus re-create the process that paved the way for the first Beauty Park.
In those years, when everything started, a well-known philosopher prophetically called this process of segregation of the old town Uglytopia.