Paolo Soleri (USA, 2010)


In July 2010, during a trip in the Southwest USA working on images for my VIERI BOTTAZZINI FINE ART PRINTS business, I set some time aside to visit Arcosanti & Cosanti for what turned to be one of the late Paolo Soleri last interviews, if not his very last (Paolo Soleri, June 21, 1919 – April 9, 2013).

Architect, visionary, philosopher, utopian, humanist, Soleri was ahead of his time when he started designing his utopian cities, decades ago. He was one of the first to worry both about mankind’s impact on the planet in terms of the wasting of resources and, in social terms, about the alienation that the traditional urban model was creating. As such, the influence of his thinking is still felt today.

The Faroe Islands Photography Workshop

Aged 91 at the time, Soleri was very unassuming and easy going when he received me in the scorching Arizona heat, unshaven and in his open shirt. After sitting in the shade of his Cosanti residence’s gardens, we started talking about his vision. Together we delved into topics ranging from the basis of his philosophy to the impact of the recent, extremely fast, technological developments upon it.

Soleri candidly answered all my questions, dedicating me much longer than the promised 20 minutes. Our dialogue proceeded jumping from English to Italian whenever one was easier than the other for him to express his thoughts and ideas.

The interview turned out to be a very interesting conversation with a very interesting man, one with very distinctive and personal ideas and – whether you share his vision or not – a man with strong beliefs, someone who lived all his life uncompromisingly pursuing what he believed in.

The full interview, very unfortunately, is still unpublished. Sadly, all the architectural magazines I approached either flat out told me they weren’t interested in Soleri or told me they were very interested but expected to have the interview and the images for free.

Since they don’t seem to be giving away their magazines for free, I don’t see why they would expect other people to do so with their work. Of course, I flatly refused. Please see my TURNING DOWN UNDERPAID PHOTOGRAPHY WORK article for my detailed thoughts on this matter.  I hope that in time the figure of this visionary man will enjoy again the interest he deserves. Until then, I will treasure what is one of Paolo Soleri’s last interview, if not his very last.

The interview is available in English, Italian and Turkish, and comes with around 30 images. If you are interested in publishing it, please CONTACT ME for arrangements.

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