A status symbol with a powerful image and a true union of technology and creativity, during the twentieth century the motorcycle represented one of the spearheads of the fine Italian manufacturing. Now it becomes the protagonist of a spectacular exhibition held in Forte Marghera, between Venice and Mestre.
‘Motocicletta/10HP/Tutta cromata/E’ tua se dici sì’ sang the great Lucio Battisti in a famous song punctuated by the rhythm of the acoustic guitar written by Mogol, in a song that became the anthem for an entire generation. But there are dozens and dozens of references to ‘bikes’ in all fields, and naturally so as it is one of the most curious and attractive symbols of twentieth-century design. Just think of cinema. From ‘Easy Rider’, the famous 1969 film, directed by and starring Dennis Hopper, with Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson, set in the cultural context of ’68 and representing a real ‘manifesto’ of the counter-culture and desire for escape and freedom, and Audrey Hepburn-Gregory Peck’s ride on a lambretta in ‘Roman Holiday’, a 1953 masterpiece by William Wyler, which made the Piaggio Vespa famous all over the world. A motorbike also stars in ‘The Great Escape’, a 1963 film set during the Second World War, in which a young Steve McQueen, ‘mythologised’ twenty years later by another protagonist of Italian music, Vasco Rossi, becomes the protagonist of a ruinous fall at the fortified border between Germany and Switzerland. And from more recent times, the Vespa returns to star in the films of Nanni Moretti, as he ‘wanders’ up and down the hills of Rome on his scooter, while, in ’The motorbike diaries’, a Norton 500 M18 of 1939 dubbed “la Poderosa”, ‘recounts’ the deeds of the legendary Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, a character who has himself become a legend.
In short, the motorcycle is an impressive phenomenon of popular custom, and one that was well worthy of celebration.
Thus, in an evocative pavilion space made available by the City of Venice in the nineteenth-century architectural complex of Forte Marghera (a fortress located on the Venetian mainland a few steps from the lagoon, built and used by the Austrians, and incorporating the old village of Margera , but also by the Napoleonic troops and then by the Kingdom of Italy) throughout the summer, until 28 October, 2018, it will be possible to admire the ‘Motocicletta. The architecture of speed’ exhibition organised by the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia and curated by Marco Riccardi, former director of the Motociclismo magazine, under the scientific direction of Gabriella Belli, director of the Fondazione Muve.
Conceived with a knowledgeable and captivating approach, with a mix of passion, technology and design that goes well with the nearby pavilion of the Architecture Biennale, the exhibition presents 41 motorcycles and scooters divided into eight sections – Scooter, Electric, Sport, Heritage, In Africa, Fundamental motorcycles, Artists’ works, Bold and refined – conceived as a run through the most famous aerodynamic shapes of Italian motorcycling (with some incursions into foreign fields). We are thus treated to a fresh and unusual vision of scooters, like the American Salsbury, sports bikes of yesteryear and today like the masterpieces from Ducati and Aprilia, historic Grand Prix bikes like the four-cylinder Gilera 500 or the Moto Guzzi 8 cylinder of 1957, which models won world titles and represent the stuff of legend of the genius of Italian designers. Plus visitors can see the latest technical trends such as the electric sports bikes from Energica which from next year will be used to compete on the same courses as the Motorbike GP. The show continues with real ‘milestones’ in the history of the motorcycle, such as the Honda CB750, the Japanese four-cylinder bike that revolutionised the very concept of sports motorcycle in 1969, or unique items such as the Aprilia Motò by the guru of design Philippe Starck and the new Lama scooter from the same French designer’s pencil. Then there are the ‘monumental’ pieces, like the German Mars and Megola of 1924, the latter with a radial engine in the front wheel, or the huge Böhmerland built from 1926 to 1938 in the Czech Republic: a three-metre-long motorcycle. There is also an overview of the great Enduro bikes that crossed Africa to become the favourite bikes of long-distance tourers. In addition to these extraordinary pieces, there are also two “sculptures”, symbol of speed and technology. The first is an installation in white Carrara marble, designed by the Ducati Style Centre and inspired by one of the most sporting Ducati models, the ‘Panigale’, whose title – “Fortitudo mea in levitate”, literally “My strength lies in lightness” – evokes the stark contrast with the massive stone itself. The other comes from Aprilia and was made by Marco Lambri, head of design for the Piaggio group: in this case too, the slender structure that embraces the 1,000 cc four-cylinder engine for the Aprilia super-sports bikes aims to highlight the concept of lightness. The exhibition also hosts a space surveying the safety of motorcyclists and scooter riders. This is the “Self-protection is self-evident” campaign run by Motociclismo magazine, supported by major companies in the clothing sector, to encourage the use of certified protective garments.
Via Forte Marghera, 30
30173 Mestre (Venezia)
9 June — 28 October 2018
Open from 3 pm to 10 pm, Tuesday to Sunday. Closed Mondays
Special visits for special people by prior reservation: conversations with the “Time Slips” approach, for small groups of a maximum of six people with their caregivers