Robert Gerard PietruskoCadence San Vittorino
With broad, lingering strokes of the camera, Robert Gerard Pietrusko introduces us to the slow decay of San Vittorino, a church in the hills of the Sabina region northeast of Rome. Originally dedicated to an early Christian martyr and later reconsecrated to the Virgin Mary, the church was built on marshy land that eventually gave way, possibly due to an earthquake that struck the region in 1703. Today it is the quintessential ruin, a heavy structure sinking down into the river that courses through what was once its nave.
Along with panoramic views of the scene, Pietrusko offers us close-ups of the play between stone, water, and foliage. Sometimes it is hard to tell just what it is that we are looking at, as organic forms meld and merge, pushing back against our larger sense of time: should we focus on the momentary play of leaves on water; the stream that cuts away at the structure on the timescale of human history; or the long view that situates San Vittorino in a chronology of geologic scale? Stone is stone, after all, whether naturally lodged in the earth or piled up in a heap of hewn blocks. From this perspective, the erosion of the church is less a ruin than a basic, elemental fact of nature.
Pietrusko began filming Cadence San Vittorino in the spring of 2021 while a Fellow at the American Academy. In keeping with the multiple timescales embodied in his work, he intends to return regularly to the site to trace its ongoing transformation. (ER)
About the artist
Born in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and now based in Brooklyn, Robert Gerard Pietrusko is an architect, composer, and educator. His work—undertaken through his studio, Warning Office—explores the history and speculative design potential of environmental media. He has exhibited in more than fifteen countries at venues such as the Centre Pompidou, Museum of Modern Art, and Venice Biennale, and his work is in the permanent collection of the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain. Recordings of his compositions and sound art have been released by the imprints ROOM40 and LINE.
Pietrusko’s educational background reflects the transdisciplinary approach found in his work: he studied music at the Berklee College of Music, engineering at Villanova University, and architecture at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. Professionally, Pietrusko was a junior architect with Diller Scofidio + Renfro in New York before starting his academic career. He held research positions at the New School and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, before joining the faculty at Harvard University in 2012. Beginning as a senior lecturer, he ultimately achieved the rank of associate professor of architecture and landscape architecture. While at Harvard, he cofounded the MetaLAB@Harvard, a design research group that was instrumental in defining the then-nascent field of digital humanities. In 2022, he joined the faculty of the Weitzman School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania where he is currently an associate professor of landscape architecture. Pietrusko was the 2021 Garden Club of America Rome Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Rome.