Time before and after work, domestic activities, sleeping and eating, attending school or sports courses, this period of time – that remains beyond the obligations and necessary activities – is what we commonly call free time.

Free time once was a place of mind in which you could do other things rather than work, in contemporary society it became atomized: it is spread everywhere, a sporadic time that runs parallel to work. Being continuously available by smartphones and tablets, the work enters subtly in the sphere of free time too. Leisure is no longer the oasis of rest without thoughts. On the contrary, time has often turned into something about thoughts, about the story of oneself, about the construction of identities.

The invention of free time is relatively recent. It affects the affluent and changing society, and its relations with consumption. Leisure is illusory and instead the economic and social forces take over individual free time and sell it to each of us like they were goods.

Today, free time shows all its “ambiguity” and “ambivalence”. On the one hand, an opportunity for personal fulfillment and social participation, on the other hand the source of alienation and dissipation. For these reasons man is looking for an authentic relationship with nature and the landscape in which he lives and where he develops a strong sense of belonging. When it is not possible to have nature, he seeks its iconographic representation, re-invented from time to time, redesigned, reconfigured. These anonymous or peculiar places, true or recreated, speak about our habits, about our desires, about the dreams of our society.

Shelters in which stopping and doing nothing. Thinking about nothing. Just listening to the passage of time.

In Landscape Stories n. 28, April 2018.