New York Arts in Italy

La cultura italiana. Recensioni di mostri, concerti, l’opera, ed altri destinazioni culturali in Italia.
Italy in the Berkshire Review: reviews of exhibitions, concerts, opera, theater, and other cultural destinations in Italy.

Leonard Freed e L’Italia: L’elemento del tempo

“There is a mathematical grid in the photograph. There is a rhythm.” (1) Nel rileggere un’intervista rilasciata da Leonard Freed a Nathalie Herschdorfer (2), la mia attenzione si sofferma sulla considerazione che Freed fa rispetto alla connessione tra le sue fotografie ed il tempo: “The thing is I am trying to get into my photographs the element of time” (3). Parole che generano in me una serie di osservazioni in relazione al progetto di immagini italiane al quale proverò a introdurvi nelle pagine seguenti.

Dalle interviste e dalle opere di Leonard Freed, emerge come dato di fatto che fu un uomo di poche parole. (4) Sfogliando poi, alcuni dei diari che scrisse durante i numerosi viaggi che lo portarono in Italia tra il 1999 e il 2005 si accredita definitivamente questa teoria. Le considerazioni di Leonard Freed sono sempre coincise, dirette, ironiche e denotano tutta la finezza di osservazione che il suo sguardo ha saputo racchiudere nelle immagini da lui realizzate. Oltre che nei suoi diari di viaggio, che spesso sono delle note, atte a ricordare nomi, incontri, date e conversazioni, il tempo, Leonard Freed, lo ha racchiuso nelle sue fotografie. Interessante, al riguardo, prendere in considerazione alcuni dei bozzetti che disegnò di suo pugno per l’impaginazione del libro su Roma, progetto che per molti anni ha sognato di portare a termine. Mettendo questi in relazione con i provini a contatto stampati e archiviati in ordine cronologico, emerge immediatamente un fattore di rilievo: il progetto editoriale che Leonard Freed aveva intenzione di realizzare aveva come idea di base quella di impostare le immagini secondo la sequenza temporale in cui erano state scattate. Ecco allora che la fotografia diviene diario, narrazione del tempo, scheletro e corpo dei numerosi viaggi e rende al lettore una cronologia appartenuta intimamente all’autore.

Leonard Freed and Italy: The Element of Time

“There is a mathematical grid in the photograph. There is a rhythm.”1

While reading an interview between Leonard Freed and Nathalie Herschdorfer,2 my attention was caught by a comment Freed made on the connection between his photos and time: “The thing I am trying to get into my photographs is the element of time.”3 These words sparked in me a succession of observations on the Italian Images Project, which I will present in the following paragraphs.

Vasari, gli Uffizi e il Duca

Before entering this exhibition, take the time to examine the building that houses it. Study its façade at close range and from the opposite bank of the Arno. Contemplate its severe, stately economy. Notice the columns that seem to support more weight than they should. Allow your eye to scan the stretch of monolithic architraves, the repetitious ordering of portals. Only then will you begin to appreciate that the core of this exhibit is not in the Uffizi, it is the Uffizi.

Vasari’s 500th Birthday: The Battle of Anghiari

It’s not a matter of deciding whether to celebrate Giorgio Vasari’s 500th birthday, but where to start. The author of the Vite de’ più eccellenti Pittori, Scultori e Architettori traversed the entire Italian peninsula researching his literary masterpiece, so there are many possibilities. Perhaps the most appropriate site is the Florentine Palazzo Vecchio, for it was there that Vasari made a triumphal return after two of his staunchest supporters in the city were murdered in 1530. Not until Duke Cosimo I invited him back in 1554 to decorate apartments begun by Battista del Tasso was Vasari vindicated. In typical fashion, he immediately altered Tasso’s plans, raising the ceilings to make room for imaginative frescoes based on the plan of humanist scholar Cosimo Bartoli. With the help of an eager crew of collaborators, Vasari completed the project in less than three years.

First Cittaslow badge in North America goes to Cowichan Bay.

The slow food movement is on the move with the branding of Canada’s Cowichan Bay as the first “Cittaslow” community in North America. The Italian organisers, with scores of locations badged in Europe, intend to authorise the brand in many more places on this side of the Atlantic. The quaint fishing village on Vancouver Island at the confluence of the salmon-bearing Koksilah and Cowichan rivers has all the required ingredients: a convivial community in a pleasing setting, with behind it an array of small farms producing everything from wine to organic bread grains. Could your community be next? (1) In Cowichan Bay village local residents crowded into Bruce Stewart’s picturesque True Grain organic bakery to sign up for the slow-food movement and give the branding application a rousing send-off. Back in Orvieto, north of Rome, the sages examined the evidence, weighed up the issues, and granted Cittaslow status. So now, you can add to famous names like Lucca (Cittaslow Tuscany) and Alassio (Cittaslow Liguria) the name of Cowichan Bay.

Riccardo III by William Shakespeare, directed by Marco Carniti – until September 18, Silvano Toti Globe Theatre, Rome

The Empire has gone Elizabethan. Built in 2003, the Silvano Toti Globe Theatre threatens to trump even the Baths of Caracalla (the city’s open-air opera house) as the cultural center point of Rome in the sweltering summer months. This season, the company cooked up an ambitious program including La tempesta (The Tempest), Pene d’amor perdute (Love’s Labour’s Lost), Sogno di una notte di mezza estate (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Dodicesima notte (Twelfth Night), and now closing with Riccardo III (Richard III). Don’t be scared by the foreign language. Even if you’ve read the play only once or twice, you’ll have no problem following the action (though rudimentary Italian will help). In fact, maximal accuracy was not the overriding concern for translator Enrico Groppali and director Marco Carniti. They rather aimed for superb drama and a strict fidelity to the plot. The result is an authentic, barely abridged Richard III (running over four hours) showing greater erudition and ingenuity than many productions in the original English.

Picasso, Miró, Dalí. Angry Young Men/Giovani e arrabbiati: la nascita della modernità, Palazzo Strozzi, Firenze. Closes July 17th.

The latest exhibition at the Strozzi Palace is a walk back through time to the roots of modern painting. It retells the sad tale of three “angry men” culminating in an alleged meeting between Dalí and Picasso in 1926. Barely twenty-two years old, Dalí had come to Paris with his mother and sister. Upon entering Picasso’s studio, he exclaimed: “Master, I just arrived in Paris and have come to see you before heading for the Louvre.” The episode completed a series of encounters between Miró, Dalí, and Picasso while each was striving to invent a new visual language by contemplating the work of the other two.

Production Notes: Woody Allen’s Bop Decameron in Rome

Woody Allen is in Rome shooting his latest production, The Bop Decameron. Italian newspapers have been brimming with “Where’s Woody?” stories, and tourists and citizens have been tweeting their sightings. Woody is very popular in Italy and while this is his first Rome-set picture, he has been a frequent visitor in the past with his New Orleans jazz band.

in tow.

The Bop Decameron will be structured into four vignettes, two of which will be in Italian. Yesterday, Woody shot at Piazza Mattei with a predominantly Italian cast and crew. Jim Jarmusch used the same location in the Rome segment of Night on Earth, starring Roberto Benigni, who is also signed on for The Bop. Other cast members include: Penélope Cruz, Alec Baldwin, Ellen Page, Jesse Eisenberg, and Woody Allen himself.

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