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Articles by: Simona Zecchi

  • Art & Culture

    Alberto Burri. The Multipli at the Italian Cultural Institute of New York

    In conjunction with Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò, a series of Alberto Burri graphic works is being showed at the Italian Cultural Institute. In respect to the exhibit at the Casa, this one stands out for the less aggressive allure, underlining the artist's poetical side.

    On the occasion of the opening on September 24, the director of the Institute Renato Miracco, explained to us how much this event was wanted by both Casa Italiana and the IIC.
    “First of all, the two institutes have been collaborating for years, hosting many artists, as we did for Morandi and Fontana, so we could offer the public different approaches by a same author, trying to bring a complete sense of their works to the United States, so their high importance would be more clear. It’s also a strategic choice concerning the logistic aspect: one institute is Uptown, the other is Downtown, and this is similar to the strategies of other great galleries of the city.

    Furthermore, by hosting the lesser known works by the artist, the public is stimulated by two new and different modalities in two corners of the town.

    My wish, and I believe Casa Italiana’s director Stefano Albertini’s wish as well, is to one day be able to host Burri’s works from the 1950s: we’ll try!”

    The opening took place in a cheerful climate, with the special presence of some official guests such as the Consul  General of Italy in New York Francesco Maria Talò, the founder of the Casa Italiana Baroness Mariuccia Zerilli-Marimò and Stefano Albertini, director of the Casa. Both of them didn’t want to miss this event, specular to the one hosted in her institute.

    The Multipli, collected in a single room on the second floor of the Institute, are distinguished by the constant presence of materials. Although belonging to a similar style, these are single works, having been made in different places one from another.

    An ensemble of shapes obtained on cardboard using some of the painter's favorite colors.

    Antonio Sapone was also present at this inauguration as a representative of the Burri Fundation. He talked about the more human aspect of the artist: his life sheltered from the hue and cry, in his dearest refuge where – although distant from the important artistic centers such as Rome, Venice or Milan – he managed to express himself and find inspiration.

    Concerning the artist’s conception of art, as he himself pointed out, the shape and the space of the materials he used to create these works represent true beauty as he intended it. An homage to life – we could say – container of all shapes.

    (Traslated by Julian Sachs)

  • Art & Culture

    Alberto Burri. Combustions, Black and Whites and Cretti at Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò

    The both homely and institutional air that one could breathe at NYU's Casa Italiana made it possible for everyone to feel equally part of the event.

    Alberto Burri (1915-1995), one of the main avant-garde painters and sculptors of Italy and Europe, created – between the 1940s and ‘90s – a large number of abstract works of art distinguished by innovative technical experimentations.

    The exhibition is divided into two parts, one is on view at the Casa Italiana, while the other, which includes a smaller number of Burri’s graphic works in color, is hosted at the Italian Institute of Culture in New York  and was inaugurated on September 24.

    All the works of art pertain to the artist’s graphic output dating from 1965 to 1994, one year before his death. Both parts of the exhibition will be on view until October 23, 2009. 
     

    Stefano Albertini, director of the Casa Italiana and Professor of Italian Studies at NYU, greeted the guests attending the opening together with Baroness Mariuccia Zerrilli-Marimò, founder of the Casa, Antonio Sapone, a representative of the “Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini Collezione Burri”, and Casa Italiana’s artistic adviser and promoter of the exhibition, Isabella Del Frate. The Burri museum, conceived by the artist, is in his hometown Città di Castello, Umbria.

    Desplayed at the Casa’s main floor, this part of the exhibition consists of three kinds of  graphic works: Combustions, Black and Whites and Cretti. This choice of graphic works underlines Alberto Burri’s artistic innovation. This period is quite different from the artist’s previous one, distinguished by the provocative use of materials such as plastic, wood, tar, jute, iron, etc.

    The works on view at the Casa Italiana bring together not only the artist’s experimentation, but his approach to ‘risk’, as stated by Antonio Sapone (also a childhood friend of Burri’s) through the use of lithography, etching and aquatint.

    Burri’s graphic production is not well known to the public and Antonio Sapone explained that the Foundation wants to promote it starting from New York. Sapone also explained that the artist was very rigorous in the way he created his works of  art and that he always pursued innovation.

    Burri’s “gamble”, as Sapone defined it, consists in the creation of compositions, first carefully studied and drawn, controlling the combustion to obtain the original project. It’s a gamble because it challenges the natural force of the elements: blowing against a flame.

    Burri used the same process for his Cretti. He would use a synthetic material that would become fluid when heated and expand naturally into the platform he had previously prepared.

    Sapone, being close to the artist, was witness of his efforts to achieve the results desidered.

    From risk to rigorous study and practice, Alberto Burri (who had been a prisoner of war in Texas during World War II, where he had begun to paint) seems to enclose every aspect of reality in his artistic production.

    (Translated by Julian Sachs)

  • Burri. Le Combustioni, Bianchi e Neri, e i Cretti alla Casa Italiana della NYU

    Enghish version
    Una vera alchimia, insieme familiare e istituzionale, ha accompagnato in modo particolarmente felice la mostra con le opere di Alberto Burri, inaugurata lo scorso 23 settembre alla Casa italiana della NYU.

     Alberto Burri (1915-1995), pittore e scultore tra i maggiori avant-guardisti italiani ed europei,  dagli anni ’40 fino ai ’90 del Novecento ha sviluppato una serie di opere d’arte astratte il cui filo comune è stato quello della sperimentazione.

    In contemporanea potete vedere altre opere di Burri presso l’Istituto Italiano di Cultura dal 24 settembre. In questo caso si tratta di alcuni esempi della sua produzione a colori.

    Le opere di entrambe le mostre (in esposizione fino al 23 ottobre)  riguardano la produzione grafica dell’artista per un periodo che va dal 1965 al 1994, un anno prima della sua morte.

    Stefano Albertini, direttore della Casa Italiana  e Professore di Studi Italiani alla NYU, in contemporanea con l’inaugurazione del nuovo anno accademico, ha voluto salutare - con la Baronessa Mariuccia Zerilli Marimò -  gli ospiti invitati alla presentazione dell’evento. Con lui la  Fondazione “Palazzo Albizzini Collezione Burri”, rappresentata da Antonio Sapone ed Isabella Del Frate, promoter e consulente artistica della Casa Italiana. Il museo “Fondazione Burri” voluto dallo stesso artista si trova a Città di Castello in Umbria, città che gli ha dato le origini.

    Sono tre le aree tematiche dei lavori di Burri in mostra: Le Combustioni, Bianchi e Neri e i Cretti. Un corpusgrafico per il quale gli si riconosce un’alta innovazione artistica. Un periodo diverso dal precedente maggiormente caratterizzato dall’uso provocatorio dei materiali, quali plastica, legno, catrame, iuta, ferro, ecc.     

    Queste opere riuniscono, oltre alla sperimentazione, l’approccio al ‘rischio’, come affermato dallo stesso Antonio Sapone (anche amico d’infanzia dell’artista) con l’utilizzo della litografia o soluzioni pittoriche quali “acqua forte” o “acqua tinta”.

    Questa produzione di composizioni grafiche è poco nota al pubblico, per questo, come ci svela il rappresentante della Fondazione, hanno voluto promuoverla cominciando da New York.

    “Il metro con cui l’artista conduceva le sue realizzazioni era quello del rigore e così ha sempre perseguito l’innovazione. - continua Sapone -  L’azzardo di Burri è consistito nel voler realizzare composizioni, prima rigorosamente studiate e disegnate, guidandone la combustione fino a ottenere il progetto originario.”

    Si tratta di una sfida alla forza naturale degli elementi: il soffio sulla fiamma.  “Lo stesso procedimento è stato utilizzato con i Cretti. Con essi Burri ha usato una materia sintetica che, riscaldata, diventa fluida per poi aprirsi naturalmente e raggiungere la piattaforma da lui preparata in precedenza.”

    Antonio Sapone, è stato testimone delle sofferenze dell’artista per il conseguimento dei risultati. Dal rischio allo studio e la pratica rigorosi, Alberto Burri (prigioniero di guerra in Texas da dove ha iniziato a dipingere durante il Secondo Conflitto mondiale) sembra racchiudere nell’arco di tutta la sua vita artistica ogni aspetto del reale.

  • I Multipli di Burri all'Istituto italiano di Cultura di New York

    “I due Istituti collaborano da anni per ospitare artisti, come ad esempio è stato fatto per Morandi o Fontana, proprio per offrire al pubblico modalità diverse di uno stesso autore e cercando di portare negli Stati Uniti il senso complessivo delle loro opere, in modo da farne intuire tutto l’alto valore.” Introduce e motiva cosi il direttore dell’istituto Renato Miracco la duplice presenza di Burri presso i due importanti centri di cultura italiana newyorkesi.

    “Vi è anche una scelta strategica per quanto riguarda l’aspetto logistico: i due istituti infatti sono ubicati in due parti opposte della città di New York, Uptown and Downtown, e questo ricalca un pò le strategie delle grandi gallerie che sono presenti in città" – e continua ancora Miracco -  " Rispetto alla serie esposta alla Casa Italiana, quella dell’Istituto di Cultura si differenzia per l’allure meno aggressiva con il ricorso al lato più poetico dell’artista."
     

     Inoltre pur ospitando la serie meno nota dell’artista, quale è quella grafica,  il pubblico è stimolato dall’avere a disposizione due modalità nuove e al tempo stesso diverse nei due angoli della città.

    Il mio augurio, e credo anche quello di Stefano Albertini, direttore della Casa Italiana Zerrilli-Marimò, è quello di poter far vedere nelle nostre sedi in futuro la serie di Burri riferita agli anni ’50 del Novecento: ci proviamo!”

    I Multipli, raccolti in un’unica stanza al secondo piano dell’istituto, si caratterizzano per la presenza costante della materia. Tutti, pur con uno stile analogo, sono opere singole tout court, perché realizzate in luoghi tutti diversi tra loro. Un assemblaggio di forme ricavate su cartoni dai vari colori tra i più amati dal pittore.

    L’inaugurazione si è svolta in un clima allegro e ilare, ospiti speciali il  Console italiano Francesco Maria Talò, la Baronessa Zerrilli-Marimò, fondatrice della Casa Italiana della NYU e Stefano Albertini, direttore della Casa Italiana. Entrambi  non sono voluti mancare anche in questo evento speculare.

    Presente anche a questa nuova apertura, in veste di rappresentante della Fondazione Burri, Antonio Sapone che ha testimoniato l’aspetto piu umano dell’artista. Una vita al riparo dal clamore, dalla folla, nel rifugio a lui più caro dove sebbene lontano dai centri culturali e artistici più importanti quali Roma, Venezia o Milano, riusciva ad esprimersi e a trovare l’ispirazione.

    Come Burri stesso ha affermato riguardo alla sua concezione dell’arte: la forma e lo spazio delle materie rappresentano la vera bellezza così come lui la intendeva. Un omaggio alla vita, in un certo senso, contenitrice di tutte le forme.          

  • Life & People

    Food & Motors: ITC Brings Italy to Saratoga

    Before arriving in Saratoga Springs, New York, we would have never imagined that in this quiet and residential town a joyful and lively event could completely brighten up the everyday life of of its inhabitants. The Italian Trade Commission, indeed, had brought a bright touch of "Italianity" to town.

    Since May, Saratoga has been hosting a consistent number of initiatives, from horse and car races to music and ballet shows. They have been all organized by the Saratoga Center for Performing Arts, which is located in the homonymous National Park, and organizes a huge series of events for the million people living in the three cities of Albany, Shenectady, and Saratoga.

    This year, the North American Division of the Italian Trade Commission, led by its director Mr. Aniello Musella, has been supporting SPAC in organizing the Wine and Food Festival right from the moment it was first conceived, along with many side activities and manifestations. This three-days event is now at its ninth edition, and, as Mr. Musella pointed out during the press conference held just before it started, “the ITC is honored to sponsor the Saratoga Wine Food and Ferrari Fall Festival that represents a merging of two Italian excellencies". He introduced the full program of the event  to us by defining it as an "endless adventure in tasting", the heart of which would consists of the Grand Food and Wine Tasting at the huge pavilion. 

    Some data on importation, which Mr. Musella  highlighted during the various presentations, help us better understand the increasing interest that food farming items have been acquiring as of late. This is mostly true, considering the fact that even though the Euro value played a strong role into the US market, thus disabling American buying power, Italian valuable products resisted and didn't pay a big price. Furthermore, the Italian wine industry reinforced its presence regarding the table wine sort that stands out according to quality and quantity.

    During the first pre-inaugural evening at “Chianti Il Ristorante” of Saratoga on Thursday, restaurant owner Mr. David Zecchini delighted our stomachs with some ‘Cannoli di Ricotta’ right through the  ‘Millefoglie di Stracchino e Mele‘. Together with the variety of wines served, the oeuvre-d’art was complete. The wines were offered by the Castello Banfi estate, whose vineyards are based in Tuscany. The starting dinner worked as a welcoming evening that hosted all the protagonists of the festival, such as wine and food importers or Ferrari collectors, mechanics and professionals in general as well as cars and wine’s lovers. All of them scattered throughout the whole town of Saratoga in a range of 30-50 people per restaurant.

    On the following day about 20 Ferrari models from the mid 1950’s to the latest models were present and took us for a ride towards Lake George, the core of the Adirondack Mountain region. During the race we had the chance to speak with Mr. Bob Bailey, Founder and Chairman of the Trustees Board Automobile Museum of Saratoga , which for the first time this year has joined the Festival. He affirmed the importance this new synergy contains, and the pleasure the board of trustees had in joining their forces so transforming it into one unique happening. He also stated the importance of the recent agreement between the US Government and the FIAT management team, notwithstanding the job opportunities this partnership could bring into both countries.

    The race allowed us to experience incredible views of the villages surrounding the Adirondack Mountains. We were chauffeured to and from Saratoga by powerful engines: one Testarossa Old Version on the way to the lake, and one yellow Ferrari 360 Modena (Bob Baileys’ car).

    The long day continued with a lunch at the historical “Lake George Club” right on the shore of Lake George, while the Great Evening ‘Serata Italiana’ was waiting for us to start.

    The Gala was held into the SPAC headquarters, where every single detail was well thought out: from the ‘aperitivo’ at the entrance in which sparkling ‘Mionetto’ was served, to the huge ballroom spread out with cuisine spaces, wine and dessert corners all over.

    A vast area of SPAC was also dedicated to Italy’s prizes and successes as reported by local newspapers such as the Times Union.

    In the middle of the Gala, a small wine auction took place in order to raise some funds and contributions to benefit classical programming at SPAC and the educational programs of the Auto Museum.  The bids went from $200,00 up to nearly $2,000 which entertained people who on their turn were also enchanted and amused by the spirit of the auctioneer who lead the bids.

    During the night some of the event’s foremost participants, introduced by Mrs. Marcia J. White President and Executive Director of SPAC, addressed the guests by stating the importance of the Italian contribution to American culture and production. Among them were Joseph L. Bruno, Sen. Roy McDonald, both members of the Senate of New York and the Saratoga mayor John Zeiger. In particular, Stefano Acunto, the honorary Italian Vice Consul of Upstate New York, addressed a special speech also by attesting to the excellence that the Italian Chianti wine has attained.   He also thanked the work of the Italian Trade Commission for its strong adhesive role between the Italian entrepreneurial world, its production quality and the success of Italian products in the United States. The entertainment continued with some live music through out the evening.

    The following day the Grand Tasting event occurred, which held the utmost relevance. Two specific seminars took place: the Ferrari seminar, with some participants coming from the Ferrari world who were part of Luigi  Chinetti’s Ferrari team, such as Francois Sicard, Dick Fritz, Denise McCluggage (the first woman to enter the racing world as a journalist 55 years ago), the driver Sam Poisey, Tom Burnside and many more. Shortly afterwards the Food and Wine Seminar took place, driven by Lou Di Palo, the fourth generation operator of  Di Palo’s Fine Foods  in New York .

    Through the moderation of journalist Ed Lucas, the Ferrari team told stories about their common experiences at Chinetti’s Ferrari together with his son Luigi Chinetti’s Jr., a former driver of the North American Racing Team (N.A.R.T.). Chinetti Sr. is very well known in the automobile racing field as being a racecar driver who has won several events, first with Alfa Romeo and then with Ferrari. He then opened the first Ferrari factory agency in the United States, making a deal with Enzo Ferrari, the founder of the Scuderia Ferrari Grand-Prix motor racing team.   His son now operates Luigi Chinetti Motors which designs and builds racing cars.

    The Food and Wine seminar offered a lunch in which every single product was explained by Lou Di Palo himself, who is a fine connoisseur of Italian American food and wine, as well as Italian history and culture. His store has been selling specialty Italian cheeses, meats and other fine Italian imports in New York City’s Little Italy since 1925.

    During the tasting even ordinary people entered the Festival and had the pleasure of tasting all the specialties on display. Upon listening to their very voices, all of them had a peculiar reason to come and join the Grand Tasting on Saturday the 12th. Nancy, for example, has always loved Italian wines, especially those with Tuscan origins. Therefore she deliberately attended this event.

    Joey, on the contrary, didn’t know wines at all and stopped by just to experience the occasion. On the other hand, Jack and his family participate in the Saratoga Wine and Food festival every year to taste all kinds of food and wine presented, and this year they were also thrilled to view the exhibition of Ferrari and Maserati cars, too.
     

    For several years now, the American palate has been undergoing a dramatic change in food and drink choice. This change seems be growing from a heightened interest in Italian culture, as Gary Grunner from “Grapes on the Go“  explained to us. Grapes on the Go is a wine management consulting company with over 20 years of experience; its brands have been involved in elegant wine tasting events. This company represents some important Italian brands such as Ferragamo, that merged fashion industry activity with that of wine branding as well. "Grapes on the Go" focuses on wine packaging and quality taste: as far as Mr. Grunner’s experience is concerned, the factors of packaging and taste affect Americans’ consumption, which was in the past largely provided by California wines.
     

    Another interesting story for the future will concern a special deal between an American Wine estate and a very famous Italian branding firm, Pininfarina. 

    This new American trend of growing interest in Italian products is evident from people that crowded the Italian section of the pavilion, regardless of the bad weather that unfortunately and suddenly put a damper on the day. As one famous Italian intellectual and writer affirmed many years ago, “Wine is made up of various grapes so as to signify unity” (Ignazio Silone, Bread and Wine - 1937). On this occasion, water played its part but could not hamper the events’ success!   
     

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  • Nick & Bart - 82 anni dopo

    Il 23 agosto, è ricorso l'anniversario  della morte di due uomini italiani, giudicati colpevoli di una rapina svoltasi nel Massachusetts e di un duplice omicidio. Il 23 agosto 1927, infatti, essi furono condannati alla morte certa: la sedia elettrica. L' 'elettrocuzione,  termine indicato dall'autore nel testo "Sotto un cielo Stellato - Vita e Morte di Nicola Sacco e Bartolomeo Vanzetti",  è stata decisa dopo sette anni di indagini, processi, arringhe e testimonianze. La vicenda ebbe un'eco drammatica non solo negli Stati Uniti e in Italia (i due paesi coinvolti) ma ovunque nel mondo e in un momento storico in cui non mancarono certo eventi che potessero catturare l' attenzione dell'opinione pubblica.

    Il libro appena citato e' in  presentazione in questo momento in Italia e l'autore, studioso di storia del Novecento e in particolare della Resistenza e delle organizzazioni del movimento dei lavoratori, e' il Professor Lorenzo Tibaldo.

    L'emigrazione di Vanzetti verso l'America comincia nel 1908 subito dopo la morte della madre che lo colpì profondamente. Tra le lettere che Vanzetti invia alla famiglia, risaltano subito quelle riportanti  i motivi che lo spinsero a non lasciare l'America, a differenza del padre (... "Mi domandi se mi piace tanto l'America..." ..."Dato il mio carattere, il mio modo di pensare, l'amore per la libertà, la forza fisica per cui non pavento durezza di fatica, mi rendono questo paese gradito.").  Motivi, questi, maturati dopo l'esperienza lavorativa a Torino, città che agli inizi del '900 brulica di iniziative sindacali guidate da artigiani. È li' che Vanzetti se non partecipando ma comunque interessandosi alle lotte operaie che vi si svolgono e confrontandosi con i sostenitori delle più diverse posizioni nell'ambito sindacalista, matura una coscienza anarchica volta alla difesa dei più deboli.

    Per Nicola l'esperienza con la politica arriva direttamente dal lavoro sui campi, in cui le condizioni dei lavoratori agricoli da adito a Sacco di coltivare  quegli ideali di giusta riconoscenza e giusti  trattamenti che in Puglia non erano ancora maturati. È in America che Sacco e Vanzetti si incontrano, nell'anno del primo arresto di Nicola Sacco, il 1916, ognuno con esperienze diverse e a metà della maturazione politica e sociale per cui verranno anche conosciuti più tardi. Rispetto alla grande  massa di italiani che dal 1906 al 1910 sbarca disperata oltreoceano, i due italiani non hanno una storia di necessità economica stringente alle spalle. Certo oltre all'anelito per una migliore giustizia sociale e libertà, comune già a tutti gli immigrati che in quel periodo storico solcano i mari lasciando i propri paesi natali, li guida anche la necessità di migliorare la propria condizione economica.

     Sono anche gli anni in cui le lotte dei lavoratori stimolano e smuovono la classe media; anni in cui nascono le prime associazioni sindacali che vedono realizzarsi in strutture più grandi come l'American Federation of Labor o l'Industrial Workers of the World (l'IWW). Molti gli articoli, principalmente sul giornale "Cronaca Sovversiva", in cui Vanzetti, date le sue passioni e propensioni per il lavoro intellettuale, analizza il ruolo delle unioni sindacali e delle associazioni operaie. Al centro dei contenuti dei suoi scritti un unico vero filo comune: il rifiuto dello sfruttamento dell'uomo sull'uomo e la dignità del lavoro. Nicola Sacco, nello stesso periodo, è maggiormente occupato nella sua militanza verso le attività volte alla solidarietà  (raccolta di denaro per soccorrere gli scioperanti, la difesa di sindacalisti arrestati, ecc.). Una sola volta, nel 1916, prima di essere tradotto in prigione verso la sedia elettrica, viene arrestato durante una manifestazione di solidarietà agli operai del Minnesota e rilasciato dopo tre mesi. 
     

    Il testo, corredato da foto di Nick e Bart così come da foto d'epoca, prosegue  il racconto storico  incentrandosi sul periodo precedente il loro arresto e preparatorio di tutta una situazione politica (l'entrata in guerra degli Stati Uniti, la Red Scare ecc.) che culminerà poi in una presa di posizione esemplare demonizzando e infine uccidendo legalmente i due anarchici. Tutta la vicenda, il duplice omicidio e la rapina (di poco successiva ad un'altra che aveva scaldato gli animi dell'opinione pubblica) viene raccontata con dovizia di particolari. L'autore riesce ad intrecciare le storie dei due italiani senza confonderle ma dando dignità ad entrambi e riabilitandone le coscienze. Non di riabilitazione tardiva si tratta, come fu storicamente nel 1977 anno in cui il governatore del Massachussets Michael Dukakis riconobbe gli errori commessi durante il processo, bensì frutto di uno studio lungo, costante e preciso accompagnato da una passione che il prof. Lorenzo Tibaldo nutre per queste e altre vicende.

    Centro del lavoro svolto è la memoria storica, senza la quale e' impossibile acquisire una coscienza sociale, e una spinta a non commettere gli stessi errori.
     

    Il libro, così come in apertura, si chiude sulla scena del funerale  quattro giorni dopo la morte ufficiale  con le conclusioni dell'autore sugli sviluppi che la vicenda di Nick & Bart a livello mediatico ha attirato. Il titolo, a prima vista dal solo sapore poetico, come conferma lo stesso autore, riporta un'amara considerazione che Bartolomeo esprime la notte del 3 agosto in cui entrambi vengono trasferiti dalle celle al braccio della morte: "Andandoci ho potuto gettare un colpo d'occhio sul cielo stellato della notte. Era da molto tempo che non l'avevo piu' visto e ho pensato che era il mio ultimo sguardo alle stelle". Senza indugi ulteriori e' possibile affermare che, secondo il svolto dal Prof. Tibaldo, almeno le nubi sulla loro figura e la loro dignita' si sono finalmente diradate.  
    (da "Sacco e Vanzetti" di Giulaino Montaldo, 1971)

  • Facts & Stories

    Nick & Bart - 82 Years Later

    August 23 marked the 82nd anniversary of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti’s death.

     On August 23, 1927 Sacco and Vanzetti were executed for the crimes of robbery and double murder in Massachusetts. They were put to death by electrocution, seven years after numerous investigations, sensational trials, and countless witnesses. The term “electrocution” appears throughout the book entitled Sotto un cielo Stellato – Vita e Morte di Nicola Sacco e Bartolomeo Vanzetti - Claudiana Editrice (Under a Starry Sky: Life and Death of Nicola Sacco e Bartolomeo Vanzetti). This dramatic event, besides claiming the attention of the two countries involved, Italy and the U.S., also captured the public’s interest worldwide. The book, written by Italian scholar Professor Lorenzo Tibaldo, is currently being presented throughout Italy.

    According to this remarkable scientific work, the Italian anarchists’ story has been
    reconstructed through new sources such the exchange of letters with their families along with other research material culled from the Fondo Bartolomeo Vanzetti, the Italian Historical Institute of the Resistance, and national newspaper articles published at the time. In fact, Il Corriere della Sera and La Gazzetta del Popolo, despite the political situation that harshly targeted anyone who went against the fascist regime, added to the foreign media’s outcry by protesting the judicial mistakes made in their case. Letters to their families in Italy present clear testimonies and follow the author’s historical reconstruction, especially through Vanzetti who had a more intellectual inclination. The author traces their lives, beginning with their difficult beginnings in Italy, their growing political awareness, as well as their experiences in America where they played an active role in radical politics until their tragic end.              
    Vanzetti’s first experience as an immigrant in America began in 1908 soon after his mother’s death which affected him deeply. Among the letters Vanzetti sent to his family, those containing the reasons that pushed him to migrate to America illustrate his state of mind and opinion of the country from the beginning: “You ask me whether I like America that much … Because of my personal attitudes, my way of thinking, the love of freedom I feel, as well as my physical strength that allows me not to fear hard work, all of these things make this country very appealing to me.” The reasons increased during the years when he worked in Turin, a city that hosted a number of labor movements led by artisans’ unions at the turn of the century. It was in Turin that Vanzetti became interested in the labor struggle while coming into contact with differing and varied points of view. At that time the initial stirrings of anarchism develop within him, such as disapproval of the existing political structure and defense of the weakest people.       
     Nicola Sacco’s political awareness was largely influenced by his experience and hard work in the Apulian countryside alongside other agricultural workers where the concept of humane working conditions had not yet taken hold. In America, Sacco and Vanzetti first met in 1916 when Sacco was arrested and his political consciousness was first awakened. Compared with the majority of other Italian immigrants arriving in the U.S. from 1906 to 1910, neither struggled financially although they both longed for social justice and freedom as other Italian immigrants did.
     These were the years in which the labor struggle offered great incentives to working class people. In those years, in fact, several unions and labor associations started to organize and claim a broader base, such as the American Federation of Labor or the Industrial and the International Workers of the World (IWW). Vanzetti also wrote articles in which he discussed the positive role of labor unions especially for the newspaper Cronaca Sovversiva (Subversive Chronicle).The common thread uniting them was the contempt for the exploitation of human beings for profit as well as the dignity of work. During the same period, Nicola Sacco became active in political life as he collected money for labor strikers to be used to defend union workers’ after their arrest. He was arrested the first time in 1916 while protesting on behalf of Minnesota’s workers but was held for only three months.        
     The book, accompanied by photographs of Sacco and Vanzetti, presents historical facts by focusing on their previous political experiences and framing the events within the historical context which includes the Red Scare as well as the U.S.’s entrance into World War I. The plot plainly examines how prejudice and stereotypes influenced the final trial by judge which resulted in their death sentence. The author deftly balances Sacco and Vanzetti’s stories by providing a vivid picture of their different backgrounds and points of view. Professor Tibaldo’s timely reevaluation stands distinctly apart from the 1977 proclamation by Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis which officially recognized the failings of the American justice system in the case.
     The book’s research posits the importance of historical memory supported by social awareness as well as the evident admonition to prevent the mistakes of the past from occurring again.
     While the final scene of the book describes their funeral in Italy, the author goes on to summarize how the case has been depicted in different genres especially film, thus concluding the narrative circle.
     The poetic title Under a Starry Sky refers to a sad reflection expressed by Vanzetti as he was escorted from his jail cell to the electric chair on August 23, 1927: “While there, I could look on the stars in the night sky. It had been so long since I had seen something like this and I knew it would be my last glance at the stars.” Thanks to Professor Tibaldo’s exhaustive scientific research and conclusive text, it is now possible say that the clouds surrounding the images of Sacco and Vanzetti have finally been cleared.

    Tibaldo Lorenzo (Pinerolo, 1952)
    Professor of Humanistic subjects and Scholar of the Resistance Period.


  • Events: Reports

    Franco Battiato in NYC. A Musician, an Eclectic Artist, and...

    Voglio sperare che il mondo torni a quote più normali
    che possa contemplare il cielo e i fiori,
    che non si parli più di dittature
    se avremo ancora un po' da vivere...

    “One can hope the world could come to an ordinary altitude,

    That it would be able to contemplate both the sky and flowers,

    No more dictatorships talking

    So we will have more to live for…

    While spring still longs to come.” 
     

    These few lines from Franco Battiato’s song “Povera Patria” (Poor Country) give us a hint of his sophisticated style and prose. The album on which it appears and which sold 25,000 copies received the Targa Tenco Prize (an annual award recognizing singer-songwriters in San
    Remo). 

    Internationally revered as one of the most original artists in Italian music from the 1970s to the present, Franco Battiato is also regarded as one of the most eclectic personalities in the Italian music industry. His sound spans the genres of experimental, avant-garde, opera, ethnic, as well as progressive rock and pop music. His inclination towards a variety of influences has led to frequent collaborations with some of the most extraordinary musicians and artists, allowing him to achieve great success with both critics and the public.  

    Battiato’s musical experiments culminated in 1978 with “L’Egitto Prima delle Sabbie” (Egypt before the Sands) which won a Stockhausen Prize for piano composition. In 1984, he penned and performed Italy’s entry in the Eurovision Song Contest “I Treni di Tozeur” (The Trains of Tozeur).  The song is widely considered to be the most sophisticated composition to compete in this song competition that has a somewhat dubious reputation.  

    In addition to his music, his prose writing and painting also reflect his vast interests that span esoteric philosophy and Eastern meditation. For the past two decades, in fact, Franco Battiato’s interest in philosophy and Eastern religions has crossed over into the visual arts. Painting under the pseudonym Süphan Barzani, his work has been shown in exhibitions in Europe and the United States.   

    Most recently, Franco Battiato has added the title of filmmaker to his resume with his debut effort “Perduto Amor” (Lost Love), which was awarded Italy’s Nastro D'Argento Critics’ Award for best directorial debut in 2004. Speaking about his success in filmmaking, his second film “Musikanten” about the last two years of the life of Ludwig van Beethoven was shown as a selection at the Venice Film Festival in 2006. 

    His rare New York appearance on October 19 at 10 p.m. at Le Poisson Rouge (158 Bleecker Street at Thompson Street) will welcome his old fans as well as win over new ones.  

    For more information visit Le Poisson Rouge's website or call 212.505.3474. 
     

      Franco Battiato ft. Carmen Consoli - Tutto L'Universo Obbedisce All'Amore

  • Art & Culture

    “Lettera alla mia terra”. Beauty and Hell for Roberto Saviano


    The festival opened with two international writers, American Andrew Sean Greer and Italian Margaret Mazzantini, who was accompanied by the actor Sergio Castellitto for a reading from her most recent book. As usual, each reading is from an unpublished work and this criterion has characterized the event since it was established eight years ago.


    While the books were written in two very different styles and languages, they frequently blended into each other, creating a somewhat taxing experience for the audience.

    As the artistic director Maria Ida Gaeta explained, this year the literary festival sought to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon in an unusual way: through literature. Each reading was accompanied by electronic musical performances, as well as soundtracks and promotional trailers produced especially for each work.

    Among the many authors who presented their work, Roberto Saviano’s reading on June 30 was noteworthy. He was again present at this year’s festival to share his new book while he witnessed the power of his own words.


    The Massenzio Basilica was already crowded at 6 p.m. even though the readings did not begin until 9 p.m. People braved long lines for an opportunity to hear the young writer Roberto Saviano, who has been escorted by police officers since the release of his mafia exposé Gomorrah in 2006.

    Something occurred the moment he took the stage: the charming patina that the festival has always brought with it suddenly dissolved and the true message and gravity of his words were revealed.


    Roberto burst into a two-hour reality tale while the photographer Alberto Giuliani presented the various faces of mafia women and madonnas whose role in organized crime is well-defined. Women and religious symbols, especially the Virgin Mary, have been manipulated as objects and used as instruments by men involved in the mafia or the camorra, and whose status has been supported by the mafia’s social and cultural framework. Saviano’s bodyguards stayed close by to protect him and nothing escaped from their sight, not even the flash of a camera. They also tried to give him room, trying not to create a barrier for Roberto who was deeply moved by the reception. With the look of a neophyte, he watched in astonishment as people came to see him. It’s hard to reconcile his visible embarrassment as he nervously rubbed his head, with his rich, detailed, and weighty narrative full of nuance and meaning.


    After reading the introduction to his last book (La bellezza e l’Inferno: scritti 2004-2009) one could easily understand all of it: “[…] engraving a word onto the world, passing it on to someone like a ticket or underground information. Once you have read it, you learn it by heart and then destroy it […] Writing is an act of resistance. […]” He dedicated his new book, written during the years he spent in the shadows, to his readers who have followed and supported him. They have allowed his words to live, despite the danger as shown by the latest mafia trials.   

       

     A collection of editorials, tales, and articles (some have appeared in national and international journals and newspapers such as La Repubblica, L’Espresso, and El Paìs) written down while he was escorted through narrow and various places. Each describe the two opposing aspects of his life since Gomorrah was published: the hell of what he saw and continues to see and the beauty of the art itself that he uses so that he can be a fair and accurate witness.


    One piece in particular entitled “Letter to My Country” first appeared in September 2008 in La Repubblica and takes the form of a long, grieving message to Italy. It’s a chain of facts, murders, ambushes, and abuses connected by obsessive rhetorical questions that can be summed up with one: How is this still possible? How can my people accept this day after day?   


    Roberto wrote his reply as he awaits imaginary readers, leaders, citizens, and the entire country to give theirs. For him, writing is as a form of resistance; it’s resistance against those who sling mud and who accuse him of “getting rich off his books,” and resistance against those who incessantly claim that “it’s not just Italy!” even though that aspect of Italy continues to grow.



    During the reading, Roberto took the opportunity to criticize several positions that the government has maintained, such as prohibiting phone taps (although this has hardly deterred the President of the Republic, even temporarily) and the harsh laws against mafia criminals called “41 bis” which were enacted after judge Falcone’s assassination. He also condemned the recent laws passed by the government against illegal immigrants. In one piece entitled “Miriam Makeba: The Brotherhood Rage,” Roberto recalled the slaughter of six Africans in Castelvolturno which had nothing to do with criminal activity. With help from the Nigerian mafia, the camorra used the murder of six innocent people as a way to send a message to those immigrants who remain.


    The extended applause that welcomed Roberto at the beginning and thanked him at the end seemed to accompany him throughout his long subterranean journey. It’s long overdue recognition from the festival’s audience as well as a tribute to our needy country.




     
     

  • “Lettera alla mia terra”. La bellezza e l'inferno per Roberto Saviano


    Aprono il Festival Internazionale delle Letterature di Roma due scrittori, americano uno e italiana l’altra con  due racconti inediti com’è d’uso ormai in tutte le edizioni del festival: ben otto. Andrew Sean Greer e Margaret Mazzantini (con la lettura dell’attore Sergio Castellitto di un passaggio dell’ultimo libro della scrittrice) aprono le danze e due stili così diversi tra loro, nonché due lingue i cui ritmi non combaciano quasi mai, riescono ad amalgamarsi e a regalare sin dall’inizio una serata intensa. 

    Quest’anno, come spiega la direttrice artistica del Festival, Maria  Ida Gaeta, si è voluto celebrare il 40° anniversario dell’allunaggio di Armstrong attraverso lo strumento della letteratura  i cui contrappunti musicali che hanno accompagnato le serate hanno saputo rinnovarsi rispetto alle scorse edizioni. Musica elettronica, colonne sonore, dj set insieme alla realizzazione di dieci trailer originali dedicati a tutti gli autori ospiti, sono state solo alcune delle novità che hanno caratterizzato il Festival.

     
    Infatti, a chiusura dell’evento e quasi a sorpresa perché poco diffusa come notizia, Roberto Saviano nella sera del 30 giugno ha potuto essere presente per trasferire come sempre e con nuove forze, il potere della parola.
    In realtà la basilica di Massenzio fuori le mura era già gremita di gente dalle 18.00 (benché come tutti i reading di quest’evento esso si svolgesse alle 21.00). La fila era per ottenere almeno 2 biglietti ciascuno e non farsi sfuggire quest’occasione così importante per stare raccolti intorno  allo scrittore, dal 2006 ormai sotto scorta.

     
    Con il suo arrivo un fatto certo è emerso: la patina d’allure, che il festival inevitabilmente ha sempre avuto, si è improvvisamente scrostata per svelare il volto  della  concretezza che l’uso delle parole dovrebbe sempre trasferire.
    Accompagnato dalle foto di Alberto Giuliani, Roberto Saviano si è sciolto in un racconto- verità lungo oltre due ore il cui tema portante è stato il ruolo delle donne di mafia e la funzione delle Madonne, come simboli religiosi utilizzati dalla mafia. Donne e Madonne, entrambe strumenti (anche oggetti) che la criminalità organizzata non esita a portare avanti come  scudi e a strumentalizzarne le figure, facilitata spesso da situazioni di arretratezza culturale.

     
    I suoi angeli custodi erano intorno a lui presenti, attenti a ogni minimo movimento o flash indesiderato; allo stesso tempo si tenevano a distanza come a non voler essere d’intralcio a quest’uomo,  emozionato dal clamore che suscita alla stregua di un bambino alle prime armi. Il gesto della mano che accarezza la testa, confuso, rimane impressa negli occhi ed è difficile accostare quell’immagine alle sue parole ferme, precise  ricche di significati, sfumature e contenuti che hanno il solo e unico compito di “ (…) iscrivere  una parola nel mondo, passarla a qualcuno come un biglietto con un’informazione clandestina, uno di quelli che devi leggere, mandare a memoria e poi distruggere (…) scrivere è resistere, è fare resistenza.” Così nell’introduzione al suo nuovo libro: “La bellezza e l’inferno – Scritti 2004-2009”. Un libro che questa volta Roberto  ha dedicato ai suoi lettori che lo hanno sostenuto e continuano a sostenerlo facendo vivere le sue parole; parole pericolose come hanno dimostrato gli ultimi processi di camorra.

     
    Una raccolta di scritti, editoriali e racconti (in parte pubblicati su quotidiani e riviste  nazionali e internazionali, da La Repubblica passando per l’Espresso a El Pais) nei luoghi più angusti e disparati. Tutti descrivono i due ambiti opposti e tuttavia complementari della sua esistenza dall’uscita di Gomorra: l’inferno di ciò che vede con i suoi occhi e la bellezza dell’arte, della scrittura di cui si serve per descriverlo, per essere testimone.

     
    Uno su tutti, “Lettera alla mia terra”. Scritto comparso la prima volta nel settembre del 2008 su “Repubblica”. Un accorato lungo messaggio alla sua terra. Una concatenazione di fatti, omicidi, agguati, soprusi alternati da domande che poi ne racchiudono una sola: com’è possibile? Com’è possibile accettare giorno per giorno tutto questo?  
    L’unica risposta, mentre ancora le sue domande attendono che gli interlocutori immaginari, i lettori ma anche i suoi concittadini, e tutto il paese ne diano una, lo scrittore l’affida alla scrittura. La scrittura come strumento di resistenza: resistere a chi getta fango su di te perché ‘ti arricchisci con i libri’; resistenza a chi non fa che ripetere che “non esiste solo quest’Italia” mentre questa Italia si allarga sempre più.

     
    Non sono mancate, durante l’incontro, alcune nette critiche sulle ultime prese di posizione del governo: sulle intercettazioni (ddl in corsa che ha ricevuto un primo seppur timido stop dal Presidente della Repubblica) e l’indebolimento del 41 bis; sulla politica contro gli immigrati ricordati sempre in uno dei suoi racconti sulla strage di Castelvolturno in cui morirono sei africani che non avevano nulla a che vedere con la camorra (“Miriam Makeba: la rabbia della fratellanza”). Infatti, la camorra se l’è presa con loro mentre fa affari con la mafia nigeriana: ucciderne sei per educarne cento.

     
    Il lungo applauso che ha accolto prima e salutato poi Roberto sembrava non volerlo lasciare mai, sembrava volerlo accompagnare nel suo lungo viaggio sotterraneo che pare non dover finire mai. Un carico applauso la risposta  del pubblico del Massenzio e un omaggio a questa nostra terra che ne ha tanto bisogno.   

     

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