The improbable encounter between Blade Runner 2049 and Baldassarre Castiglione’s Il Cortegiano (Book 3) is the topic of Jill Burke’s latest entry in her blog. It’s Joi, the holographic super-girl who Agent K keeps in a device in his pocket, not K or any of the replicants in BR 2049, who is the focus – she can be compared to the perfect court lady imagined in the discussions among Castiglione’s courtiers. Burke connects their creation of an imaginary ideal woman with developments in the Renaissance painting of female nudes, setting real-life faces on classically beautiful bodies.
Scent, sight, sound, taste, touch: all Italian-style. They are covered in a programme of Thursday evening lectures, Melbourne Masterclass : Senses of Italy, at the University of Melbourne, 6.15 – 8.15pm, 5 October – 2 November 2017. The series starts with Catherine Kovesi on Renaissance perfumes (Venice as olfactory heaven) and Antonio Artese on scent and Aquaflor (5 Oct). Then Christopher Marshall looks at Artemisia Gentileschi’s correspondence (‘it’s all about the money’) and Mark Nicholls at Rossellini’s Voyage to Italy (12 Oct). John Weretka uses paintings and poetry to examine the instruments, repertoires and status of Renaissance musicians (upwardly mobile), followed by Malcolm Angelucci on poetics, music and madness in Italy before 1914 (19 Oct). John Hajek and Anthony White consider Futurism and food, the art and appetites of the antigrazioso (26 Oct). Finally Andrea Rizzi explores the ideas and images of Renaissance texts (‘tactile values’), and Carl Villis reveals some attributions and reattributions of Italian Renaissance art in the National Gallery of Victoria (2 Nov). Further details on the contributions, authors, venue and registration can be found here.
The most recent issue of The Italianist (2017, 37, 2), edited by Charles Leavitt, Catherine O’Rawe and Dana Renga), is devoted to screen studies. The section on acting and performance has essays by Lisa Sarti on early Italian cinema journals and their reflections on acting for film and stage, Sarah Culhane on Anna Magnani and Sophia Loren performing the popolana, Alison Cooper on Rome as a key locus for reflecting on the relationship between performance and place, and Danielle Hipkins on the performance of girlhood in Gabrielle Mainetti’s Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot. All four essays underline the importance of theatricality for an understanding of Italian film theory and practice. In addition two pieces focus on Carl Koch’s film of Tosca (1941): Berhard Kuhn uses it to examine the relation between film melodrama and opera and Ivo Blom analyses the making of the film and the contributions of Jean Renoir and Luigi Visconti.
Gino Moliterno ANU
Peter Bondanella, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature, Film Studies and Italian at Indiana University, died on 28 May. In an academic career spanning more than four decades Bondanella’s contribution to Italian Studies was extraordinary; the falling silent of his voice will be very sad news for all Italianists in the English-speaking world, especially those interested in cinema. His generosity of spirit, the depth and breadth of scholarship, love of Italian cinema, sardonic sense of humour, and determination always to contribute to the valorisation of Italian culture will be greatly missed. Federico Fellini perhaps summed up Peter’s style best when, in the foreword he contributed to The Cinema of Federico Fellini (1992), he wrote: ‘The most exciting aspect of Bondanella’s work is, in fact, his inextinguishable faith in the power of reason and systematization which reminds us in a nostalgic way of methods and choices inspired by respect and harmony’. Continue reading
BEYOND BORDERS. Transnational Italy/OLTRE I CONFINI. Italia Transnazionale, an exhibition curated by Viviana Gravano and Giulia Grechi, will open at the Co.As.It Museo Italiano, 199 Faraday Street, Melbourne, on Thursday 4 May 2017 at 6.30pm (free, registration here). It will be introduced by Loredana Polezzi (Cardiff University) and Rita Wilson (Monash University), with a performance by Luci Callipari-Marcuzzo. The exhibition is part of TML – Transnationalizing Modern Languages. Mobility, Identity and Translation in Modern Italian Cultures, a major international research project which includes collaborations with the Istituto Italiano di Cultura (London), J. Calandra Institute in New York, Co.As.It Melbourne and other partners. The project looks at the Italian communities established in the UK, the US, Australia, South America, Africa and at the migrant communities of contemporary Italy. After Rome, London and New York, the adapted version of the exhibition will be open at the Museo Italiano from 4-27 May, accompanied by a photographic project, Italy is Out, by Mario Badagliacca who has worked as artist in residence for the project in London, New York and Buenos Aires.
Vincenzo Pirrotta will shortly return to Australia to present his play La ballata delle balàte at the Street Theatre in Canberra on 5 April (7.30pm, registration here) and on 7-8 April at the Italian Forum in Leichhardt, Sydney (7.30pm, registration here). On 6 April at the Istituto Italiano di Cultura in Sydney (6.00-9.00pm, registration here) Pirrotta will introduce and discuss the play. La ballata delle balàte is a one-hour monologue in Sicilian dialect (English surtitles), written, interpreted and directed by Pirrotta accompanied by music by Giovanni Parrinello performed by Dario Sulis. The protagonist is a mafioso fugitive who in his hideout proclaims his faith in God while at the same time following the cruel logic of the mafia. The play offers a profound reflection on the relation between mafia and religious devotion with its staging marking the duality between sacred and profane (the blood of Christ and of mafia victims cohabit in the mafioso’s mind) and culminating in the adoration of a monstrance containing a characteristic form of mafia instruction (pizzzini). The hideout becomes for the mafioso a kind of place of worship, made out of church candles, a table and two chairs, where he prays wearing a crown of thorns and a noose around his neck. Continue reading
Sally Grant New York
Dario Fo died last Thursday, 13 October, at the age of 90. Rather than fumbling to find the right words to honour this great anarchic jester, we thought we’d let the masterful teller of yarns do it for us by linking to his acceptance speech for the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature. In “Contra Jogulatores Obloquentes” (“Against Jesters Who Defame and Insult”) Fo records his debt to earlier clowns and storytellers, particularly the actor-playwrights Ruzzante and Molière. Fo’s description of these men and the fear their art evoked could well describe his own theatrical skills and how he, along with his wife and frequent co-performer Franca Rame, were received by the political establishment:
“Above all, they were despised for bringing onto the stage the everyday life, joys and desperation of the common people; the hypocrisy and the arrogance of the high and mighty; and the incessant injustice. And their major, unforgivable fault was this: in telling these things, they made people laugh. Laughter does not please the mighty.”
But it pleases, and emboldens, the not-so-mighty. For those gifts, and as you take your last bow, Jester Fo, we give a standing ovation.