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Articles by: Iwona Adamczyk

  • Art & Culture

    Mystery Tuscany: a New Perspective on the Region Everybody Wants to Visit

    Everyone is familiar with the beautiful, poppy or sunflower filled, postcard-like Tuscan landscapes.

    Whether visiting Tuscany multiple times or planning a first trip to this scenic region most people read some history behind the places on their itineraries, yet this reading is usually limited to the snippets provided by guidebooks skimmed before traveling.

    Pantaleone A. Megna and Andrea Mignòlo, two young Italian directors have a real treat for all interested in learning more about the region.
     

    Galgano productions presents the public with an unusual take on Tuscany in a documentary titled Mystery Tuscany. A documentary of its own kind, the film is not only an innovative way to strike interest but it creates a completely new film genre: the travel-drama, combining the documentary with the techniques of a suspense movie. 

    Looking to shed an entirely different light on their beloved Tuscan region, the duo decided to resort to legends that surround popular and frequently visited by tourists places.

    Masterfully conveyed using voices and enigmatic elements, the places come alive in front of the viewer’s eyes, and moreover they transport them to the past. Carolina Gamini takes on the role of the mysterious and stunningly beautiful guide that accompanies the spectator to towers, castles, abbeys, Etruscan necropolis and medieval villages adding to the suspense with her ambiguous narrative voice.

    Andrea Mignòlo states: “We have recreated a timeless vision of Tuscany that differs from the common images from postcards. There are no cars, tourists or any signs of contemporaneity for that matter. We could be in 1500’s or just as well in 2020.” 

    The film consists of twelve short episodes and in entirety it is 85 minute long. Each episode centers on a particular town or historical site and is presented through the retelling of a myth that encases it.

    The city of Siena is depicted by the recounting of the fable of a ghost river that has been searched for by the Sienese for centuries. Volterra is presented via the story of the process of Elena da Travale, who had been tried for witchcraft in the 15th century. In the episode about Borgo a Mozzano the viewer learns about the spooky tale behind the famous Devil’s bridge, and in Sovana he/she gets introduced to the myth of the Etruscan golden carriage.

    Pantaleone A. Megna explains why they decided to use this unusual approach: “We wanted to covey the mentality and the beliefs of the pastime. We tried to imagine the populace that curiously looked at these impenetrable walls of the castles and daydreamed of their lives within them.”

    The project is wonderfully completed with sketch drawings done by Caterina Baldi, a young artist from Pesara and the musical score is composed by Patrizia Barrilà. 

    Mystery Tuscany is available on DVD, and accompanied by a book and ships worldwide from http://www.mysterytuscany.com/ 

    On the same website you can view the single episodes in streaming and is also available as an iPhone application at Apple’s App Store

  • Art & Culture

    Antonio Pio Saracino's Second Nature

    New Yorkers get their chance to visit the exhibit of a four-time winner of the Future Furniture design competition sponsored by Interior Design magazine.

    Antonio Pio Saracino, named one of the Top Ten Italian Architects under 36 by the New Italian Blood competition and recognized as one of the world’s 25 most interesting trendsetters by ARTnews magazine, exhibits at BOSI Contemporary Gallery (48 Orchard St. NYC).

    Three generations of experience are behind the newly opened BOSI Contemporary Gallery.

    The Rome based BOSI ARTE gallery has already established itself as one of the most renowned modern and contemporary art galleries in the world. Since 1949 the Bosi family has been passionately devoting themselves to discovering and exhibiting the works of contemporary artists from all over the globe.
     

    With a satellite gallery in London and the brand new New York City location, the owner and manager Sandro Bosi spreads the wings of their fame even further and opens a whole new door of possibilities for artists to exhibit in the Big Apple. 

    It is not at all surprising that Sandro Bosì chose the works of Antonio Pio Saracino as one of the first exhibitions at the NYC gallery. The talent that the young architect possesses is clearly visible after merely spending a few minutes in the dynamic gallery space, wandering between the exponents. On entrance the viewer encounters two minimalist yet large, color-contrasting sculptures, which only after reading the provided description are recognized as bookcases.

    Many of the other pieces on display are also functional art as Saracino, who comes from a small Italian village in the Apulia region, tends to intertwine his close relationship to nature and his design skills to create a new functional flexibility for both for the materials he uses and for his innovative constructions.  

    Second Nature is a clever and exceptionally fitting title for this exhibition. “Since I was a child I have always been fascinated by the mystery and complexity of nature. In my present work the fascination for the natural world is an important source of influence.  I am not looking to replicate nature in my design; I am interested in creating with my work the feeling that nature creates within me” - says Antonio Pio Saracino. 

    Thus far Second Nature has not been seen anywhere in the world, so make your way to BOSI Contemporary Gallery and be one of the first to experience yet another excellent exhibition of Antonio Pio Saracino. Read all about his previous and upcoming projects posted on one of the gallery’s side-walls, stroll and admire his meticulously executed drawings and perhaps try to take a seat in one of his chairs…

    The exhibit is open until March 4th, 2012. 

    Gallery hours are: Tuesday- Saturday 11am – 7pm 

    More info: http://bosicontemporary.com/gallery.html

    For more info about the artist visit his website: http://www.antoniopiosaracino.com/  

  • Events: Reports

    Toast Love! A Made In Italy Valentine's Day

     As part of citywide Fashion week celebrations, a special event was hosted by La Perla at the Madison Avenue Boutique (803 Madison Ave) on February 11th, 2012.

    In collaboration with the Italian Trade Commission and its Fashion of the Vine Project Program, La Perla celebrated the introduction of its newest collection. 

    Present in the upscale Upper East Side boutique was also Chef Vivien Reimbelli who created hand crafted chocolates in the Italian Tradition of Perugina and shared the legendary love story behind them with the invited guests.

    What could be better than tasting freshly made Perugina Baci chocolates while browsing through La Perla’s sensual collection?

    Perhaps pairing it all with some Italian wine provided by the Italian Trade Commission to celebrate full swing the Made in Italy Excellence!

    TOAST LOVE - Wines of Italy Tasting offered guests the widely and quickly spreading due to it deliciousness, Italian Prosecco as well as other wines from producers Valdora & Franco Todini.

    The afternoon event was made complete by the modeling of some of La Perla’s newest collection.

    Italian Trade Commissioner, Aniello Musella explains the premise behind the Fashion of the Vine Project, noting: “Italian Wine is fashionable. Vintages are created just as the most consummate of collections are: with intended expressions, precise intentions, and formidable muses.

    Those who value high quality, innovation, tradition and the creative process understand what MADE IN ITALY means whether it is presented on a runway or simply decanted.

    These underlying qualities representing the unparalleled nuances of Italian lifestyle are the reason behind the unrivaled success of Italian Fashion and Wine in the United States and reveal why Fashion of the Vine Project thrives. We are pleased to join La Perla in presenting a stellar sampling of the best of Made in Italy."

  • Events: Reports

    Mino La Franca and his New Shocking Exhibition at Casa Italiana

    ROMA AMOR debuts in New York. Why did you decide to show this in NYC?

    Who would pass up an opportunity to show in NY? But the first and foremost reason why I decided to exhibit here is because it would not be easy to exhibit these photographs in Italy.

    These photographs have not been shown anywhere in Italy. Why is that?

    No, I have decided to show it first in New York or perhaps Berlin, but not Italy.  It is very strong. The message behind the exhibition. The photographs represent the crisis of Italy, of the last years in Italy, the decadence of art and beauty. I wanted to represent a slaughterhouse, the decay of everything that is art and is beauty.

     
    Do you find the exhibit and the message you are conveying too strong for the Italian public or for the officials?
     

    Now that the government in Italy has changed I hope that it will not be too strong for the officials, but for the most part I mean the public. I showed it to some of my friends, who know and like my work and they couldn’t handle it. They said: “Mino, this is too much!” But this was my goal. I wanted to shock, punch, kick…  I am well aware that after seeing a few of these images for some it may be a bit too much.

    These are created using Photoshop? Layering one image over another? How was the idea born?

    Yes, the images are layered. I shot the background not for this purpose. I already had them in my files, because I work a lot in the theater, in opera. I made the background slaughterhouse images for a production of Macbeth (a bloody and gruesome play as you know). The slides were projected in the background. Imagine Andrea Bocelli singing with this in the background?  Quite powerful. After that production some critics stated that the images were too shocking. After all most people are used to seeing baroque and rococo staging styles. Then I went through a personal crisis, and I myself began to criticize everything around me, and from that the idea for this project arose. I decided to combine the slaughterhouse images with the many postcard type pictures of Rome I had in my collection to convey a strong and important message to the public. 

    That of the decay of art and beauty in Italy? It’s disheartening to even hear that. The whole world associates Italy with precisely that. Is there any hope?

    The geese will save Rome once again… haha… Notice the more peaceful part of the exhibition displayed in the smaller room near the exit to the garden. People need to breathe and laugh a little, so I made part of the exhibit amusing. I make books for children with geese as the subject, so once again my previous work came in handy. This part of the exhibit is more of a play-on-words… on history in a way. I hope the public will enjoy it.

    More info at: Mino La Franca

    Venue:
    Casa Italiana
    Exibihition Opening on February 6th at 6:30 PM
    On view until February 28th. Monday through Friday from 10 Am to 5 PM
     

  • Dining in & out: Articles & Reviews

    Take a Taste Trip to Le Marche Region

    What could be more pleasurable than spending a couple of hours tasting natural wines? Possibly having them presented by a the very wine-knowledgeable general manager of Eataly’s wine store Niccolò Salvadori, and accompanied by carefully chosen dishes prepared by the executive chef of La Scuola di Eataly Patrick Lacey. Let us not forget to mention the presence of Marco Scapagnini, food and beverage consultant as well as Domodimonti Winery representative who answered any questions with regard to the production of these natural wines and what that means exactly, both for the consumer and the environment.

    The territory of Le Marche is often referred to as the “New Tuscany,” and for those who need
    to make a comparison, it is all that and more. Simply put, it is another hidden, or less known Italian gem, quickly gaining worldwide recognition. This is not at all surprising when the consumers are presented with high quality and naturally grown products in our vastly ecologically oriented and environment-conscious market.
     

    Domodimonti Natural Winery, nestled in the breathtaking Italian countryside of Montefiore dell’Aso in the Le Marche region, places an emphasis on producing their wines in the purest fashion, using little to no additives in the process. The winery’s location is the fist step in achieving this goal, as it is not only located in a desirable climate for vine cultivation but it is also far enough from urban pollution.

    The winery’s owners Francesco and Marisa Bellini hired an expert wine maker Carlo Ferrini whom together with a team of dedicated winegrowers, vineyard and winery staff, enologists and agronomists created and launched a state-of-the-art, low amount of visual and ecological impact generating winery, producing natural wines that may soon take over the American market. Marco Scapagnini describes their approach to wine production and allots the success of Domondimonti wines to their adherence to the following:

    Grapes that are hand-picked
    Sustainably-grown, using organic matter
    Low-yielding vineyards
    No sugar additives and strict selection of yeast
    No acid adjustments
    No other commonly used additives for mouth feel, color creation
    Minimal use of sulfites
    Use of state-of-the-art technology

    During the afternoon tasting at La Scuola di Eataly, Domodimonti offered five wines from their line, beginning with a refreshing white wine called Déjà V made from the passerina grape and followed with LiCoste, produced from pecorino grape (yes, it sounds like the cheese but it is actually a grape name!) which is aged in barrels made out of acacia wood, giving the wine a specific and unusual aroma and taste. Three reds were also presented: the 100% sangiovese grape Monte Fiore, Picens, made from four different grapes (sangiovese, montepulciano, merlot and cabernet sauvignon) as well as their pride Il Messia, a montepulciano and merlot blend. All these wines were also offered to the public at Eataly the same weekend and are sold in Eataly’s wine store with prices starting at $ 12.80 for the Déjà V and reaching $35 for Il Messia. Domodimonti also introduced their extra virgin olive oil, made exclusively from the olives grown on the hillsides of Le Marche.

    Products used by chef Patrick Lacey, to create the wonderful hors d’oeuvres complimenting the wines were provided by Ortoconserviera Cameranese Srl, an Italian agricultural food-processing company that has been preserving flavors, recipes and traditions of Italian cuisine and typical Marchigiani products for three generations. The array of different pecorino cheese was provided by Caseificio Val d’Apsa, which specializes in the production and sales of quality cheese of the Le Marche region. Other products being promoted included Spinosi pasta, fortified with Omega 3 acids produced not only using fresh eggs from their own farm raised and carefully fed chickens, but as the owner of the company emphasizes “where each egg is still broken by hand.”

    The aperitivo could not finish on a better note than by having a shot of Varnelli amaro. A family owned and operated distillery leading in the sector of dry anise production. Orietta Maria Vernelli was present to answer questions about the production of their products, their unchanged methods and the great secrecy of their recipes. Varnelli Distillery Corp products are all naturally obtained from herbs, roots, fruit honey and alcohol, then checked and certified and the process is always being carefully followed by one of the family members who inherited knowledge and expertise from their herbalist ancestors.

    Can’t make it to Italy soon? No problem! Take a taste trip to the Le Marche region. You and your taste buds will not be sorry! All products are available at Eataly or their wine store.

    Here are some helpful links if you would like more information on these products:

    Domodimonti Winery: http://www.domodimonti.com/

    Ortoconserviera Cameranese Srl : http://www.ortoconserviera.com/

    Varnelli Distillery Corp: http://varnelli.it/

    Spinosi Pasta: http://www.spinosi.it/

    Caseificio Val d’Aspa: http://www.ascompesaro.it/main/apps/SchedeAssociati/index.php?id=508&g=caseificio-produzione-formaggi

    Le marche official site: http://www.regione.marche.it/

    Eataly NYC: http://eatalyny.com/

  • Self Portrait.
    Art & Culture

    The Other Stella: Joseph, the Italian Painter

    “When I mention the name Stella, most people immediately say  ‘Oh, Frank? The American painter?’ To which I then reply: “No, Joseph Stella, the Italian painter.” Some, usually the elite more involved in the art world will reply: ‘Oh, the one that painted the bridges.’ And this is why I felt the need to bring light to his work, and not just his depictions of the Brooklyn Bridge, but to the many dimensions that his work truly has.”  - said Teresa Fiore, Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies at Montclair State University, when asked how the idea for creating a panel discussion on Joseph Stella was born.

    Early in November, a panel discussion titled Joseph Stella’s Futurism between Italy and the U.S. was held at the Billy Johnson Auditorium of the Newark Museum (49 Washington Street, Newark, NJ). This educational and attention-grabbing event was organized and sponsored by the Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies at Montclair State University (New Jersey), in collaboration with the Newark Museum, the Consulate of Italy in Newark, the Embassy of Italy in Washington D.C. and the Department of Art and Design at Montclair State University. 

    The purpose of the panel was to shed light on the personality and life work of Joseph Stella, Italian born, American Futurist painter (1877-1946). An artist whose contribution to Futurism, and particularly American Futurism, is inexpressible, yet his name remains little known to the general public and those who know of him rarely know of the diversity of genres he painted, beyond the depictions of industrial America. The key objective of the presentation was to draw attention to the many faces of Stella’s work and to present the audience with a complete portrait of the artist, his life and his work: Stella as part of the Futurism movement and his role in bringing it to America, his life as part of the New York artistic avant-garde, Stella as the Italian immigrant and the works that resulted from his true presence in the everyday life of the blue-collar workers.

     

    The evening started with a special opportunity offered to a small group of guests to view some of Joseph Stella’s works in the collection of the Newark Museum but not currently on display, which was then followed with a guided tour of the museum. The tour astutely ended in front of Stella’s celebrated Futurist polyptych “Voice of the City of New York Interpreted,” a five-panel altar-like rendition of the city of New York.

    A large audience awaited in the auditorium for the prestigious group of announced speakers. The director of Newark Museum, Mary Sue Sweeney Price, welcomed everyone and spoke briefly about hers and the museum’s role in this project and introduced Dr. Teresa Fiore, who in turn thanked everyone who had made her endeavor of bringing this panel from an idea to realization possible. Beside the gratitude for the collaboration of the different entities involved, she spoke about the essence of the project and her initial attraction to the subject matter. Next to address the audience was The Consul of Italy in Newark, Andrea Barbaria, who spoke about the Consulate’s involvement and the insertion of this project into the calendar of cultural events in the celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Unification of Italy.

    Subsequently, Dr. Fiore introduced the speakers. Ara H. Merjian, Professor of Italian Studies and Art History at New York University, presented his treatise titled "The Feet of the Stars: Stella’s New York Future." His scholarly essay, accompanied by a slideshow presentation gave an erudite and solid background on Joseph Stella and his work, allowing those in the audience unfamiliar with the artist’s work to gain fundamental understanding of Stella’s style. Art Historian and Curator at Whitney Museum of American Art, Barbara Haskell, offered her expertise on the artist by introducing her in-depth work titled "Joseph Stella: The Conjunction of Worlds." As the title suggests, she introduced the audience to Stella’s different worlds, in art and in reality. She spoke of Stella as the man torn between two countries, his homeland Italy and the immigrant America, to then demonstrate how this feeling of constant misplacement and yearning for what was left behind resulted in various styles and specific subject matter of his paintings. Stella’s most recognized subject might have been the city and industrial America, but she presented an entirely OTHER side of Stella, one whose paintings can be called “a romantic celebration of joy.”

    The next panelist was Renato Miracco, an art critic, Museum Curator and Cultural Attaché at the Italian Embassy in Washington D.C. Expert on Futurism, with his presentation, titled  “Stella and the Futurists: Italian Itineraries in the American Museums," he aimed to cover the subject in depth. Having followed the detailed presentations of the previous panelists, he decided to change course and present only what he found most relevant to grant a complete understanding of Futurism. He stunned the audience with an amazing onomatopoeic performance of a Futurism March “Parole in Libertà.” He then introduced the broader project that he created and into which this panel was inserted. Pellegrino D’Acierno, Professor of Italian and Comparative Studies at Hofstra University “wore Stella’s hat” for the evening as he presented "A Reading from Stella’s Notes," and to the audience’s amusement he bore a striking resemblance to the artist himself. The evening concluded with a Q&A period and an array of refreshments, sponsored by the Italian Consulate in Newark, were served.

    As New Yorkers we tend not to leave the city in search of cultural events, and this mindset may keep us from enlightening experiences such as this panel. A twenty-minute train ride divides New York City and Newark, and as I stepped off the train and wandered over to the subway station, I found myself at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge and I stopped and smiled. It had a new meaning to me tonight. It was Stella’s bridge tonight, and for the first time, the bridge I saw and walked many times before, felt Italian. Initially I thought to myself that this was a truly ironic ending to the evening, because it seemed that Joseph Stella just could not escape from being associated with this landmark, but then I stood there for a while, just like Stella used to do and I realized that it was a wonderful and serene finale, because now I knew the OTHER Stella and I knew that I would never think of him again as “the one of the bridges.” Joseph Stella now had a new identity. He was the artist who is not afraid to try new things, one who is open to novel ideas and concepts, a risk taker, a dreamer, an avant-garde painter, an immigrant that yearned for the old and searched for identity in the new, an Italian and a New Yorker, an innovative leader of an art movement and a commoner and a local amongst the Lower East Side immigrant population. I felt as if I knew the man…

      

  • Fabrizio de André, the so-called Italian Bob Dylan.
    Art & Culture

    Crêuza de Mä: A Tribute to Fabrizio de André

    NYU’s Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò doesn’t cease to amaze, continuously providing the public with culturally enriching events on its premises. Not a week goes by without a well-organized educational or artistic affair held at this venue. Recently, it hosted a touring lecture-concert in tribute to Fabrizio de André, the greatest Italian singer, amazing songwriter and a storyteller of poetic dimensions.

    The seats of the locale filled up quickly on a crisp fall evening. The grand piano stood firmly in the middle of the stage, its keys impatiently awaiting to be touched. The lights were dimmed and a video montage on the screen commenced the performance. The peaceful voice of De André flowed from the speakers, reaching far beyond the ears of the listeners, it touched their souls, it crawled under their skin, it created goosebumps. It is this voice that they all revere, it is this man they came to pay tribute to, it is this genius that they rightly worship.

    Born on the 18th of February, 1940 in Genoa, Fabrizio de André discovered a fondness for poetry, music and theater in the early days of his schooling, and although he tried to follow a more structured path in life by enrolling in law school, yet he never allowed music to disappear from his daily routine. He always played the guitar and violin, getting his inspiration from George Brassens and Medieval troubadour music. He released his first record in 1958 and his musical career took off full speed in the late 60’s. What followed is considered to be the most important part of the history of Italian music. Fernanda Piavano, an Italian poet said of De André: “Fabrizio is the greatest poet of the last fifty years in Italy, […] he is that sweet storyteller who, for the first time, put forward ideas of pacifism, non violence and nonconformity. Instead of saying that Fabrizio is the Italian Bob Dylan, it would be necessary to say that Bob Dylan is the American Fabrizio De André.”

    The idea of the traveling tribute to the icon of Italian music was born out of the publication of Ferdinando Molteni’s and Alfonso Amodio’s book titled Controsole. Fabrizio De André e crêuza de mä. The book is based on the 1984 interview that the artist gave in his native region of Liguria. The interview, a long lost interesting document analyzes the birth, production and destiny of De André’s most famous album, one in which he finds his way to the roots of his existence.

    The presentation included readings and explanations by the authors, Molteni and Amodio, which retraced most important stages of De André’s life as well as highlighted parts of the book. The performance was elated by the inclusion of vocals from the artist’s repertoire performed by an astoundingly talented Genoese artist Eliana Zunino and accompanied by a highly skilled pianist Elena Buttiero and Molteni on guitar. Together they have delivered a praiseworthy concert honoring De André and his return to, in this particular album, native Genoa and its almost vanishing dialect and culture.

    In the discovered interview De André states: “To lose one’s own origins in music, in literature, or pretending to forget them, pretending to never have had them, to follow the trend of the market, it is like losing one’s own instinct.” 

  •  Pure love by Honas.
    Life & People

    Are You Ready to Art Your Food?

    What’s more Italian than food and art? Perhaps food and art mixed together! On November 4th, 2011 the 2nd Annual IMAF Festival Competition and Exhibition was launched worldwide with a press conference held at the Italian Cultural Institute of New York, inviting artists with its clever slogan - ART YOUR FOOD.

    The competition aims to bring light to international artists, who strive to connect culturally diverse countries using a common link, the comfort and richness of food. The theme of this year’s contest is “Food and Migration.” Artists are invited to submit entries under four categories: film, music, literature and visual arts.

     The Attaché for Cultural Affairs, Art and Cinema of the Italian Cultural Institute, Simonetta Magnani welcomed all attendees of the conference and introduced the guest speakers. Subsequently, the Vice Consul General Lucia Pasqualini wished the organizers of the competition and the artists best of luck on a project she finds “innovative and extremely interesting.” She also declared New York as “the best place to host an event that speaks of food and migration because New York is a melting pot of cultures.”

    Rosella Canevari and Elena Maria Manzini, the co-directors of IMAF introduced the rules and general structure of the competition as well as announced the addition of a new location for the final event of the festival, which excitingly will be held during the Olympic games in London, July 2012. Submissions for the art competition will be accepted online until April 15th, 2012, via http://www.imafestival.com/en/registration/

     
    45 finalists will be chosen by a combination of public votes and a panel of expert judges, and will have their work showcased in Milan, where a single winner of each of the four categories will be chosen. Furthermore, Stefano Berni, the administrative director of Grana Padano, one of the festival’s sponsors, revealed a Special Prize in the visual arts category to be awarded to an artist whose art submission will be inspired by Grana Padano products.

    An accomplished Sardinian artist, Georgio Casu, then presented an entertaining example of such work on screen, creating a logo out of a picture of Grana Padano cheese. The Cesare Pavese Foundation will award a Special Prize in the category of literature and the Babel Channel will sponsor the prize in the film category. Also, one of the 45 finalists will be chosen as the recipient of the prestigious Audience Award, which will be based solely on public votes as all the contest entries will be visible on the IMAF website.

    Ms. Manzini then introduced a new part of the festival, which is to be “an international showcase of contemporary and culinary art of Olympic proportions.” The SPORT YOUR FOOD EXHIBITION, created by Rosella Canevari and curated by Paolo Marchi – a renowned food critic, pairs five international chefs with five worldwide artists and requires them to collaboratively represent one of the five Olympic sports “in a creative fashion via a culinary recipe and an artistic interpretation.” The five chef-artist teams were announced during the press conference, and were represented by artists Gregg Lefevre and Shingeru Oyatani and chef Hooni Kim.

    The press conference was followed by non other than a succulent tasting of cheese, wine, and olive oils provided by the festival’s sponsors. Among the supporters of this wonderful project are: Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, Milan’s local and provincial government, the Italian Cultural Institute and the Consulate General of Italy in New York, as well as the Italian Cultural Institute and the Consulate General of Italy in Los Angeles and many more.

    For official rules and more information visit: http://www.imafestival.com/en/OFFICIAL-RULES/

  • AcquAria, singing about Sicily.
    Art & Culture

    AcquAria, the Sound of the Sicilian Sea

    A fishnet covered a screen displaying softly moving waves of a peaceful sea. This simple, yet fitting, decoration welcomed and set the mood for the audience gathered in the auditorium of NYU’s Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò in anticipation of the performance of AcquAria, another Southern Italian cultural event held at this intimate venue, this one paying tribute to the sea.

    AcquAria is a group that draws inspiration from Sicily, its culture, people, history and especially, its music. The lead vocalists of AcquAria are Michela Musolino and Vincenzo Castellana, both uniquely talented young individuals capable of instantly enchanting the audience with the first sounds of their song. Ms. Musolino not only possesses an exquisite and powerful voice but is also a talented percussionist in the Sicilian tradition. Mr. Castellana’s talents beyond singing include the ability to play different instruments, some of which are rarely heard of, such as: the friscalettu, brogna or the marranzanu. This evening the duo was accompanied by Arturo Martinez on the guitar, Vito Galante on the double bass and Thomas Chess on the flute and mandolin. Together the talented artists presented the audience with an ethereal performance that carried all away to the faraway beaches of Sicily.

    Upon the initiation of the performance with a song based on the legend of Colapisci, a Sicilian boy who loved swimming so much that he turned into a fish, the serene image of the sea in the background became alive due to the sound effects that the artists created with seemingly simple instruments. Mr. Castellana used a seashell horn while Ms. Musolino created the sound of the surf using grains of rice and swirling them gracefully in a large tambourine. Before beginning each song Ms. Musolino stopped to explain its meaning, legend or storyline. The songs talked about everything from ill-fated lovers immortalized as swordfish in a song titled U Pisci Spada, written by Domenico Modugno, to tragic events, as that of the deadly earthquake and tsunami shattering Messina and Reggio Calabria in 1908 depicted by a song written by Luciano Maio and titled Gricalata.  The concert did not fail to include songs of celebration, the tarantellas, upbeat, fast-tempo pieces to which Musolino and Castellana danced and twirled to, playing the tambourine and beating the castanets.

    The duo, with the help of three talented musicians painted a vivid picture of the Musica Sicliana. It is evident that they are passionate about what they do and most of all about relaying and infecting the audience with that passion.  Ms. Musolino says of Sicilian music:  “It is the force of desire and the force of the accompanying emotions that make Sicilian music stand apart from other traditions. It is this desire and these emotions that touch one’s soul and connect one to others be they our present neighbors or be they a people who lived centuries ago. The rawness and the truth of such desires and emotions are understood by all. At the end of physical life, only memories remain. These memories captured in song reach across centuries to bind us together transcending our modernity, our cultural differences and our varied beliefs. Sicilian music reflected the cycle of life, not in real time, but in humanity’s time.”

    Culturally rich events such as this one, held in the cozy atmosphere of a small venue are a great way to learn about history, experience the new and unknown or to stay close to one’s own roots and heritage.

  • Cover of the Dictionary of Contemporary Art in Italian Sign Language.
    Art & Culture

    Silence Speaks About Art

    Have you ever stood in front of a modern, contemporary work of art and found yourself in search of the right words to describe what you are looking at? What if the words you needed to describe modern art never existed? What if you knew they were available but only in a foreign language? This, unfortunately, is the reality of people who rely on sign language to interact with the world. The difficulty is not solely in the communication but in the unavailability of  words to communicate with.

    As part of the 11th Italian Language Week around the World, the Italian Cultural Institute of New York hosted a presentation titled Silence Speaks About Art. It was an unveiling of the Dictionary of Contemporary Art in Italian Sign Language published by Allemandi and created by the collaboration between the Education Department of Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art and the Turin Institute of the Deaf. This bilingual (Italian/English), wonderfully illustrated book introduces 80 new signs to the Italian Sign Language, all of which are specific to the contemporary art world. The purpose of this lexicon is to allow the speech/hearing impaired the pleasure of interaction with contemporary art by removing the previously existent barrier due to the lack of vocabulary.

    First to speak at the presentation was Brunella Manzardo, a researcher and Access program coordinator from the Education Department of Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art. She gave the audience an introduction as to how the project brings together the world of art and sign language, two fields that have not had the opportunity to interact even though both are closely linked to the visual dimension. Giving a background of the research project, she portrayed its route from a mere idea to the finished product, highlighting the many new opportunities that were created along this road for the hearing/speech impaired to interact with the contemporary art world. She emphasized what the lack of specific terminology meant to the deaf community: “there used to be a distance between deaf people and contemporary culture: not having such a linguistic heritage strongly limits the possibility for the deaf to fully appreciate modern and contemporary art and to visit museums and exhibitions without feeling excluded.”

    Consequently, Enrico Dolza, a professor of Sign Language at Turin University and of Linguistics at the University of Bologna talked about the technical aspects of the creation of this lexicon and explained how and why the gestures were chosen to represent specific words. His presentation was assisted by a live demonstration of the new signs executed by Luciano Candela, a professor and researcher of the Italian Sign Language. This formed an interaction with the audience, initiating an interesting conversation between representatives from the American Sign Language Institute and the panel, which expanded on the differences between American and Italian signs.

    The representatives from the American Sign Language Institute noticed that many words included in the new lexicon were actually available in ASL. Professor Dolza explained that this is not due to English being richer in vocabulary but rather because “the lexical scarcity of [Italian] sign language in a specific matter can sometimes be more similar to that of certain dialects or minority languages.” He then pointed out that: “this is not because this language has not in itself the potential resources to talk about everything, but only because no one has ever spoken about certain subjects in that particular language.”

    Closing the presentation was Anna Mecugni, an art history professor at Vassar College and a lecturer at the Museum of Modern Art, who provided a final, compelling view of the history of contemporary art. 

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