Category: Italy

What I’m reading.

Roman copy of a 5th Century BCE Greek bas relief depicting Hermes, Orpheus and Eurydice, from the Museo Arqueologico Nazionale in Naples. (Image courtesy of Skidmore.)

A Visit From the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan. Page 214 (from the first Anchor Books edition):

He sensed the proximity of the Orpheus and Eurydice before he saw it, felt its cool weight across the room but prolonged the time before he faced it, reminding himself of the events leading up to the moment it described: Orpheus and Eurydice in love and newly married; Eurydice dying of a snakebite while fleeing the advances of a shepherd; Orpheus descending to the underworld, filling its dank corridors with music from his lyre as he sang of his longing for his wife; Pluto granting Eurydice’s release from death on the sole condition that Orpheus not look back at her during their ascent. And then the hapless instant when, out of fear for his bride as she stumbled in the passage, Orpheus forgot himself and turned.

Ted stepped toward the relief. He felt as if he’d walked inside it, so completely did it enclose and affect him. It was the moment before Eurydice must descend to the underworld a second time, when she and Orpheus are saying goodbye. What moved Ted, mashed some delicate glassware in his chest, was the quiet of their interaction, the absence of trauma or tears as they gazed at each other, touching gently. He sensed between them an understanding too deep to articulate: the unspeakable knowledge that everything is lost.

Miscellany. 06.13.11.

Train graffiti in Italy makes a visual reference to the country’s current nuclear power referendum, the first of its kind. (Photo by fabrye.)

Ai Weiwei’s Detention
I feel like I’ve been uncharacteristically silent on artist Ai Weiwei’s imprisonment by the Chinese government, partially because the news of what happened caught me while I was on the road. The short of it is that Ai’s detention is now entering its third month and blogs such as Art City, Eyeteeth, Modern Art Notes and Hyperallergic have been covering the hell out of the story, so read them!

Image courtesy of Akmezero4

Naturally, a lot of the talk is about how U.S. museums and other Western cultural institutions should deal with China’s imprisonment of Ai, a figure who has been a vocal critic of his government’s corruption, censorship and negligence. (The government is accusing him of tax evasion.) Certainly, I think it’s important to have powerful institutions protest Ai’s detainment, as well as the imprisonment of countless other intellectuals, writers and activists. Keeping pressure on the Chinese government from all angles is key. But I also think we each have a personal connection to what’s happening, supporting an oppressive regime by slavishly purchasing the goods that come out of the country, be it the latest, hottest iWhatever or the bounty of pressed wood furniture that lines our living rooms. Even the rebel flag shot glasses that clutter so many gas stations in a wide swath of our country are…made in China. Yes, it’s significant that our cultural institutions protest Ai’s detainment. But I wonder how effective these condemnations can be as long as we continue to support such an oppressive regime with our wallets.

My 15 Nanoseconds of Fame

Cruising in Brooklyn

I made it onto Google Street View while riding my bike in the vicinity of the Brooklyn Museum. (Full disclosure: I saw the Google car and followed it for a few of blocks because that’s the kind of cheap, internet fame whore I am. Sorry, Joerg.) The whole thing inspired me to look up some of the addresses I’d lived in over the course of my life on GSV— the vast majority of which aren’t online because my family had a penchant for inhabiting incredibly bizarre, out-of-the-way places. It was a trip back in time, except it wasn’t, because I’m seeing all of these spots in the pseudo-present. (A selection: the place I was born in, the road leading to the house we lived in when I was 10, the donut shop where I used to ditch high school English class and the college dorm that was the site of various inebriated indiscretions.) Which brings me to this highly interesting essay — which I discovered by way of Conscientious — about photography in the age of GSV.

Random Linkage

The Digest. 11.15.10.

Train graff in Naples, Italy, 2009. (Photo by C-M.)

The Digest. 08.02.10.

Wedding Day. (By C-M.)

The Digest. 05.12.10.

Nunca, in Milan. (Photo by the wonderful *fab*.)

The Digest. 01.29.10.

Os Gemeos at Galleria Patricia Mocida in Milan. See more flix at Fecal Face. (Photo by *fab*.)

The Digest. 08.10.09.

Graffiti feet in Rome. (Photo by Celso.)

Congrats to the I-Man for winning the C-Mon Giveaway Extravaganza, Dudamel edition.

A Day at Cinecittà: San Suzie visits fake Rome, fake Assisi + fake NYC.

Rome, recreated: The set for the HBO series Rome at Cinecittà. (Photos by San Suzie)

In 1937, everyone’s favorite Fascist, Benito Mussolini (he’s actually the guy who coined the term) founded a movie studio to create propaganda films for his Nazi-sympathizing regime. Dubbed Cinecittà (‘Film City’), the studio was heavily bombed by the Allies during the war, and afterwards, its soundstages were used to house thousands of Italians who had been displaced by the war. By the 1950s, however, Cinecittà had turned into the hub of La Dolce Vita of Italian filmmaking, serving as the set for most of Federico Fellini’s films, and even American blockbusters such as Ben Hur.

Getting a tour of Cinecittà is about as easy as getting a private audience with the Pope. But, with a few well-placed phone calls by‘s high-powered Hollywood agent, we managed to wrangle our way into a guided tour of the studio’s incredible backlot on a positively sweltering summer day. We saw everything from the satanic-looking sculptures that appeared in Angels and Demons to a recreation of the hilltop town of Assisi where St. Francis received the stigmata (“it’s too steep and inconvenient to film there,” said our guide of the real Assisi). Most significantly, we got to see the house where Grande Fratello, Italy’s version of Big Brother is filmed. The highlight, however, was walking through the $20 million dollar set for HBO’s Rome, a sprawling set of painted temples and forums that gave us a far better sense of the Imperial City than a year’s worth of trudging through ruins.

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