Thursday, February 11, 2010

Spring is coming!

February 7th
dear friends,
a busy busy week and a half
To catch up:
Wednesday night January 27th we attend Arvo Part concert at the Rienzo Piano hall. The music was magnificent —stopped time. Early work was my favorite but perhaps just as I own much of it on cd, so that it has become a known habit? The new work attempting larger more ambitious interstices moving away some from his eastern influences, from Russian orthodox vocalizing. So interesting to hear his minimalism coming from another direction than the American minimalist composers of the 20th century (Glass, Reich, Riley). Instead of conceptual radical gestures, these are spiritual gestures—not unlike, on thinking of it, the radical Malevich paintings of white and black from the early 20th century. In St. Petersburg, on entering the Russian museum, are dual portraits of saints larger than life size by the famous painter Andrei Roublev, their robes black and white rectangles approximating the size of the Malevich’s canvases. Goes far to explaining both M’s choice and his turn to religious themes later in life. I own three Suetin drawings from the 1920s that likewise look like Bauhaus color studies but the forms he is using are the Russian cross (!). So much for secular modernism.

On the unreligious front, we had the next day a talk by Lauren on Trophys: sharp witty clipped presentation enunciating their difference—on occasion, a sign of territorial expansion; on another, driving home the fear of the imperial conquerer.

Friday a walk with Corey on the Campus Martius, covering the Theater of Pompey, the Campo de’Fiori, the Chiesa Nuova, San Giovanni Battista dei Fiorentini and its Museum to end a the Oratorio del Gonfalone. Too many churches have shuttered through my brain but the sculpture of the girl warrier, very Joan of Arcish by Michaelangelo early in his career sticks as do the strange paintings all over the Oratorio—now used for music choirs (maybe always?) and the pillars drawn there, which Bernini copied when he did his very odd terrific columns for the Vatican.

Meanwhile a discovery an hour or so away from Rome of extant aqueduct that 1800 years ago brought fresh water to Trastevere and leads under the Academy in the basement! Hmmmm does this mean I need to put a river through my install? which will open mid April in the basement. Maybe. On that end, Michael Lee my intern from Cornell and I today came up with a possible title: EMPIRES’ FALL. It works I think and as I am hoping to put China film on wide screen TV on steps leading down to the Cryptoporticus itself (the magnificent arched basement here), it makes sense. Two empires, two catapulting transitions. We shall see. Hoping to shoot part of it next week.

Then Yael Bitton came from Paris. Funny she arrived Tuesday hands wide saying ooops I have a cold. And I too! So two of us sniffling, correcting, perfecting RIDING THE TIGER: Letters from Capitalist China. We really did wonderful work, got close, worked very hard. Now struggling with MORE techne, this time the omf sending—sound to you citizens.

We also got to go into town and see the Andrea Pozzo and the Pantheon. I include pictures from the Pozzo, a trompe l’oeil magnificence. The pictures will wow you I am certain. Yael left and I was sad. Yael’s wisdom as person and editor was in high thrust this trip. Really delightful.
Sad to see her leave. Back to my role as ‘hitchhiker’ ie a bit of a stranger with no context. I mentioned same to Nancy at Roma’s opening Friday night and surprise—she felt the same. It was good to hear it. She opined that because I am working so hard I muse be adjusted but of course I am not completely. Missing you all my deep amici! Just to let you know. Send back your love.

Meanwhile Friday afternoon did the big shoot of Diodati. Will put in photos later when receive courtesy of Nicholas who played an excellent Dr. Polidori. Tremendous push on mine and Mary’s part to get everything together. It did rain, which I wanted but made the light hard. We kept closing in to the window---but of course my focal plane was collapsed (when you open for the light, you get less depth of field. Film #101). Eileen did wonderful, sad thoughtful struggling with her Frankenstein bourning inside her (burning?), pushing back Dr. Polidori with a smile—very light. Best work she has done I feel. Aurelia distant and then light, seducing Byron. Richard as Byron, always very lordy! even with his iphone in view (ooops), Nick great in his crazed scene running from the room! I hold my breath and hope it worked. Just watched the video which is terrific. The villa is an excellent space and the fellows/actors do a great job occupying it. Now—to double check that the video can be used WITH the film altogether. I haven’t had time yet to edit and try that out, but this shoot and Mary’s skill building, makes me want to. Yea! We see this Friday hopefully…..

That evening Roma Pas, the Dutch artist opened. She handled the space well: two large rooms with very high ceilings. She worked her witty conceptual pieces into comments on Rome—her name the place: sycamore trees became stone columns, picture frames became a pyramid, clay became marble. So —transformations through material and shape. Good work.

Saturday afternoon was deep crazy massage with Bulgarian who announced as I lay down that Spartacus came from Bulgaria! I didn’t quite know what to make of that. He was rough tough and good. My body transformed. Then Stephen Westfall rescued me from work at 8pm to go out to dinner with him at Le Mani en Pasta, with risd friend Holly Hughes the painter (not the performer) and her husband who does exhibition curating at NYU. Very nice energetic folk and the meal was spectacular: mussels and clams (vongole), octopus appetizer, then spaghetti a la mare with green gnocchi. Topped by fragile (wild) strawberries and tiramasu. Incredible tastes and relatively cheap! 25E each for such a fine meal. Light in the stomach/ perfect on the tongue.

Sunday was quiet; sun came out. Michele showed up from Cinecitta (a student) with Saree for my birthday from David D. Gorgeous--felt so ...well like a butterfly actually. I am going to get Asha here to teach me how to wrap. amazing purple gold colors. then we went to cocktail hour and Michele did fine. He is very social; trying to get me to lecture to Cinecitta students (it is the national film school); he was very struck with THE PURSUIT and the improvisatory, 'fresh' he kept saying way in which i shoot and react. He also spoke of a retrospective at the National Film Cinematheque here—so that would be wonderful as well. It would be great to 'seed' the system.

Speaking of systems, I keep watching the WIRE which gets sadder and sadder. They have moved into the schools and everyone has such a hard time. Funny collapsed dialogue and true to life setting. A crippling critique of United States’ democracy from every angle: the young, the police, the politicians. And now when Obama is being attacked by all; just read this morning that wall streeters are giving money to Republicans—of course what could we expect?— I feel so sad. So obvious the need. So little the response. We live in a world where humanity is crippled; its constantly only for ME and not for ALL. I asked earlier and it still holds: who will make the addition?

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