Wednesday, March 10, 2010

March 10th, Roma

March 10, 2010

A quickie as I have been working for an install upcoming April 15. It would not be such a crush but I shot third week in February, then went to Egypt, two and half weeks back to get draft of 20 minutes of two films (usually could take me a year for that long a duration!) and then off to Sicily for 10 days next Wednesday, return with three weeks to open. Ahhhh making me a bit crazy though hard to complain with such wonderful travel upcoming.

Luckily (in terms of work load perhaps?) the weather has returned to winter, 50 degrees and rain, then sun, then a rainbow, then rain. Cooler at night. But the flowering trees are everywhere. The gardener in me says—this just means a longer spring.

However Robert Hammond and I are determined to swim in Sicily so Sun please do come on!

Sunday last we went to the country to bio-farmer who is one of the suppliers for the Academy. Took van down with the kitchen crew. Advantage of waking early and there we are in a valley, ugly town but spectacular location ringed with snowy mountains, lemons and oranges hanging heavily from trees, acid yellow mimosa in bloom and yellow mustard in fields. The yellow saturating my eyes still.

Great food predictably. By the third course we thought we were done but the main was still to come. They wanted to marry me off to the 33 year old son. Quite handsome, a bit grey and guess they hadn’t really suspected my age. All the cooks are in their twenties or so, looked too young for him I guess [though too young for Italy is an oxymoron for sure]. Stuffed and happy with the clean air and warm family, we came home in Sunday traffic . A very Roman adventure.

The day before we spent the day looking at art : a show of American photographer Stephen Shore in our local Trastevere museum. Walked down with several fellows including visiting artist Luca Nostri who is an Italian photographer (friend of Tim Davis), who was wonderful in front of photos explaining and historicizing each print. Turns out my colleague at Sarah Lawrence, Joel Sternfeld had written an article about one of the prints on view—illuminating. Then joined in the afternoon my Canadian friends Adair and Ross for visits to the Barberini and the Contemporary museum in the Borghese park. It was Giorno di Donna and you are to give blossoms of mimosa—in season—to women, and all state and national museums had free admission for "our fair sex". Yes!

The Barberini had a great Tintoretto and Holbein portraits, a Bernini Medusa to die for (or was that in the Capitoline from last week?; i think all these pictures are.] and of course the famous Raphael of his mistress —set within the splendor of the villa. The contemporary Museum was a crazy space with dark painted walls on first floor and crowded with stuff—mostly unknown ( to me) Italians. Early Balla and then late futurist Balla were interesting to see the enormous changes and the beautiful canvases of his futurist work. Some of the Manet influenced work was also lovely and a little piece I will look up the name of a back of a green truck on a highway, named "autobahn at night", gorgeous, geometric, fluid brush strokes, humorous, quotidienne, graphic—most modern thing there, painted in 50s. Who is this guy?! Radical clear vision. Upstairs a women’s show with cast of characters I am mostly familiar with but wonderful wonderful Cindy Sherman work from before Movie Stills that I had never seen. Little self portraits against her loft wall with photo release wire showing (as in much of her work) and plaster seam of wall as she enacted bus passengers: girls, boys, black, white, old young, men women. Wonderful. Amazingly clever but also good hearted. The illusion was incomplete and then complete. Her sense of humor foregrounded and particularly welcome in a show dominated by melodrama and ideology. We finished by visiting the elegant museum café with fresh grapefruit juice=spremuta di pompelmo compressa fresca. squisito

Bused back which was cold waiting. Italian public transport always speculative.

Academy Shop Talks keep happening: Jon Calame on the Roma, the gypsies, was interesting, shotgun facts and painful photos. Tomorrow is Stephen Westfall’s. He has painted the walls of the gallery 40x40 x40 feet with tile patterns. Lots of students helping but it is a gigantic task.

Me—I’m going a more modest route. Right now I need a name for the show that will be installed in the cryptoporticus: “Adjustments to Empire” or “Adjustments in Empire”…something a bit more catchy perhaps? Suggestions welcome.

Last night watched Nuovo Cinema Paradiso for my Sicilian ‘report’ we are all required to talk about something during our trip. I had avoided this film when it came out thinking it would be horribly sentimental but it is anti-nostalgic actually, asking that you leave home, forget your mother, do not go back where everything stays the same. Quite beautiful, sentimental in the most serious way and found footage at end touched my heart (as it was supposed to). All the pieces that the local priest had cut out: of couples kissing, sexual, sensual! Wonderful.

On that note, un abbraccio a mi amici. Più al mio ritorno dalla Sicilia.

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