Saturday, May 29, 2010

May 29th Trustee Week!

May 29th 2010,
I believe I will be playing catchup for the rest of my time here, or at least the next month.
It is wild living at such a furious pace. I feel I have been invited to a week long party on an island and I am stuck here! Its really rather lux but even too much lux is too much. We are in middle of trustee week, with open studios last Thursday after last Tuesday’s opening at Santo Spirito at Sassio.

Began the week mounting the show at Santo Spirito. Stressful as location built for me was quite small. I made mistake of giving image dimensions not room dimensions, but piece looked spectacular nonetheless—many people attested….! It was MIRRORWORLDS in its original three-screen incarnation, now shown on single wall, as secular altar piece, supposedly middle image larger but the small space made this hard to obtain. Left Santo Spirito Monday a bit unsettled to return Tuesday where we repaired as best we could. The opening itself went well. Many people, including some friends—the surprise of Magdalena Campos Pons and Carrie Mae Weems plus husband. Carrie seemed taken with MW. An independent curator friend of Giovanna’s showed up, very complimentary as was James Baron, another independent curator with whom my paths have crossed numerous times while here in Rome. His wife Jeannette is an accomplished photographer—enjoyed her book immensely, a less theatric Nan Golden but looking at same social set.

Next door to the enormous, aged golden rectangular space with 50 ft ceilings where we were exhibiting, was another space the same size. Not as well installed in fact but with many wonderful pieces. The show from a collection, I believe—of contemporary work. The Clairbout lovely and transcendentally clever, a beautiful Burri in reds and brown, an interesting heretofore not known Polish woman playing with light and space, a noisy video that said nothing but had a powerful percussive beat belaying the entire room, an early reflective Eliasson,

Wednesday came and Mary, my invaluable assistant, and myself set up for Open Studios for Thursday. This involved immense cleaning and moving and rearranging and imagining how to make the space work showing 3 different pieces. Ended up with Shelley dailies large in front (5x6 ft) , 2 portrait dvds from L’impero Invertito playing in left back , shaping the corner, rather small 2x3 ft projections. Across the way, right back was flat-screen monitor with The Future Is Behind You, to show my inspiration and what dailies might get shaped into (dangling preposition if not daring one).

Exhausted but happy with results and had 300-400 people come through. No less than 10, up to 30 at any one time. Here's a pix of one couple who seem to have followed my work. THey said lovely things in Italian that I could understand.
Some people loved the portraits from the installation, others The Future, others the Shelley 'dailies'. NO one seemed to see the conjunctions between them, or talked about all three in any interesting way. Robert Storrs came by late, was noncommittal, really did not spend enough time to warrant his “I’ve seen enough”. Ouch.

Mostly felt quite good: I had done a quick edit Wed night of Shelley footage, after leaving the job till too late (really), was tipsy a bit after dinner, but wanted still to make a longer dvd than I had had November last. Well…I really didn’t leave enough time……veramente. Got started processing the edit at 1am. Went to bed and woke up at 5ish am feeling anxious about technology involved. At 5:30 got out of bed and went to studio (had to pull on clothes, feeling grubby) to check. Well..there was a real problem and I realized it wasn’t going to make it by 6pm for opening. So there at the last moment., opened up my new computer that I just received the day before (bow to Lauren K. who carried back) and got it going. Did a version upgraded to new computer and had to re-back up some files that were on my itunes on old computer, not in capture scratch (okay this is tech talk…read on skip on).
After doing that, worked fine. Another hitch with new version of compressor, solved with Mary on phone (that girl is a tech wizard) and an hour and half later, I had the dvd! Okay speed is worth it!

Backwards two weeks, after arriving from nyc, we had a walk entitled “the other Rome” which involved traveling to various 20th century worker’s utopic housing units. May 7th a Friday. Still haunts. Pictures to follow in another post.

First up: Villagggio Olimpico by Adalberto Libera and Luigi Moretti, near the Renzo piano auditorium. These were housing for communal workers built in 1958-60 for the Olympics. Recently – 1998 – they state has sold the apartments to the renters who wanted to buy them and so they are slowly going on the market. Roberto our guide, pointed out the two story houses on pilotis by Libera. “These work as a repeated module on a cross plan with a stair in the empty middle space that leads to the four apartments per floor.” Very 50s 60s suburban, flat walls with half or full windows. The backs more interesting to me: the detailing of the concrete and floor to ceiling windows that were narrow and yet had a balcony feel. Suddenly no longer international style 50/60 modernism but a more original detailing of roman meditarranean dimension. And out the back fittingly, nature has grown wild, interacting with these rationalist buildings (rectangular shapes and ordinary materials) creating unexpected differentiations. “The randomness of how things have developed is what gives these buildings their humanity”

Then on to San Policarpo, a church next to a fantastic park. Built in 1960 by Giuseppe Nicolosi. Simple and very visible use of materials—concrete and metal— used in a striking vertical plan, odd, even shattered, or rather torn, yet placid.
The setting a long extended park with roman aqueducts in distance. Presumably a neighborhood where Pasolini shot. Now much changed: a kind of suburbia (really outskirts of rome) splaying out from park. Quiet.

Circling on ward, starting from the north and moving clockwise through the city we come to Unità d’Abitazione Orizzontale built by Adalberto Libera in 1950-54. These are 200 apartments of one story houses with small enclosed gardens and on a block plan. Reminded one of California single story homes. The shared blocks are not for cars and thus have all manner of plants and flowers, both communal and diverse. Pleasant and room for a bicycle although at this distance you might want a car. Nice green space and low density indeed. All the blocks are painted in different colors to distinguish and individualize the streets.

Quartiere Tuscolano II which I don’t remember as well was built in 1950-54, another post war developemtn of high buildings funded by the state as part of recreating the economy and giving modern housing to the many persons leaving the countryside to move to the cities in search of work. INA casa projects exist almost everywhere in the country, from Bologna to Matera. In Rome there are many other INA csa projects as Tiburtino I, II and III; Tuscolano I, across the way; Quartiere Ponte Mammolo; Quartiere San Basilio, but this is the largest. 35,5 hectares 3150 apartment for approximately 18,000 inhabitants.The long v shaped building is by De Renzi Muratori while the star shaped 9 story towers with 4 apartments per floor are by De Renzi alone. [much of my informative notes are from our guide Roberto Caracciola].

San Saba I and II: IACP housing project built between 1907 and 1923 by Giovanni Bellucci and Quadrio Pirani. Interestingly the mayor at that time, Ernesto Nathan, was English and Jewish (! Reasoning re romevs papal politics). He brought this English sensibility, creating small houses, with northern ‘piedmontese’ details: two stories in general with gardens in front and back. A more spacious Park Slope, Brooklyn? Glorious place to live indeed. Now quite valuable. a great example of housing in what was then a relatively new capital of the country. 567 apartment and 1952 rooms.

Garbatella—the most unique of the Roman neighborhoods. Coincidently our yoga teacher has just moved into one of the larger buildings. Built between 1921 and 1940 the overall plan was by Gustavo Giovannoni and Massimo Piacentini. 26 hectares, with individual houses by De Renzi and Marconi. Separated into large and small buildings, irregular blocks, running up and down hills south of Testaccio— the small buildings lovely, not individual houses but doubles, some 4 apts to a building. In one block all different styles but all within traditions of Italian architecture, whether with ships’ rail or farmhouse stucco roof and porch. Beautiful gardens. It is jasmine time.

We in the academy swoon coming into the Cornile.

In Garbatella, the blocks have signs in which the fascist symbol has been hammered out.

Then Corviale outside the city, nearer the airport. 1972- 1982 By Mario Fiorentino, Federico Gorio, Piero Maria Lugli, Giulio Sterbini and Michele Valori. The design on the walls are by artists Nicola Carrino. A huge narrow housing project. A city within a city but without charm and as result, all that was to be correlated to the residential apartments never came into being abandoning the inhabitants to their devices. Instead of being dynamited like US failed housing projects. This monstrousity, out in the wild so to speak is left alone. The tenants no longer pay rent. So though relatively far from the city with no amenities—no schools or supermarkets close—it is still inhabited, less dangerous than before with expensive cars in the parking lot.

I’m sleepy so for now I will sign off. Ciao.

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