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Articles by: Roberta Cutillo

  • Via the High Line
    Art & Culture

    A Flash of Contemporary Italian Fashion on The High Line

    ‘Borders: A Flash of New Italian Fashion’ is part of a project by Italy’s National Chamber of Fashion titled CNMI Camera Club, aimed at promoting the contemporary face of Italian fashion. It was conceived by the Consulate General of Italy in New York, along with the Italian Trade Commission and the Italian Embassy in DC.


    As you access the exhibition through the 16th street entrance of the High Line, a former elevated freight line turned public park; a symbol of requalification and creativity, you walk under an industrial “archway” of sorts, constructed out of metallic tubes. The title of the show flashes across a couple of LED display screens.


    The exhibition is constructed like a path: two pairs of mannequins, one on each side, greet you as you enter the space. Their outfits belong to the collections of two of the four emerging brands presented there: Dorian Stefano Tarantini’s M1992 and Giorgio di Salvo’s United Standard.


    It immediately becomes clear that you will be experiencing something different from what you might typically associate with Italian Fashion. These first two sets of mannequins sport casual mises, each heavily influenced by the urban landscape, albeit in unique ways.


    Going forward, you come to the central part of the exhibition, a place where you can congregate and even sit down on one of the two long benches facing a large screen surrounded by other smaller monitors, three on each side. The main screen shows a video created by Francesco Petroni, shot in relatively unknown locations in Puglia.


    It features extremely young actors/models, mostly teenagers, and communicates that sense of lightness and freedom, which can only be found in the summertime. The other clips were made by the designers themselves to present their collections: all of them very artsy and sometimes provocative, mostly with a general vintage feel, though each brand showcases its personal style and aesthetic.


    You then get to the other two sets of mannequins, one pair wearing the designs of Mauro Simionato’s Vitelli Maglieria Italiana, and the other clad in Magliano by Luca Magliano. These can be considered more traditional in their tailoring perhaps, but stand out because of the bold colors, patterns and materials employed.


    Particularly attractive is the piece from Magliano’s women's collection, which features a wide purple plaid menswear-inspired jacket (complete with pocket handkerchief) and a matching T-shirt over a pair of wide tailored black pants, also seemingly inspired by 1940s men’s dress pants but made out of leather.


    The exhibition was curated by Creative Director Giangi Giordano, himself very young and based in Milan, like all of the designers. Giordano, who on the May 16th opening night was wearing a beautiful vintage Prada ensemble and intimidatingly high MiuMiu heels, explained that the idea was to present a different side of Italian Fashion, younger, more dynamic, more diverse, and more aware of and involved in the global scene.


    “We wanted it to be just a glimpse, a flash,” he explains, “to show that the Milan fashion scene is dynamic, always changing, not something static.” And, in fact, the show will be on view on the High Line only through May 17, during which it will be open to all visitors.


    These four designers were selected for this initiative because they best represent the younger Milanese Fashion scene, in which they are all quite well established. It’s an environment characterized by its connection to various aspects of urban life, including the club scene, (some of the designers are, in fact, DJs themselves) and the art scene.


    As it is composed mostly of very young people, it’s also a very connected world: one that is very aware of current global issues and engages with them. Particularly, all four designers share a strong focus on sustainability, a central issue in the contemporary fashion world and beyond.


    The opening night was hugely successful, the space was packed with a surprisingly diverse crowd: younger and older generations, New Yorkers and Italians, creatives and Institutions. The Italian Ambassador, Armando Varricchio was there, as well as the Consul General of Italy Francesco Genuardi and the director of the Italian Cultural Institute, Giorgio van Straten. The Director of the Italian Trade Agency, Maurizio Forte, and the President of the National Chamber of Fashion, Carlo Capasa, were also present.


    In their speeches, they all emphasized the importance of teamwork and collaboration and of cultivating the already strong ties between Italy and the city of New York. And you can’t help but agree as you stand there on the High Line, a glass of Franciacorta in hand, savoring delicious treats by Il Gattopardo Restaurant Executive Chef Vito Gnazzo and admiring these beautiful and innovative Italian designs against the backdrop of the sun setting over the Hudson River.


  • Facts & Stories

    Mayor Sala on Milan: Culture, Sustainability, And Above All Inclusivity

    Just as Milan is often described as a standout case amongst Italian cities, its Mayor Giuseppe (or “Beppe” to his friends and numerous Instagram followers) Sala can be considered an unusual politician, who appears to be generally beloved at a time in which politicians are generally not so well regarded.  


    His intervention at NYU’s Casa Italiana was introduced by a short video of the institution’s founder and benefactor, the late Baroness Mariuccia Zerilli-Marimò, herself a proud Milanese. In the clip, she talks about the reconstruction of Milan and particularly of La Scala, the famous Opera House, after World War II.


    She underlines how, despite their poverty and lack of resources, citizens immediately got organized and began rebuilding the City and its symbols, actively contributing to its rebirth. Milan has more recently begun undergoing another rebirth, of which Mayor Sala is a major actor.


    The City has in fact seen significant growth in various sectors in recent years, despite the difficult economic situation in Italy and across Europe. Up until a few years ago, Milan was seen exclusively as an industrial city. It has since then begun an intensive and very effective rebranding process. Sala explains that they are working for a mixed model, promoting three key aspects:


    They wish to present Milan as a university city, not a stretch considering that of its 4 million inhabitants, 200,000 are university students. And the goal is to increase this number, particularly by attracting more international students. One major challenge that the Mayor recognizes in this is the lack of affordable housing, something on which both the municipality and certain universities are working on, by envisioning campuses, for example.


    Another important aspect is of course creativity: Milan is already known for fashion and (mostly furniture) design. The idea is to reinforce this perception and to expand it to represent a more contemporary and cross-disciplinary understanding of these creative fields.


    And finally, tourism. In the past years, investments in culture, museums, and events such as the 2015 Milan Expo, (of which Sala was the CEO and Chairman) regarded as the turning point for the City, the symbol of its cultural rebirth, put Milan on the map as a central tourist destination, which now sees around 9 Million tourists each year.


    Sustainability is also a key issue that all mayors have to deal with and one in which Milan has taken significant measures, by expanding the almost incredibly efficient metro system, (Sala promises that they are working on the fifth line which will take citizens from the airport to the city center in just 15 minutes) beginning to replace all busses with electrical ones, installing car, scooter, and bike sharing services, and implementing congestion charges and limiting traffic in the city center.


    “As Mayor, it’s not easy to tell people they can’t use their car,” comments Sala, “but you have to show them that it’s the way of the future, that these measures have been agreed on with 40 major municipalities across the world.”


    His is quite a daring approach, many cities, including New York, are considering measures to reduce waste and pollution, such as implementing congestion charges, or eliminating plastic bags, but often these plans are halted if they are deemed too unpopular and could threaten future elections.


    Also daring given the current political situation in Italy, is Mayor Sala’s position on immigration. Along with other mayors, including Orlando (Palermo) and De Magistris (Naples) as well as others all over Europe and even here in the US, Sala goes against the anti-immigration approach sustained by the central government.


    “Milan wants to promote solidarity,” he comments, adding that “in Italy, immigrants constitute 9% of the population, in Milan they are 20% and it works.” So the problem doesn’t lie in the number of migrants, but in the organization, in the way the system works.


    According to Sala, the “solution” to immigration is creating work for everyone. The Italian government, however, is not embracing this approach. When immigrants arrive and are registered, they are put on a waiting list for two years to find work. In some cases, municipalities can try to take what should be the government’s role into their own hands. Sala cites an instance in which the CEO of Starbucks came to Milan to open a store there and he agreed on the condition that 5% of its employees be chosen amongst migrants waiting for their application to process.


    Still on the theme of migration, the Mayor of Milan shares a story from his current US trip. “I went to visit the new museum on Liberty Island and asked how many ‘Sala’ were registered arriving through there,” he says. “There were about 2000. Then I asked: and how many ‘Salvini’? Over 250.”


    Though it’s only a joke, this anecdote perfectly captures the absurdity and hypocrisy behind the nationalist and xenophobic approaches adopted by political leaders in Italy and across the world.

  • M. C. Escher, Hand with reflecting sphere
    Facts & Stories

    Italy's Self-Image Problem

    “La penisola che non c’è” (the peninsula that isn’t there) is the title of Nando Pagnoncelli’s new book, an essay which reflects upon the growing reliance on polls within politics and warns of the potential threats of “sondocrazia,” that is of using polls to govern.


    As the President of IPSOS Italia (a leading global market research and analysis agency,) Pagnoncelli is certainly qualified to discuss the topic. Some have even pointed out how it seems strange that a warning against polling comes from the head of a polling agency himself, but the author argues for a more conscious use of such tools, in order to avoid political instrumentalization.   


    “Polls,” he writes, “should remain a tool for knowledge,” and not become “an oracle that points the way.”


    As politicians increasingly focus on public opinion and how to win it over, the role of public polls, which determine and try to predict it, is changing. We see political leaders pursuing public consent as an end in of itself and, as they start to gain it, they can influence it.


    One major issue that emerges from the analysis of public opinion is that often groups or even entire countries share a distorted perception of reality. This is particularly true in Italy.


    It’s no news that Italians believe their situation to be worse than it actually is. Some time ago, for example, it was revealed that Italian citizens thought immigrants constituted 30% of the population while in reality they only represent 7%.


    This misperception extends to various sectors. Amongst the 14 different countries analyzed by IPSOS, Italy was found to be the one with the most distorted self-image: overall, we believe that we are poorer, sicker, and more unemployed than we really are, that our economy is much more fragile and weak, and our crime rates higher.


    One of the consequences of this is that, instead of correcting these misconceptions, the public discourse surrounding these issues actually enlarges them, creating a vicious cycle. We see this in the way the migrant and economic “crisis” are presented (sometimes sensationalized) by the media and, more alarmingly, by politicians.


    Knowing what citizens already think and reinforcing it, allows politicians to gain their trust and eventually their consent because people like to be told that they are right. And if someone tries to contest certain claims, arguing that they are not accurate, political figures can easily respond by throwing the results of public opinion polls at them, as if they were in and of themselves proof of indisputable facts.


    Though these considerations are quite bleak, Pagnoncelli ends his book on a positive note, claiming that younger generations, who are now starting to engage in politics, can resolve this situation by being aware of the problems we are facing. Public awareness is in fact the key to this issue and to the main aim of the book.


  • Photo Courtesy of Marco Sabadin/Vision – Matteo De Fina
    Art & Culture

    Venetian Tradition and Sustainability: The Laguna Goes Red

    On May 11, during the opening week of the Venice Biennale, Venetians and visitors saw the North Laguna turn red for the trial run of the Red Regatta: a site-specific public artwork by American artist Melissa McGill.


    Organized alongside Magazzino Italian Art Foundation and Venice’s Vela al Terzo Association, with the support of Mazzoleni and the participation of over 250 collaborators throughout the city, the project curated by Chiara Spangaro and managed by Marcella Ferrari consists of a Venetian “regata”, a race of traditional “vela al terzo” sailboats.


    Only, for this occasion, the artist had each sail hand-painted a different shade of red. The result is a spectacular choreography; the different reds reflect and mix on the surface of the water, illuminating the Laguna and the city.


    Red Regatta will take place on June 30 on the North Laguna, between the islands of San Servolo and Poveglia, then again on September 1st on the San Marco basin, as the opening to the annual Historical Regatta, and a final time on September 15 back in the initial location. These performances will be visible from different parts of the city, which can be found by consulting the interactive map on www.redregatta.org.


    Melissa McGill is an interdisciplinary artist living and working in New York. Having lived in Venice from 1991 to 1993, she often returns to the Italian city and had previously created pieces that simultaneously celebrate its beauty and tradition and reflect upon the challenges it faces, such as her 2017 work “The Campi,” a series of sound sculptures invoking daily life in a Venetian “campo” (square) while also highlighting its precariousness as Venice is increasingly taken over by tourism and citizens forced to move out.

    With Red Regatta, McGill wishes, on the one hand, to celebrate the Venetian tradition of the regattas as well as pay homage to the city's history; in fact, the color red can be found all throughout Venice, in its terracotta roofs, its flag, in the paintings of Titian, Tintoretto and other Venetian masters.


    At the same time, the work is also intended to bring attention to the issue of climate change and particularly the melting of glaciers and rising of sea levels, which threaten the city and this very heritage.


    The project is the first artwork to be registered as a “Clean Regatta,” the sustainability certification for water-based events created by Sailors for the Sea in order to mobilize navigators in protecting the sea through good practice and activism. Throughout the duration of the Biennale, the artist will participate in public talks and labs about art and activism alongside partners such as Ocean-Space and No Longer Empty.


    Also important is the collaborative aspect of the work, which saw the participation of over 250 members of the local community and was conceived to involve and entertain the citizens and honor their love for Venice.


    Red Regatta “will contribute to the maintenance, conservation, and restoration of the typical Venetian vessels (“vela al terzo” boats, e.d.) belonging to the Municipality,” commented City Commissioner Giovanni Giusto, then adding that this collaboration strengthens the bond between Venice and the United States, “This way the colors of Tintoretto, which are exhibited in the National Gallery of Art in DC, return to the Laguna.”


  • High Line Photo by Timothy Schenck Courtesy of the High Line
    Art & Culture

    New Sustainable Italian Fashion on the High Line

    An event aimed at promoting new and sustainable Italian fashion, ‘Borders: A Flash of New Italian Fashion’ will take place on May 17 on the High Line, itself a symbol of both culture and sustainability located above New York’s trendy Meatpacking and Chelsea neighborhoods.


    Part of a CNMI’s Camera Club, a project aimed at promoting the contemporary face of Italian fashion, it was conceived by the Consulate General of Italy in New York, along with the Italian Trade Commission and the Italian Embassy in DC.


    The event, curated by Giangi Giordano, is conceived as a multidisciplinary exhibition, presenting the collections of four young Italian fashion designers alongside musical performances, videos, images and light shows. One of the goals of the show is, in fact, to stress the interconnectedness of contemporary fashion with other forms of creativity. Most of the designers are themselves DJs and producers as well.


    The featured brands are Dorian Stefano Tarantini’s M1992, Luca Magliano’s Magliano, Giorgio di Salvo’s United Standard, and Mauro Simionato’s Vitelli Maglieria Italiana: all young labels deeply influenced by street style and urban culture, while also characterized by typically Italian styling and production know-how.


    To highlight the sustainability aspect, which is central in contemporary fashion, garments will be shown on biodegradable mannequins produced by leading Italian mannequin manufacturing company Bonaveri.


    Another important feature is inclusivity, for this reason the event will take place on the High Line, a beautiful suspended public park already known for promoting public art projects and initiatives. It will be free and accessible to all New Yorkers and visitors throughout the entire day.


    The closest entrance is the one located on 16th Street and 10th Avenue. For information on how to access the High Line visit: https://www.thehighline.org/visit/


  • Art & Culture

    Remains of a Sunken Migrant Ship Become a Biennale Piece

    The 58th Venice Art Biennale, one of the world’s major international art events, opens this week and everyone is already talking about Swiss-Icelandic artist Christoph Büchel’s contribution, a project titled “Barca Nostra,” which means “our boat,” also a play on “mare nostrum” (“our sea”), a Roman name for the Mediteranean, as well as the name given to the operation launched by the Italian government in 2013 to tackle increased immigration and migratory ship wreckages off Lampedusa.


    For this work, the artist, who has already been known to carry out political and provocatory projects, recovered the wreck of a fishing boat that sank between the coast of Libya and the Sicilian island of Lampedusa on April 18, 2015, causing the death of 700 to 800 migrants, and had it installed on the shore of the Arsenale, one of the Biennale’s exhibition spaces.


    In 2016, the ship was recovered from the seabed and brought back to a NATO naval base in Augusta, Sicily. Obtaining it was not an easy process, as there were other proposals for its use and no official owner. “The government had recovered it but officially the defence ministry had only custody of it, not ownership. And officially shipwrecks in Italy are supposed to be destroyed,” explained Maria Chiara di Trapani, a Biennale curator.


    This project was strongly wanted by Ralph Rugoff, the curator of this year’s Biennale titled “May You Live in Interesting Times.” As is always the case considering the quantity and variety of the works exhibited, the theme is multifaceted and can be interpreted in a myriad of ways, but its name certainly reveals the intention to conjure discussions about the times we live in and the phenomena they are characterized by. Migration is undoubtedly amongst them and this work confronts the theme in a powerful way.


    The April 2015 shipwreck is one of the deadliest to have ever taken place in the Mediterranean, but it is by no means an isolated case. The sight of this ship, broken and rusted, is terribly ominous because it immediately conjures up the countless other vessels that have met and continue to meet similar fates. It is described as “a relic of a human tragedy but also a monument to contemporary migration, engaging real and symbolic borders and the (im)possibility of freedom of movement of information and people.”


    The work “invites silence and reflection,” comments the President of the Biennale Foundation Paolo Baratta, who reveals that the intention in including it in this year’s Biennale was to “move people’s consciences.”


    “We are living in a tragic moment without memory. We all look at the news, and it seems so far away,” explains Ms. di Trapani, who hopes that actually seeing the ship first-hand, feeling its presence will help change that.


    After the Biennale, which will end on November 24th, the wreck will be brought back to Augusta and placed in a new monument called “Giardino della Memoria” (“Garden of Memory”), a collective memorial dedicated to the migrants who have lost their lives at sea.


  • Art & Culture

    Celebrating Baroque Composer Barbara Strozzi: Interview with Elena Biscuola

    For some time now, through various collaborations, NYU Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò has been exploring the theme of gender in Renaissance and Baroque Italy and particularly the representation (or lack thereof) of the women who contributed to shaping the cultural landscape of the time.


    “I Sacri Musicali Affetti”, a concert organized alongside Salon Sanctuary Concerts, brings attention to the works of the prolific yet virtually unknown singer and composer Barbara Strozzi 400 years from her birth.


    The concert, which will be held on May 10th in Manhattan’s St. Francis Xavier Church on West 16th street, will be performed by six female artists coming from different parts of the world, including Italian mezzo-soprano Elena Biscuola. The other performers will be soprano Jessica Gould, Paula Chateauneuf and Catherine Liddell (theorbo), Christa Patton (baroque harp), Katie Rietman (baroque cello), and Caitlyn Koester (chamber organ​.)


    We spoke with Ms. Biscuola to find out more about her and discuss her passion for Baroque music and the importance of celebrating the often forgotten or overlooked work of the remarkable women of that period such as Barbara Strozzi.


    Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Where are you from? Where did your passion for music come from?


    I come from Monselice, a small town with an interesting history and beautiful landscape. I love the place where I live and the possibility to be in contact with nature while also being very close to Padova, a seat of Italian Art History, home to the Scrovegni Chapel, to one Italy’s oldest universities, and to the resting place of both Saint Anthony and of the great Barbara Strozzi herself.


    My passion for music began when I was 6 years-old thanks to my family, who always made me listen to classical music, from Beethoven to Mozart, and especially Vivaldi. Thanks to Vivaldi I developed a passion for the Baroque right from the start, even though I initially dedicated myself to the study of piano and then successively at 14 I had the chance to sing in the chorus of the musical institute I was attending and to get closer to Renaissance and Baroque music. In that moment I decided I would only be happy if I became a singer. So at 18 I enrolled in the conservatory where I studied lyric singing, then chamber music, and finally baroque singing. And I have been working with Baroque ever since.


    You perform at many concerts and events all over the world, is there one that was particularly significant to you? Do you have a favorite piece?


    I had the chance over the years to tour Europe and America, including North (United States), Central (Mexico), and South (Argentina and Chile) and each place has left a positive mark. Of course, in European classical music festivals, such as the ones in Bruges, Utrecht, Gent, Ambronay and Royaumont you breathe classical music every day and have the chance to make interesting encounters and cultural exchanges that would otherwise be more difficult to come across, but in the United States, where I have had the chance to go on long tours, I encountered such love and curiosity for both Italy and classical music that I was deeply touched.  


    Throughout my career I sang much unpublished music that was discovered in Bolognese and Venitian archives and I have to say that I love discovering and giving voice to “hidden” music, but I also gladly sing Vivaldi, Monteverdi, Porpora, Haendel, Pergolesi, ect.


    Pergolesi’s “Stabat mater” is probably the piece I have sung the most in all my life and every time I learn something different and fascinating, even though my main inspiration remains Bach for his genius and originality.


    And what about the upcoming concert, “I Sacri Musicali Affetti”? Were you already familiar with the work of Barbara Strozzi?


    I’m very happy to be able to sing this collection by Barbara Strozzi, of which I knew about but had never had the chance to study. I like her idea of exalting certain saints and of giving voice to their emotions. For example, the story of Saint Peter incredulous in front of Jesus walking on water, or even the final montetto dedicated to Saint Anthony, which reveals itself as an ode to joy dedicated to the “Santo” with multiple melisma on the words “cantate” and “Sancti Antoni.”


    I’m very thankful to Jessica Gould for this opportunity and for the commitment and love that she has towards Italian music. I’m also thankful because before this project, she had also given me the chance to sing another piece by Strozzi, “Lacrime mie”, an absolute masterpiece of 17th century Italian music, with orientalizing tones and harmonic audacity.  


    Despite having been one of the most prolific composers of her time, Barbara Strozzi’s work has remained fairly unknown up to now, why do you think that is?


    Regarding the lack of interest on the part of musicologist for “I Sacri Musicali Affetti” I think there might have been some reserve in considering this “sacred” music because it is vaguely erotic in its construction and very bold harmonically, which was unusual for the time.


    The word “affetti” (affections) had however already been used, even by Monteverdi, and was tied not only to religious feeling but also to the affection and passion for art, music, spirituality. Affection is a passion of the soul, a desire for good and hatred of evil.


    Why is it important to “bring back” and celebrate her work today?


    I think it’s important to celebrate Barbare Strozzi for her courage and originality. Along with Francesca Caccini, they were the only women at the time who were able to compose, even in alternative ways, in a world that was exclusively male.


  • Art & Culture

    Celebrating the Art of Saving Art

    Founded in 1969 by General Arnaldo Ferrara, the Comando Carabinieri Tutela Patrimonio or TPC was the first specialist force dedicated to combating art and antiquities crimes in the world. To this day, it remains the largest and most respected, having recuperated almost 2 million artworks in total.


    An exhibition titled “The Art of Saving Art, Fragments of Italian History” is on view in Rome’s Quirinal Palace, the seat of the President of the Republic, to celebrate the Comando TPC’s 50th anniversary. President Sergio Mattarella was present at the inauguration on May 5th and recognized the immense work carried out daily by the now 300 TPC officers located all across the country.


    The Minister of Cultural Goods and Activities, Alberto Bonisoli, and the General Commander of the Carabinieri, Giovanni Nistri, also attended the opening.


    The show curated by Prof. Francesco Buranelli features a variety of artworks (109 in total), ranging from looted antique vases (such as the famous Euphronious Krater, a looted vase restituted to Italy by the Met in 2008) to stolen paintings by artists such as Van Gogh and Cezanne, and many more. What ties them all together is that they were successfully recuperated by the Carabinieri.


    “The 300 men of the department, organized into 15 divisions, operate all across Italy and they are excellent investigators: they even have specific competencies, for example, there are archeologists, musicologists, experts on ancient languages,” comments General Fabrizio Parrulli, head of the TPC.


    The pieces are arranged into five sections in order to illustrate all the different activities carried out by Italy’s “Art Squad.” Three rooms are dedicated to the art crimes committed in Italy, one focusing on the lootings of ancient artifacts from the tombs in Cerveteri, another centered around Renaissance art, and the third showing the work of the Blue Helmets of Culture who retrieve cultural objects from areas hit by earthquakes or conflicts.


    The Carabinieri of the TPC work all over the world, as art crimes are at times part of larger cases often involving criminal organizations and therefore transcend national borders. Their expertise also provides valuable specialized support to peace-keeping missions in war-torn areas such as Iraq from 2003 to 2006 and now in various areas across the Middle East, where important cultural heritage sites are being torn down during armed conflicts and by extremist militant groups wishing to send a message.   


    The work they carry out is extremely important because by protecting our cultural heritage they help to preserve our identity.


    Another particularly interesting aspect of the exhibit is that each object is presented alongside the story of its disappearance and retrieval, which oftentimes seems to be taken right out of a mystery novel or heist movie.


    The final section of the show looks to the future and also to the works that are still missing, such as the Nativity by Caravaggio, which was stolen from a Church in Palermo in 1969 and remains lost to this day, though a sophisticated digital reproduction hangs in its place, awaiting the return of the original.


    “We hope that the bill to raise the penalty for art theft goes through so that we may have more tools at our disposal,” explained Gen. Parulli.


    The exhibition will be on view in the Palazzina Gregoriana of the Quirinal Palace in Rome through July 14, 2019. To visit you must reserve your tickets beforehand on the website of the Quirinale.


  • Art & Culture

    Magazzino and Casa Italiana (NYU) Present Renato Leotta

    For their third collaboration aimed at promoting Italian artists in the US, Magazzino Italian Art Foundation and NYU Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò chose to showcase works by Renato Leotta, a young but established Italian artist currently in residence at Magazzino in Cold Spring, New York.


    “Magazzino is the most lively institution that promotes contemporary Italian art in the United States,” commented Stefano Albertini, the Director of Casa Italiana “we are very privileged to be the venue to which they dedicate every year the exhibit of a young but already established Italian artist.”


    Renato Leotta, who lives and works between Acireale (Sicily) and Turin and was the most recent Italian fellow at the American Academy in Rome, uses various media in his practice to explore the forces of nature and their interconnectedness.


    “It’s important to give a venue for Italian artists to showcase their work in New York,” explains Nancy Olnick, co-founder of Magazzino along with her husband Giorgio Spanu, “and what better place than Casa Italiana, where the students and faculty can get acquainted with art that they would not usually see.”


    The exhibition opens with seven photographs, all part of a series titled Lunagrammas, (“moongrams”) a new project launched by the artist during his Cold Spring residence, featuring images of the moon captured from a camera obscura submerged in the Hudson River.  


    Leotta also expanded upon ongoing projects, creating works such as Two Hands, a sculptural installation on view in the third gallery. This work, part of his Gipsoteca project, is composed of two sets of four sand relief sculptures, half of which were cast on Portuguese beaches while the others were realized on the Long Island coast. Here, the artist seeks to capture the moment of contact, the encounter between sea and shore, on both sides of the Atlantic.


    Another liminal moment is represented in the works from the Multiverso series, which Leotta realized by dipping strips of cotton fabric into the sea, thus creating or recreating a horizon line, the point where the sky meets the sea.


    A work which appears to stand out from the rest is LUCE, a 16mm film shown on an old cubic TV set placed in the corner of Gallery 1 and featuring an out of focus lemon tree. This piece is actually part of a work titled Notte di San Lorenzo, a site-specific installation made out of perforated terracotta tiles, which connects the artist’s lemon grove in Sicily to the Hudson Valley landscape. Leotta had realized a previous iteration of this work in Palermo’s Palazzo Butera on the occasion of the 2018 Manifesta Biennial.


    This installation will remain on view on the grounds of Magazzino throughout the Summer.


  • Facts & Stories

    Milano 2020: Promoting LGBTQ+ Tourism

    Milan is already amongst Italy’s most LGBTQ+ friendly cities and so, as this year’s International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) Annual Convention (held in New York City) comes to a close, it seems fitting that the Lombard city should host the next edition, which will take place in May 2020.


    Home to over 25 LGBTQ+ associations, to one of the country’s largest Gay Prides, among other cultural initiatives, Milan was the first Italian city to develop an LGBTQ+ neighborhood (Porta Venezia) and most importantly to open a registry of Civil Unions, once they became legal in 2016.


    The city now launches the Milan Loves You campaign, a project by the Sonders and Beach tourist agency and endorsed by the Municipality and by Enit (the Italian National Tourism Agency) with the aim of promoting the next IGLTA 2020 Convention.


    The IGLTA is the world’s leading network of LGBTQ+ welcoming tourism businesses. It was founded in 1983 and provides free travel resources and information while continuously working to promote equality and safety within LGBTQ+ tourism worldwide.


    The 2020 convention, which will be held at the iconic Castello Sforzesco, one of the symbols of Milan, will welcome around 500 tour operators, journalists, LGBTQ influencers from all over the world.


    According to Tourism Commissioner Roberta Guaineri, this event “is important for business but also from a human rights perspective and a collaboration between privates and institutions is fundamental for the promotion of non-discriminatory hospitality. We are working towards Milan becoming welcoming of everyone and able to answer to the needs of all travelers.”


    Alessio Virgili, CEO of Sonders & Beach and  IGLTA Italian Ambassador explains that the goal of the campaign is to use Milan 2020 as a springboard for the promotion of LGBTQ+ tourism in Milan and beyond. “Based on the results of previous editions,” he comments “we expect an influx of 2 million euro during the 3 days of the convention in the city of Milan alone and a 60% increase in the volume of tourists in the following year.”


    So far, Italy (which, let’s face it is not amongst the most LGBTQ-friendly nations) has not catered towards LGBTQ+ tourism, a complete loss considering that, as another Italian Ambassador, the actor and journalist Alessandro Cecchi Paone, notes “members of the LGBTQ+ community travel, spend money, and set trends.”


    Hopefully, the Milan Loves You initiative along with the 2020 Convention, beyond favoring the Milanese and Italian tourism industry, will help set new standards within the sector, making Italy a place where all visitors, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation can feel safe, welcome and have a great time.