Monday, July 30, 2012

Venice Gondoliers on TV in Singapore

Bryan Wong & Lorenzo Brunello with Mediacorp crew
(Venice, Italy) Bryan Wong is a television star in Singapore, and the host of a Chinese-language Mediacorp program called JOBS AROUND THE WORLD. He travels the globe focusing on unique occupations, and learns them hands-on. The Singapore branch of Kuoni Travel, a global travel company, contacted me after they read my interview with a gondolier named Simone entitled:

Conversations with a Gondolier

Mediacorp thought that a gondolier would be an interesting job to highlight, and I agreed. The problem was to persuade the gondoliers to do the show. There are only 425 gondoliers on the entire planet, and they only exist in Venice, Italy. These days, the only way to become a gondolier is to be born into the family. 

To me, they are one of the few remaining natural Venetian resources, as well as being the most recognizable image of Venice throughout the world. Even though their job has morphed into transporting tourists, the skills they need to navigate in the waters of Venice have remained the same over the centuries, as have their hand-crafted gondolas. 

The gondoliers were very wary about doing a television show about themselves, especially one in Chinese, a language they did not understand. In addition, they had to speak in English, the only common language, which would then be translated. The gondoliers do not speak Italian amongst themselves, but their own version of Venetian, and to find a gondolier who was willing to go on television and could speak English -- let alone train someone from Singapore how to row -- was not easy. 

Venetians are kind of like American Indians; the gondoliers in particular are a unique sect. Nobody knows exactly how the gondoliers operate, not even the other Venetians. They even speak a different form of the Venetian language, and have evolved their own rules and ways for self-preservation. Venetians themselves are secretive, and the gondoliers are secretive to the extreme. 

The gondoliers have been in movies and television shows before, but usually as part of the background scenery of Venice. They have never revealed themselves on a personal level, nor spoken about the particulars of their job. They don't speak on camera unless they are playing a role, and are very protective of their image. 

Plus, you just can't find them! Every day they change their location, so a gondolier will be at one place one day, and in an entirely different location the next. You can't always get them on the phone, and they have no real office. So doing business with gondoliers -- if they will even agree to do so in the first place -- is an experience like no other. 

Cat & Lili - gals behind the scene
I saw it as an opportunity to present their work to the world in an honest and respectful way so that others would appreciate how difficult their job was, and acknowledge their special place in the Venetian infrastructure. The gondola is an ancient method of transportation, a unique boat designed particularly to navigate the Venetian canals and lagoon. 

Venice itself is a city that defies the imagination, and plying the tricky waters is no easy task. And personally, as an American, I found the challenge of working with the Chinese and Venetians very exciting, a chance to bring these two vastly different cultures together to create a television show. It required a huge amount of diplomacy, but I thought that as long as everyone approached the project with the highest integrity, it would work. We spent more than a month and a half just negotiating, laying the foundation and the tone the program would take. I met over and over with the gondoliers, and transmitted their thoughts and concerns back to the Chinese. The gondoliers were strong and clear about what they would and wouldn't do, but very reasonable. And you know what? It worked beautifully!  

On Wednesday, July 25, two gondoliers and I met with the crew from Singapore, together with a local Venetian guide named Giovanna Puppin, who, amazingly, spoke Mandarin Chinese, Venetian, Italian and English. It turned out that Giovanna knew one of the gondoliers, which put them immediately at ease. Together we discussed the story board, the form the program would take. In my prior life, I had been married to a television director in Hollywood, and would accompany him on nearly every aspect of his job, so I knew a bit about shooting a television show. 

Lorenzo Brunello & Bryan Wong
The crew was respectful and enthusiastic, and we all felt comfortable in their presence. They would phrase their requests, "If you would do us the honor..." It was refreshing to communicate in such a civilized fashion. Bryan Wong, the host, was charming and charismatic, with a vibrant energy that translates well on camera. And, Lorenzo Brunello, the gondolier who was chosen to represent the gondoliers of Venice, was a natural. He was comfortable in front of the camera, and graceful behind the oar. Lorenzo is a seventh-generation gondolier, which means that his great-great-great-great-grandfather was a gondolier! 

Marco Polo's House
We started shooting on Thursday, July 26, bright and early. Lorenzo showed Bryan how to clean the gondola and get it ready for the day. Then it was off to scout the area where the actual gondola rowing instruction would take place, down by Santi Giovanni e Paolo. We followed the crew in a boat taxi, the Rialto Bridge majestic in the background, past the Malibran Theatre where the house of Marco Polo -- the great Venetian traveler who visited Kublai Khan in China -- once was. Just navigating down there in the morning, with the canals clogged by transport boats, ambulances and boat taxis, made me appreciate the gondolier's work more. 

Then it was down to San Pietro di Castello to visit a squero where gondolas are still constructed by hand out of wood to this very day. It was a great privilege to be allowed to take a peek inside. For the first time I was able to look the front of a gondola square in the eye, and notice how it is built asymmetrically to balance the use of one man and one oar. 

Gondolas under construction
Next it was lunch at Taverna del Campiello Remer, where the owner, Angela Cook, had graciously allowed the crew to shoot inside. Gondoliers often eat together, but again, it was difficult to find anyone willing to actually be filmed doing such a thing. That Stefano and Marco arrived and made the scene work better than expectations was much appreciated. 

Stefano, Lorenzo, Bryan & Marco at Taverna del Campiello Remer
By that time, the Venetian gondoliers had bonded with the crew from Singapore. I have been on enough television sets to know that either happens or it doesn't, and if it does, that energy transports to the screen. The Singapore crew was professional and friendly, with a relaxed attitude that made everyone feel comfortable and at ease. And Bryan Wong had the unique capacity to create interesting conversations spontaneously and naturally, always with a sense of humor. 

Next, it was time for the rowing lesson! Back down to Santi Giovanni e Paolo we went. Lorenzo taught Bryan how to balance on the back of the gondola, watch out for boat traffic in front and behind, all the while rowing the sleek, black boat with one oar. It was very difficult to do, but Bryan was game, and he soon managed to row without assistance. 

After all that work, everyone agreed to call it a day, and I went back by gondola with Lorenzo to the Santa Sofia Traghetto, the co-op that we had been working with. I noticed a particular gondola docked there that I had seen before, embellished with astrological symbols, and asked whose it was. Lorenzo said it belonged to Simone. I said, "Simone! He's the one who started it all when I interviewed him two years ago." I found Simone, and reminded him of how we had spoken in July, 2010, and how that conversation had now progressed to a television show in July, 2012. It was the perfect end to the first day of shooting. 

The next day, July 27, was my birthday, which started off with me bumping into three of my favorite Carabinieri in Venice, right at the Rialto Bridge. I told them they were a regalo di Dio, a gift from God, and they laughed. Then, over by Santi Apostoli, Giovanna and I were interviewed by Bryan as we got off the gondola with Giovanna speaking in fluent Chinese. To hear a Venetian woman chattering in Chinese was a real delight. Not only does Giovanna have a strong scholarly background in the Chinese language and culture, she specializes in Chinese advertising, communication, branding and marketing, and actually lived in Beijing for more than four years. When he found out it was my birthday, Bryan sang Happy Birthday in Chinese!

We had lunch at Trattoria da Rino, a family-run eatery that can be found just before you cross the bridge to Santi Apostoli. I must confess that after 14 years of living in Venice, I had never eaten there before, even though it has been right in front of my eyes. It was fantastic, simple, home-cooked Venetian food. Lorenzo ordered the gnocci and gave us all a sample, and I have to say it was one of the best gnocci I have ever tasted. Bryan said it was like eating a pillow, it was so soft and fresh. 

After lunch, we all whizzed off to the islands of Burano and Torcello, with Lorenzo driving Bryan in his small motorboat while the rest of us followed in the boat taxi driven by Davide, who's got to be one of the most simpatico boat taxi drivers in town.  

Burano is famous for its brightly colored houses and its lace-making, while Torcello once held the largest population of the Republic of Venice, but these days has a population of around 20 or so people. The main attraction on Torcello is the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, which was founded in the year 639 AD and has a spectacular Madonna over the altar, as well as a rather frightening mosaic depiction of the Last Judgment on the wall. 

Lili & Lorenzo
It was on Torcello that we said good-bye to Lorenzo and Lili, who zoomed off in Lorenzo's motorboat to Piazza San Marco, while the crew filmed some more shots of Torcello. Then we, too, sped back to Piazza San Marco, across the lagoon of Venice, the rays of the sun turning the tips of the waves into sparkling gems. 

It truly was a La Serenissima experience, a peaceful exchange of cultures, a give and take, ebb and flow. I learned so much from both the gondoliers and the Sinapore crew -- it was the perfect way to start a new solar year.

Venice, Italy blog - Cat Bauer - Gondoliers on TV in Sinapore
Cat Bauer - Venice Lagoon

GONDOLIERS ON TV - Jobs Around the World - Singapore

Ciao from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Rufus Wainwright in Venice - Teatro Verde Reborn

Rufus Wainwright at Teatro Verde - photo newnotizie
(Venice, Italy) In his only Italian appearance, Rufus Wainwright sang new life into the Teatro Verde on the Island of San Giorgio last night, July 20, awakening the once-neglected outdoor theatre with his powerful chords and enchanting the audience. Accompanying himself on piano and guitar, Wainwright's music ranged from intensely personal songs sprinkled with references to his friends and well-known family members, to an excerpt from his opera Prima Donna and a William Shakespeare sonnet.

Before the Show
I have kept an eye on Teatro Verde over the years. Back on May 30, 2010, in a post entitled Oxygen - Finally a Breath of Air!, I wrote:

 During the lunch break I wandered back to the Teatro Verde, "a 1,600 seat open air theater nestled among cypress trees and boasting a splendid view of the lagoon." I am quoting myself from a piece I wrote back in 2003 for the Italy Daily section of the International Herald Tribune. I also wrote that it "presents a host of international productions, often in conjunction with the Venice Biennale." Well, it does not do that any more. Right now, it is flooded with a green slime, and the green shrubbery is wild and overgrown, highlighted by wild red poppies. After hearing the last lecture, to me, I'd let the street artists get their hands on it and bring it back to life.

Photo: La Nuova di Venezia
Now, two years later, Teatro Verde is alive again, filled with music and human beings. In 2003 I wrote it had 1600 seats; now I see it has 1166 seats, so perhaps my Italian was so bad back then that I misunderstood the figure:) Built in 1952 by the architects Luigi Vietti and Scattolin Angelo, Teatro Verde is modeled on the outdoor theaters that decorated the villas of the Veneto mainland between the Renaissance and eighteenth century, which were inspired by ancient Greek and Roman theaters. The theater is made of white Vicenza stone steps interspersed with espaliers of shrubbery.

After having sat for around two hours, I found that the stone steps were surprisingly comfortable; the view of the stage was excellent from all points of view, and the acoustics were superb. I don't think there is a bad seat in the house. The concert was well organized, which is not so easy to do on an island in the Venetian lagoon -- especially when you come from out of town. The shows L.i.Ve in Venice, which also include Ludovico Einaudi & Paul Fresu on July 18, and Blonde Redhead on July 21, are organized by Ponderosa Music & Art based in Milano (in collaboration with the Giorgio Cini Foundation and the Venice Comune), who did an impressive job. The performance was seamless except for a couple of broken guitar strings -- Wainwright joked that it was either the humidity or that the spirit of Vivaldi did not want him to play.

Island of San Giorgio
Wainwright said that "Coming to this city is like magically going back in time." He sang Montauk, which was written for his infant daughter, Viva Katherine, and is about Viva coming to visit her two dads sometime in the future. Wainwright is a strong supporter of same-sex marriage, and is engaged to Jörn Weisbrodt, the director of Luminato, Toronto's Festival of Art and Creativity. In fact, he offered a discount to the concert for non-straight couples. According to Wikipedia:

In 2011, Wainwright announced that he and Leonard Cohen's daughter, Lorca Cohen, had had a child. He announced on his website: "Darling daughter Viva Katherine Wainwright Cohen was born on February 2, 2011 in Los Angeles, California to proud parents Lorca Cohen, Rufus Wainwright, and Deputy Dad Jorn Weisbrodt. The little angel is evidently healthy, presumably happy, and certainly very very beautiful."

Montauk, Wainwright's song for Viva Katherine, ends with a memory of Wainwright's mother, the singer, Kate McGarrigle, with whom he grew up in Montreal, Canada, after her divorce from his father, the singer, Loudon Wainwright III. Viva Katherine was born a little more than a year after McGarrigle died.

One day, years ago in Montauk
Lived a woman, now a shadow
But she does wait for us in the ocean
And although you want to stay
For a while
Don't worry, we all have to go
One day you will come to Montauk

Wainwright said that he had come to Venice with his mother several years ago to visit La Biennale, and that his mother was happy that she had seen Venice before she died. He expressed his desire to have the concert documentary Sing the Songs that Say I Love You, which celebrates the life of Kate McGarrigle, screened at the Venice Film Festival.

Wainwright was grateful for the piano that had been provided, saying "I don't often get to play on a gorgeous piano like this." And the piano was spectacular, a Passadori - Steinway & Sons, with rich, pure notes that wafted through the cypress trees. Someone in the audience called out, "Happy Birthday!" which Wainwright acknowledged, saying he was born on July 22, and, with a shudder, that he would be 39-years-old -- which makes him a fellow Leo, born five days before me (and a few years after me:)

The crowd demanded several encores, and Wainwright obliged, one of which was Halleluia, written by Viva Katherine's grandfather, Leonard Cohen. When I first wrote this post, the only clip I could find was from an Irish performance a few years ago. Now I see that another attendee has uploaded a clip on YouTube from the Teatro Verde performance. It is an amateur video, but captures the sound and the emotion, and I like it very much. So you can share in what we experienced on July 20th, out in the open. With fresh air. Free. A gorgeous piano. Cypress trees. E persone simpatici. There should be a concert in Teatro Verde every week. [Update January 21, 2017: That video has vanished; here it is again from Vimeo:]

Ciao from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Rufus Wainwright, Hallelujah, Venice - Teatro Verde from Lys on Vimeo.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Google Doodles Klimt on July 14 - Redentore 2012

The Kiss by Gustav Klimt GOOGLED

(Venice, Italy)

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday dear Gustav
Happy Birthday to you

How old are you now?
How old are you now?
How old are you Gustav?
How old are you now?

I'm 150 years old
I'm 150 years old
I've been bought but not sold
I'm 150 years old.

The Kiss by Gustav Klimt
New Delhi: A painting of a couple kissing is the theme of the doodle on the Google home page on Saturday. The Google doodle commemorating the 150th birth anniversary of the Austrian symbolist painter Gustav Klimt is a reproduction of his most famous work - 'The Kiss'. Some of Gustav Klimt's paintings rank amongst the most expensive in the world.  

Click HERE to read IBN LIVE. 


Gustav Klimt
Giuditta I, 1901
Olio e foglia d’oro on canvas
84x42 cm.
Belvedere, Vienna
Just last week, the spectacular Klimt exhibit at the Museo Correr closed here in Venice. Here's the Venetian Cat - Venice Blog report: 

GUSTAV KLIMT in the Sign of Hoffmann and the Secession


From Wikipedia:
Klimt came under attack for 'pornography' and 'perverted excess' in the paintings. None of the paintings would go on display in the university. In May 1945 all three paintings were destroyed by retreating SS forces.
..This would also be the last time Klimt would accept commissions from the state, remarking: "I've had enough of censorship...I reject all state support, I don't want any of it."
...The paintings were requested for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904 in St. Louis, Missouri, but the ministry declined, nervous of what the reaction might be. Klimt then resigned his commission, wishing to keep his work, but the ministry insisted they were already property of the state. Only when Klimt threatened the removal staff with a shotgun was he able to keep his paintings. 

We can imagine the scene: Klimt, the frenzied creator of the paintings, armed with a shotgun, challenging some bewildered officers from the state who had arrived to take his creations away. ...

... Gustav Klimt believed, "The arts lead us into an ideal realm, the only place where we can find pure joy, pure happiness, pure love." 
...The Kiss, Klimt's most renowned work, is not here in Venice, because, according to Agnes Husslein-Arco, the Director of the Belvedere, "The Kiss does not travel." 

Gustav Klimt
Particolare dal fregio di Beethoven, 1901-1902

Materiali vari

Later in the evening, we celebrated Redentore -- the Feast of the Redeemer -- with fireworks galore. 

Venice, Italy - Redentore - July 14, 2012
Click to read the Venetian Cat - Venice Blog account of previous Redentore festivals for a little history of one of Venice's most ancient holidays. 

Redentore 2011 - Feast of the Redeemer

Ciao from Venezia,

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Australian Architects at the 13th Venice International Architecture Biennale

Richard Goodwin Pty Ltd Australian Pavilion ©Richard Goodwin Pty Ltd
(Venice, Italy) The Australians sent over a press release about what they're up to for the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale, which opens to the public on August 29 and runs through November 25, 2012. Since I am the Venice Insider for Ninemsn, Australia's number-one interactive media company, I have a soft spot in my heart for Australia.

In addition, Australia happens to be the home of one of the coolest rich guys to come down the pike in a long time, Simon Mordant, the Australian financier and philanthropist who declared: "I hope my last check bounces. I want to die with nothing." Mordant is Australia's commissioner for the 2013 Venice International Contemporary Art Biennale, and is also at helm of the funding drive to raise money for the new Australian Pavilion. "I'm really targeting individuals. There's only so long you can stand around talking about your big house and your boat and your car. There's more to life." Perhaps Mordant will inspire other rich guys to enlarge their perspectives.

Here's the press release:

The Australian Institute of Architects unveils the first images

of its exhibition for the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale

The Australian Institute of Architects has unveiled plans and preview images of its exhibition, Formations: New Practices in Australian Architecture, which will open at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale this August.
As new economic, social and cultural challenges present themselves, the exhibition at the Australian Pavilion will act as a catalyst for discussion and debate around the changing role of architects and the ways in which they influence the world around them.
Building upon the Common Ground theme set by the Director of the 13th International Architecture Exhibition, David Chipperfield, Formations will explore concepts that unite the architectural profession, whilst celebrating points of difference. This will be communicated through a programme of events that will run alongside the exhibition, including workshops and informal discussions between international exhibitors and visitors that foster a collaborative working environment within the Biennale’s Giardini.
Devised by Creative Directors Anthony Burke and Gerard Reinmuth with TOKO Concept Design, the exhibition itself will showcase six innovative architectural groups through a range of installations that challenge traditional perceptions of what it is to be an architect, including:
2112 Ai (100 YR City) Australian Pavilion ©2112 Ai (100 YR City)
·            A digital installation that showcases futuristic urban visions for the European Capital of Culture, the city of Maribor in Slovenia, and exploring how external pressures on the profession will change the way our cities are designed (Exhibitor team: 2112 AI: 100 YR City),
Archrival - Australian Pavilion - ©Archrival
·            Arena Calcetto, an informal meeting area in the forecourt of the Australian Pavilion, featuring sculptural Foosball tables, which encourages discussion and engagement between pavilions and challenges international rivalry (Exhibitor team: Archrival),
Healthabitat - Australian Pavilion - ©Healthabitat
·            A touring team consulting local Venetians about ways to improve their homes, educating the public about connections between housing design and health issues (Exhibitor team: Healthabitat),

 · A water taxi journey around the Giardini, returning back to the Australian Pavilion via a zip line – extending the exhibition beyond the Australian Pavilion and creating new ways of experiencing the Biennale, whilst exploring the potential to create new public and private spaces in Venice (Exhibitor team: Richard Goodwin Pty Ltd), (see image at the top)

supermanoeuvre Australian Pavilion ©supermanoeuvre
 · A complex robotically fabricated sculptural installation, which explores the potential for ‘robot craftsmen’ and new technologies to change the way we design (Exhibitor team: supermanoeuvre),

The Architects Radio Show Australian Pavilion ©The Architects Radio Show
· A live roaming radio show, hosted by architects and academics, will be broadcast for the duration of the Vernissage, discussing international architectural issues (Exhibitor team: The Architects Radio Show)

Ciao from Venezia,

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Strange Bedfellows -- Aldo Rossi & Emilio Vedova Together in Venice

Theatre and refurbishment of la Pilotta, Parma, 1964-1985
Pen, crayon and coloured pencils on paper, 96.5 x 132 cm. Private collection, courtesy Fondazione Aldo Rossi, Milan
(Venice, Italy) Aldo Rossi (1931-1997) received international recognition in architecture, product design, drawing and theory. Excelling in just one field is enough for most individuals, but Rossi was unique. In 1990, he was the first Italian to win the prestigious Pritzker Prize for architecture, an annual award that honors "a living architect whose built work demonstrates a combination of those qualities of talent, vision and commitment, which has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture".

New Yorkers remember Rossi best for designing the Scholastic Press building down in Soho, the Broadway side reflecting a post-modern design, and the Mercer side reflecting a modern or contemporary design to better blend in with its neighbors. Venetians, however, remember him for his floating theater, Teatro del Mondo, that seated 250 people and actually floated on the Venetian lagoon. On a product-design level, many of us have the classic Alessi teapot sitting on the stove, a piece of art for the kitchen designed by Aldo Rossi.

Emilio Vedova (1919-2006) was one of the most important representatives of Italian avant-garde art to emerge from the destruction of World War II. Born into a working-class Venetian family, he taught himself art with a little help from the phantoms of the ancient masters he was surrounded by here in La Serenissima, such as Tintoretto. A strong anti-fascist, he called his work "earthquakes."

Lacerazione cycle ’77/’78 III, single Plurimo/Binario 1977-1978
203 x 140 x 35 cm. Paint on wooden panels (2 forms sliding on rails), metal structure
In the exhibits Aldo Rossi - Teatri (Theaters)  and Emilio Vedova - Lacerazione. (Lacerations) Plurimi / Binari '77/'78 presented by the Fondazione Emilio e Annabianca Vedova, both artists are joined together in two different venues on the Zattare, a short walk apart. Rossi is at the Magazzino del Sale, curated by Germano Celant in a layout planned by Gae Aulenti, and Vedova is in the Spazio Vedova, curated by Fabrizio Gazzarri. The site in which the Lacerazione cycle is installed is where the work was actually produced -- the former 16th century boatyard where Vedova created his earthquakes, not far from the Punta della Dogana where Rossi's floating Theater of the World was docked.

Rossi has been described as "a poet who happened to be an architect." He was inspired by "Fascist architecture," or "rationalist architecture" morphing into "neo-rationalist architecture" -- or whatever-you-wanna-call-it. To me -- and I know nearly nothing about architecture, but a tiny bit about stage set -- he took the concept of uniting a city so that human beings would be inspired to live a certain way, like a set designer sets the stage for the action. Now, if you are a Fascist, and you want to control your masses by imposing pseudo-Roman stuff, that is one thing, but if you are really looking at the human beings who live in a certain area, and sincerely want to provide them with structures to enhance and inspire their lives, that is another. Rossi looked at the existing architecture, and attempted to blend it into the future, not force it into the future.

The original Teatro del Mondo was quite an architectural feat, and a large-scale model of Rossi's floating Theater of the World has been reconstructed just for this occasion. The theater was erected during the Theatre Biennale of 1979-1980 out in the shipyards of Fusina, loaded on a barge and tugged to Venice where it was docked next to the Punta della Dogana. It then set off by sea to Dubrovnik in Croatia before it was subsequently dismantled and destroyed.

Rossi believed that architecture sets the stage for life. He described Teatro del Mondo project as "a place where architecture ended and the world of the imagination began." Living, as I do, in Venice, it is easy to feel that the city is one enormous stage set, a rich background in which to meet other colorful characters and experience life, a vibrant setting so different than living in a mechanical city that has cars, or the sterile setting of Any Suburb, Anywhere with the same stores, the same food, the same drinks, the same people.To me, the architecture of a city is another real element added to the theatrical production called the Divine Comedy that we are living here on planet Earth.

Madam Butterfly
For the first time, the exhibition Aldo Rossi Teatri brings together 16 projects by the Milanese architect and designer between the early 1960s and 1997 with almost 120 architectural studies and sketches, models, drawings, and stage items, reflecting Rossi's passion for the theater.

"The theater, in which the architecture serves as a possible background, a setting, a building that can be calculated and transformed into the measurements and concrete materials of an often elusive feeling, has been one of my passions."

Vedova, too, designed for the theater, collaborating with the composer, Luigi Nono. From Wikipedia:

Intolleranza 1960 was Luigi Nono's first work for the opera stage and is a flaming protest against intolerance and oppression and the violation of human dignity. The year in the title refers to the time of the work's origin. It was commissioned for the 1969 Venice Biennale by its director Mario Labroca. The first performance was conducted by Bruno Maderna on 13 April 1961 at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice. The stage design was by the famous radical painter Emilio Vedova, a friend of Nono's. The premiere was disrupted by neo-fascists, who shouted "Viva la polizia" during the torture scene. Nono's opponents accused him of poisoning Italian music.

Those are two radically different points of view.

Vedova's obituary in The Guardian sums it up well:

Photo: Cat Bauer
The Italian painter Emilio Vedova, who has died aged 87, was a veteran of one of the 20th century's most bitter artistic conflicts - the "battle of styles" in the 1950s between the neo-realists and the pioneers of expressive abstraction. Like many fierce quarrels, this dispute was conducted between former friends, in this case the leftwing intellectuals who had taken part in the Italian resistance during the second world war. Some of them believed that socialist painters should follow the example of Picasso's Guernica and create overtly political, figurative images, preferably on a grand scale; others, including Vedova, argued that revolutionary art had, by its very nature, to be abstract.

This conviction led him, in the 1950s, to fill his pictures with wild patterns of smeared, poured and dripped paint. He became a radical in both politics and technique, truly a Jackson Pollock of the barricades.

The main aim of the Fondazione Emilio e Annabianca Vedova is to promote the art and work of Vedova and to highlight his importance in the history of 20th century art. The themes of "painting -- space-- time -- history" were of upmost importance to Vedova.

Although both Rossi and Vedova are no longer with us in body, they were both alive at the same point in time at the tip of the Zattare near the Punta della Dogna, and where the spirit of their work Aldo Rossi Teatri and Emilio Vedova Lacerazione. Plurimi/Binari '77/'78 is located today.

Aldo Rossi
Magazzino del Sale, Zattere 266

Emilio Vedova
Plurimi/Binari  ‘77/‘78
Spazio Vedova, Zattere 50

June 30  – November 25, 2012
Closed Tuesdays

Ciao from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog