Dance of ideas for a woman with a blue guitar

Is this BLOG an experiment? I doubt it. It’s not a reasonable, predictable space. Words can be heavy. Stones, they were called. How to love them?

A place of pleasure, that’s my goal. Encounters and exchanges about art and life. A selected group of people will come and play the thinking game. They will send their thoughts by e-mail. We might be read by the global village. Let’s give them pleasure! Let’s learn to be light. Fleeting and temporary, at least for one year. Personal, fearless, bringing out uncertainties, pauses and hesitations, conflicts and doubts. Most of the artworks reveal idiosyncratic states of mind that are not allowed to writers: no smoking in the toilette during the flight! Unless they are poets.

I was an Eighteenth-century philosophy scholar who turned into a journalist and a maker of hand-sewn books. So my hands give the books a body as the secluded princesses of the old tales, making their lovers’ body with flour and water. None of them have a beating heart. Lack of love makes me sick. Lack of confidence, same effect. Plaintive commentaries about climate and institutional collapse are a black mask on my eyes. Reality is painted black. But The Arts keep me alive. Meredith Monk sings without words, only voice and feelings. I wish we could write like she sings.

No yes, no, I like, dislike, no evaluations. Intelligent kindness. No aggression nor rivalry. Reading, writing, “an exchange of desire becomes possible, of an enjoyment that was not foreseen. Games are not done, let’s play.” (Roland Barthes) Wind and earthquakes shake our landscape. Los Angeles is luminous in the middle of April. We can wear the on-line dress, all the possible colors and shapes, because ideas have colors, if someone cares. The kite needs hands holding the thread as well as the winds and the sky; it needs tension, inside and outside.

“I play them on a blue guitar / And then things are not as they are. / The shape of the instrument  / Distorts the shape of what I meant, / Which takes shape by accident. / Yet what I mean I always say. / The accident is how I play./  I still intend things as they are. / The greenish quaverings of day /  Quiver upon the blue guitar. (Wallace Stevens)

CANDY JERNIGAN : SONGS OF PAIN, LAUGHTER and CONTENTMENT

About influences, sharing and unexpected discoveries

by JUDY FISKIN, FIONA CONNOR and ROSANNA ALBERTINI

“Art should make life more interesting than art”
Robert Filliou, quoted by Annette Messager, quoted by Sheryl Conkelton and who knows from how many others

 

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Los Angeles. It was friendship that pushed us around Candy Jernigan at the same moment, and for the first time. Three women drinking her potion from a pink cup slightly twisted, offish. Pencils stand by not less reluctant to be touched. Their scrawny bodies curved by life, and their shadows, spread a sense of pain. Blue things cannot be on the same page: they would bring in liquid sparks of infinity as the sky and the water, the inner sensation that something larger, and intangible, goes around life but nobody can grab it. Candy’s images are small parenthesis in the big picture. The musical modes of her mood reflected by simple, quotidian object friends. Mostly, her name and art sit quietly on their parenthetic couch, waiting. Somebody might lift the plastic sheet.

A vague description floating in her memory, of an art piece from the Whitney collection that was on display at the New Whitney: made with something found, small papers with colored lines… Fiona Connor was chasing the artist’s name. She asked Judy Fiskin and me. Like a waltz by Gabriel Fauré, not too cheerful and not fast enough, the hunting started between the three of us, questioning, asking other people, getting lost. Soon Fiona found the name and sent it to us with a link to the anti-product web site: it was Candy Jernigan. She died in New York at age 39 in 1991, the same year I moved to Los Angeles. Eight images on the screen.

 

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Found online images. No captions, no dates. Yet, striking. I couldn’t stop looking at the artwork. Same reaction from Judy and Fiona. “Would you send me your response to Candy Jernigan’s work, for The Kite? I will add mine,” I asked both.

Judy Fiskin

Here is my response to Candy Jernigan’s leaves from Père Lachaise:

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Fiona Connor

I went up to the Laurel Doody’s last week to stay on her house boat and found this board. I have become obsessed with casting it in bronze. I love this chopping board – it is perfectly shaped by somebody, it has scars, it is hard to pin down.

I think I responded to Candy’s work because it is about mapping the world, being out there exploring as her modus operandi, choosing a single thing to help make sense of it. At this moment a practice that does not try and sum it up or say it how it is directly feels good. There are life lines in her work.

I ordered her book. I will hopefully show it to you on Sunday, Rosanna.

I am wondering about collecting and drawing works – will they always be deemed minor? Can they survive being brought into full view when they become something that an artist does, their thing? Do they require a sort of ‘childs eye’ or naivety on everyones part?

Is this important probably not. Some bile in our romanticism.

I forgot to take your book the other day Rosanna, I have been reaching for it.

Did another Newspaper Reading Club readings at the Getty courtyard this week with Billy Woodbury he read Le Monde it was very powerful.

Judy I love your photo and I am so so so excited for your iPhone film. Fuck.

A response, some news.

There is another artist I want to point you to Yuji Agematsu. He walked round New York for a year and filled the plastic sheaths that come off of cigarette packets with bits of rubbish from the city’s floor.

Love from,

Fiona

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My response, R. A.

She was not just a collector. She picked up and took care, gently, of pieces of garbage and discarded used objects that somebody’s fingers had touched and tossed. She attached her treasures to a thick paper or drew them with precision as if honoring their existence: nicely, in order. Wraps and prints and labels and matches and found dope from the city life, a blade of grass, a leaf in the country. She organized her relics in a space of quiet.

I’m attracted by her need of order. I wonder, was her imagination “pressing back against the pressure of reality?” (Wallace Stevens) No doubt as an artist she revealed her ‘nobility’ which is spiritual depth. “Nothing distorts itself and seeks disguise more quickly. There is a shame of disclosing it and in its definite presentations a horror of it. But there it is.” Nobility makes art possible, helping to feel each day as a gift, every thing as a custodian of vibrations, changes, expressions. Candy Jernigan’s cans of beans dance her homage to Goya.

Graphic order is the first thing I was taught in school: we drew little apples, or triangles, all around the page guided by a grid of squares. We weren’t yet able to read and write. We had to follow the grid, and be precise. To be literal was obligatory. (My school was a rural school in Northern Italy, with one teacher for two classes in the same room and countryside children using ink as a weapon from the tip of the nib.)

In the end we had made ‘una greca,’ a decorative frame recalling Greek borders. But Greek was only a word and we didn’t know what it meant. La greca was our decoration and nothing else. The forms we used though, reproducing flowers fruits or geometric signs, were part of the visual experience in our messy daily life, but these images were not as attractive as real pears or apples. We couldn’t eat them. I guess we discovered the images’ misery when they are not art. And in that time after World War II, we really were hungry.

Influence —I think it’s a sort of nourishment you take from other artists— it’s like the little sparrows, they are needy like that. When you’re young, you take in from a lot of sources; and afterwards, with all you’ve seen, you never know where it all comes from, where you stop and it begins.
—Annette Messager

Bibliography:

Wallace Stevens, The Necessary Angel, Essays on Reality and Imagination, New York, Vintage Book, 1942

Arthur Schnitzler, Relations et Solitudes, Aphorismes  Transl. from German by Pierre Deshusses, Paris, Rivage Poche, 1988

Annette Messager, Catalogue by Sheril Conkelton and Carol S. Eliel, Copyright © 1995 by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

 

THE HIDDEN TREASURE : about ALI HASSOUN

and his Crossover exhibition

at Studio Guastalla,  Milano, February 2017

ALI HASSOUN, Coca Cola omaggio a Schifano, 2016 acquarello su carta, 90 x 70 cm Courtesy of the artist and Studio Guastalla

ALI HASSOUN, Coca Cola omaggio a Schifano, 2016, watercolor on paper, 90 x 70 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Studio Guastalla

My country is considered the cradle of the arts. It was not common sense that such a rich humus had been softened and nourished by vagrants stumbling on a long boot lapped by the waves, coming from Mediterranean countries and others far away. Most of the artifacts, from the coast to the mountains, are hidden jewels chopped and washed out by lack of care. Too modest, nameless and without date. Nobody knows how they reached their almost invisible place. Waves of time. In my northern Italian village, a dark wooden figure no taller than a vertical hand has a permanent residence in a small niche of the church, next to the tabernacle, hidden by a little door. Fake marble, painted by artists who are not in the books, covers the inside surfaces of the church and the columns. I know one of the artists: my grandfather Oreste at age 12. The ancient sculpture still emanates the aura of Queen Theodolinda who – so goes the story – gave it as a present to the village. She died in the year 628 of our era. Local children of my generation dreamed about her.

Strangely, in western culture, no authors’ names imply that motherless art doesn’t count, only good for anthropology. Thanks for classifying. As if images needed words to complete them and give them meaning. The printed, verbal universe grew separate from real things, and authority made it into flying balloon. Luckily for us, Roland Barthes walks on our cultural ruins like Jesus dragging the cross: he brings a big panel showing what we have done by binding history with the ropes of time: a modern divinity, prisoner of words. All the mystery, gone. “History is repressive, History forbids us to be out of time. Of the past we tolerate only the ruin, the monument, kitsch, what is amusing: we reduce this past to no more than its signature.” We have a forest of severed heads on pikes in our idealistic, post medieval history, and fingers writing in punta di penna (the pen’s point) ‘truths’ as sharp as razors. But a new world has already started.

ALI HASSOUN, Icons, 2004, olio su tela, 120 x 120 cm Courtesy of the artist and Studio Guastalla, Milano

ALI HASSOUN, Icons, 2004, oil on canvas, 120 x 120 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Studio Guastalla, Milano

We are still the boot in the water that does not kick away refugees risking their lives by crossing il mare nostro, our sea, everybody’s water. Once more, we (most of us) are people of a hospitable land: not a written rule on historical papers, it’s a sacred corner of our soul sheltered by modern and ancient stories. Se we welcome

ALI HASSOUN from Lebanon, PAINTER

ALI HASSOUN, Michelangelo according to Tano according to Ali. 2016, watercolor on paper, 90 x 70 Courtesy of the artist and Studio Guastalla, Milano

ALI HASSOUN, Michelangelo according to Tano according to Ali. 2016, watercolor on paper, 90 x 70
Courtesy of the artist and Studio Guastalla, Milano

ALI HASSOUN, Esso omaggio a Schifano 2, 2016, oil on canvas, 90 x 110 cm Courtesy of the artist and Studio Guastalla, Milano

ALI HASSOUN, Esso omaggio a Schifano 2, 2016, oil on canvas, 90 x 110 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Studio Guastalla, Milano

I want him in this blog because his art is not Italian, not western at all. He dipped his soul into the best springs of Arabic Muslim literature and philosophy. Al-Jahiz, one of the few practicing the art of prose between the eight and the ninth century in Iran, and one of the pearls of Sufi wisdom, sits on a special chair in Ali Hassoun’s mind, opening a space of independent thinking inside a very ancient and refined tradition. Al-Jahiz was born in Basra in 774, only 146 years after queen Theodolinda’s death. Younger or older? Pascal couldn’t tell.

“Irony was born from symbiosis between doubt and certainty,” wrote al-Jahiz,
which made Hassoun’s paintings a garden of questions, in a smiling style.

ALI HASSOUN, Electric Pollock, 2015, oil on canvas, 90 x 70cm Courtesy of the artist and Studio Guastalla, Milano

ALI HASSOUN, Electric Pollock, 2015, oil on canvas, 90 x 70cm
Courtesy of the artist and Studio Guastalla, Milano

ALI HASSOUN, Davide e Golia, 2015, watercolor on paper, 90 x 70 Courtesy of the artist and Studio Guastalla, Milano

ALI HASSOUN, Davide e Golia, 2015, watercolor on paper, 90 x 70
Courtesy of the artist and Studio Guastalla, Milano

I’m trying to bring back a vision from the lower to the higher space: in a metaphysical rather than religious way. Maybe the Westerners lost such vision, as all of us, drunk as we were with all the achievements of this civilization. Yet civilization needs to be fed, and not only by technology and consumerism (that’s why I refer so often to Andy Warhol). Thinking must become complex again, we need philosophers, thinkers able to go beyond the immediate instant, looking afar. We need a collective thinking wondering about this civilization. (ALI HASSOUN in an interview with Silvia Guastalla)

Each painting is a story, entirely contained in the surface, or can we call it a page?
David and Goliath have the faces of Basquiat holding Andy Warhol’s head; they repeat the fiction already created by Caravaggio putting his own head, severed, in one of his assistants’ hands. In Hassoun’s watercolor the two artists belong to the painted landscape around them, Andy’s eternal flowers fading, after so much reproduction. Exhausted. Their faces, their names, their images extend into each other like Thelonious Monk’s melodic twists. The oddest thing is a sense of equal participation of sounds, and images, in the same distortion.

ALI HASSOUN, Campbell Soup n.1, 2013, oil on canvas, 42 x 42 cm Courtesy of the artist and Studio Guastalla, Milano

ALI HASSOUN, Campbell Soup n.1, 2013, oil on canvas, 42 x 42 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Studio Guastalla, Milano

ALI HASSOUN, Campbell Soup n.2, 2013, oil on canvas, 42 x 42 cm Courtesy of the artist and Studio Guastalla, Milano

ALI HASSOUN, Campbell Soup n.2, 2013, oil on canvas, 42 x 42 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Studio Guastalla, Milano

ALI HASSOUN, Omaggio a Capogrossi, 2015, oil on canvas, 72 x 88 cm Courtesy of the artist and Studio Guastalla, Milano

ALI HASSOUN, Omaggio a Capogrossi, 2015, oil on canvas, 72 x 88 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Studio Guastalla, Milano

ALI HASSOUN, Surface 4, 2013, oil on canvas, 42 x 42 cm Courtesy of the artist and Studio Guastalla, Milano

ALI HASSOUN, Surface 4, 2013, oil on canvas, 42 x 42 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Studio Guastalla, Milano

ALI HASSOUN, Chiuso, 2016, oil on canvas, 30 x 30 cm Courtesy of the artist and Studio Guastalla, Milano

ALI HASSOUN, Chiuso, 2016, oil on canvas, 30 x 30 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Studio Guastalla, Milano

The beauty of these paintings is the visual journey they offer, by Vespa! to liberate the art images’ landscape from re-production. The scenes are made in front of us, as if in real time, mostly by African women mixing colors, stirring food, refilling their Vespa with gas, so much to do! Happy when the baby is asleep. Hassoun stops their fingers on the painting they are making for him with him, who cares? He is them we are him and viewers at the same time, he is a viewer as well, taken by the feminine splendor of bodies and dresses reflecting all the mysteries that art preserves for us. There is no why. The internet icons as good as Pollock, Schifano or Capogrossi. Signs are everywhere, objects showing themselves, through their appearance making us sure we are not seeing the whole story, mystery is still there, at the bottom of us, and we don’t know where. That’s not History. It’s living art giving us more life to share, and a hidden treasure.

I don’t know much about Sufism, but I am a reader. This fragment from The Black Book by Orham Pamuk took my western mind away from pikes and razors. The Hurufism’s art of reading us, in the world.

God’s essential attribute was a “hidden treasure” (a kenz-i mahfi), a mystery. The question was to find a way to get to it. The question was to realize that the mystery was reflected in everything, every object, every person. The world was an ocean of clues, every one of its drops had the salt taste that led to the mystery behind it.”

ALI HASSOUN, Just for one day, 2016, oil on canvas, 30 x 30 cm Courtesy of the artist and Studio Guastalla, Milano

ALI HASSOUN, Just for one day, 2016, oil on canvas, 30 x 30 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Studio Guastalla, Milano

ROMA in the 50s – MAKING FILMS WITHOUT MONEY N.2

more or less…
a brief story of ITALIAN CINEMA IN THE 50’s

N.2

by ALBERTO ALBERTINI – February 2017, Milano (Italy)

Photographs: Alberto Albertini

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Films were made without money, and Rome in the meantime was becoming modern. On the outskirts houses grew like mushrooms. But in the old center and by the river, as if displaying her beauty around squares and parks, Rome was wearing colors like an old lady with gorgeous dresses in decline: washed out bricks and layers of plaster on crumbling walls. The fading colors gave the impression the city was pink, or maybe it was the air, warmed up by the colors. Capers and herbs peeped out from the cracks between stones. The air announced a southern sweetness, as the South wasn’t far.

At the end of a sunny winter, wanting to visit her son Alberto and his family, my grandmother Rosa Maserati Albertini brought me to Rome. It was my first time. Images I’m adding to Alberto’s text are the record of that visit. Grandmother’s attitudes vaguely recall Ingrid Bergman’s. As for me, engulfed in the clumsiness of my ten or eleven years of age, I didn’t know where to place my hands, no less my feet. Besides, my red little coat with golden buttons made me feel like a Napoleonic soldier. I hated that coat, but it was the only one I had and children, in those times, did not have the right to choose what to wear. Luckily, the photographs are black and white.

Alberto was our tour guide and the photographer. His job at Fono Roma had evolved: in a few years he had become an expert in sound recording and dubbing techniques, an inventor as well as an organizer. But I didn’t have any idea of his professional life. It all reemerged in his writings for this blog. The premise of his involvement in the film industry, that made him an inside observer, more or less a historian, are in the following posts:
https://albertini2014.wordpress.com/2016/09/11/roma-and-fono-roma-early-1950s/
https://albertini2014.wordpress.com/2016/09/22/roma-and-fono-roma-2-early-1950s-again/

Rosanna Albertini

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Film making was a well established kind of work in Rome, for shooting and sound recording and mixing. The first film dubbing studio was made in the early thirties. Later, it was Cinecittà. The end of the war brought mainly financial and organizational deficiencies. The big films were shot when possible and were marked by the trauma of war. They confronted tragic subjects with a few tools and not-professional actors not so much by necessity, but rather wanting to sweep the past away and give birth to stories urging to be told, somehow, by a literary realism. The least literary film, the driest and most rigorous, still is Umberto D, 1952, by Vittorio De Sica. That’s why film making, in the fifties, was reorganized on the wave of the ‘neorealist’ success. Production companies appeared, sets were reorganized, with everything was needed for the most incredible productions.

The music – happy time! – was still made with the an orchestra. Musicians had to be suited to the kind of film. Roberto Rossellini, for obvious reasons, put his brother in charge of the job, basically to develop only one theme, as Roman Vlad used to do: Gothic was his speciality. Occasionally some real composers appeared, those having a ‘serious’ career who were not interested in money, maybe because money wasn’t sure … Mario Zafred, Valentino Bucci and Marcello Abbado with twelve-tone music! Although musicians liked to conduct their own pieces, they were not excellent conductors. Nino Rota used the best conductor available: Franco Ferrara.

Always in a black pullover, tall and slim, Ferrara was the image of sobriety: essential, courteous, with no useless words. His speech was fast, the voice never loud: the orchestra could move as if suspended from his baton. The same orchestra of Cinefonico, under other conductors, was swaying as if rocked by the wind. Music for film was then composed according to different scenes and recorded while projecting the film section in a continuous loop; the conductor had to find the way to adapt the musical emphasis to the events in the scene by accelerating or slowing down the tempo.

 

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Because the music was original, and all the parts of the score were hand copied, there were often mistakes due to the copyists. The same section with the same instruments, therefore, could sound wrong and bring up conjectures about why a certain musician was playing a different note.

Ferrara, after a first reading of the musical piece for a loop, used to explain and ask to repeat the beats, mumbling how to do it: here we are, more accent it’s OK, now everybody restarting from C. In particular, I remember when he asked the trombones to anticipate just a fraction of a second, because he could hear the sounds late in their coming from the back of the recording studio: no more than six, eight meters! Or he asked different musicians to repeat a difficult beat to find the best execution. He was the conductor always taking care of Nino Rota’s compositions.

The episode that stayed with me more than others is Ferrara recording the ouverture of Il Barbiere di Siviglia for the titles of the homonymous film. Films based on operas were popular: the singers and orchestra had four hour shifts. Ferrara’s rehearsal lasted the entire shift, beat by beat, repeating until he reached the point he really wished. At the end of the shift he recorded only once, it was the good one. How good? Exceptional, an exciting surprise. I would love to track down that movie to rethink about it after so many years.

 

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Films revealed the variety of style and research also in their soundtracks: traditional, popular with climatic influences such as a moderate sun warming Rome, or music sailing over twelve-tone spheres. Music was often inseparable from the film. Nino Rota’s theme hovering on I Vitelloni, 1953, Federico Fellini’s third film, keeps a sorrowful and shady eye on the ‘boys’ thoughtless lives. Leopoldo Trieste and Achille Maieroni are alone on the pier, it’s night … what a scene … and the street, the solitary trumpet telling the other meaning of that film: solitude?

The foley artist. When you shoot the film with live sounds of the scene, you would say the only thing missing is music. Not so simple. The sound track, in the 50s, had to be completely rebuilt. The guiding track was just a guide: it contained the actors’ voices that needed to be dubbed, the director’s voice, the unrequested ambient noise. Strangely, the foley artist was the main tool to improve the sound track. What were the requirements? A memory organized as if the film roll were recorded in is brain, instantaneous responses and a lot of fantasy. (Film’s rolls are 305 meters long -1000 feet- equivalent to eleven minutes.) When the foley artist opened his suitcase one had the impression that an old gleaner had arrived looking for scraps: sets of keys, coconut shells, boxes and empty small containers, whistles, glasses, small and big clogs, tiles, dishes, little cups and a lot of other things. The studio kindly used to offer a door having only the frame and a handle for that specific noise. With all these objects the artist was able to recreate all the sounds necessary to follow the events. Other sounds: wind, rain, street traffic, were added by standard loops (loops were sound tracks on short films that we could close like rings and let go with uninterrupted movement; it was our job as sound technicians to open the sound faucet at the right moment.) At the beginning we had two foley artists, each with a different mindset: the older depended on a multiplicity of objects, not to be out of resources for an unexpected noise; the other instead, had the ambition of creating any kind of noise with very few essential objects, and was able to do it. His memory and responses as fast as lightening. Using the objects like musical instruments he could obtain different sounds from the same object.

 

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When a film is sold abroad, it has to be supplied with an international track. It’s the film soundtrack with music and effects, but without dialog, so that the buyer has only to add the dubbed voices and complete the film in the local language. The international sound track had to be produced also for the Italian edition of Italian films, -it was a requirement of the production process. Such was the case for India, 1958, by Roberto Rossellini. The older of the foley artists was chosen for the international track’s sounds, the more traditional. Albeit the sound generation was artificial, collateral actions could help : finding the best way to place the microphone, following the sound levels or altering their ‘color.’ The foley artist was very much satisfied with my work, finding himself surprised: the effects seemed true!

An aside about the aesthetic of film sounds: Our brain works on his own, when watching the film. Think of the power of music transforming the meaning and emotional impact of a scene. The same happens with noise. The brain recognizes any (or almost) noise coinciding with the action. The task of the foley artist is therefore simplified, because his sound imitation is never perfect. The foley artist, for instance, created the illusion of a transatlantic liner uttering uuuuuuuuuuuuu and blowing on a cut in a postcard in a vertical position. It was convincing to me until I saw the first cinemascope film with magnetic stereo sound: the port of New York with many ships in transit: I was upset! Space, depth, truth, all immense!

Dubbing is accepted without discussion. I believe nobody today questions it, but the problem exists and there is nothing to be done: either one reads the subtitles or follows the film. Better to follow the film; when it’s dubbed, though, we see it and listen to it as if the voices were the real voices of the actors. Paradoxically, voice and acting of dubbers could even turn out better that the original, and it wouldn’t be right. I’ll mention as an example one of the first films by Bergman: I saw the original projection in Swedish and, not understanding the language, I noticed the very sharp, violent quality of the voices. Everything was dramatic. When I saw again the same film, dubbed in Italian, it was deflated, the story seemed useless.

 

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più o meno …
piccola storia del CINEMA ITALIANO ANNI ’50

n.2
di Alberto Albertini, Febbraio 2017, Milano

Mentre i film erano fatti senza soldi, in periferia Roma diventava moderna. Le case crescevano come funghi. Ma nel centro, e lungo il Tevere, come se la città mettesse in mostra la sua bellezza intorno alle piazze e nei parchi, Roma era sfumata dai colori dei mattoni e degli intonaci sui muri vecchi, e dal fascino senza tempo delle rovine antiche. Capperi e erbe spuntavano dalle crepe. Era pervasa da un senso di calore, mentre l’aria annunciava la dolcezza del sud, non lontano. In uno scorcio di inverno soleggiato, la nonna (Rosa Maserati Albertini) mi portò a Roma per una visita alla famiglia di Alberto, che era suo figlio. La mia prima volta. Le immagini che seguono documentano quella visita. La nonna aveva atteggiamenti da Ingrid Bergman, e io, con la goffaggine dell’età della crescita, non sapevo dove mettere le mani, tantomeno i piedi. Per giunta, portavo una cappottino rosso coi bottoni dorati che mi faceva sentire come un soldato napoleonico. Lo odiavo, ma era l’unico che avevo. A quel tempo i bambini non avevano diritto di scelta. Per fortuna le foto sono in bianco e nero.
Alberto era la nostra guida turistica nonché fotografo. Il suo lavoro alla Fono Roma ebbe svariati sviluppi: in pochi anni, da semplice tecnico del suono era diventato inventore e organizzatore. Non avevo nessuna idea della sua vita professionale. Per me, è emersa dai suoi scritti per questo blog.

Il mestiere del cinema era ben radicato a Roma, sia nelle riprese che nelle sonorizzazioni. Nei primi anni trenta era sorto il primo studio di doppiaggio film e, successivamente, Cinecittà. Alla fine della guerra le carenze erano prevalentemente finanziarie e organizzative. I grandi film girati con i mezzi possibili, segnati dal trauma bellico, avevano affrontato temi tragici con pochi mezzi e attori non professionisti non tanto per necessità, ma per il desiderio di spazzare via il passato e dar vita a qualcosa che era impellente dire, anche se si trattava di realismo un tantino letterario. Il film meno letterario, il più asciutto, rigoroso, rimane Umberto D, 1952, di Vittorio De Sica. Dunque, gli anni cinquanta si trovano a riorganizzare le fila sull’onda del successo ‘neorealista’. Nascono case di produzione, si riorganizzano i teatri di posa, tutto l’occorrente per le produzioni più incredibili.

Bei tempi, il commento musicale si faceva ancora con l’orchestra. I musicisti adeguati al genere del film. Roberto Rossellini, per ovvi motivi, assegnava l’incarico al fratello Renzo, praticamente sviluppi di un solo tema, come Roman Vlad, specializzato nel gotico. Apparivano anche fugacemente compositori veri, cioè dediti alla carriera seria, non interessati al denaro o forse perché questo non era sicuro…Mario Zafred, Valentino Bucchi e Marcello Abbado con composizioni dodecafoniche! Spesso i musicisti avevano l’ambizione di dirigere personalmente le loro opere ma non erano ottimi direttori. Nino Rota si avvaleva del massimo disponibile: Franco Ferrara.
Sempre in maglione nero, alto snello, Ferrara era sobrio nel senso che era essenziale, cortese, senza una parola di più. Parlava rapido non alzava mai la voce: l’orchestra viaggiava come se fosse appesa alla sua bacchetta. Con altri direttori, la stessa orchestra del Cinefonico ondeggiava come cullata dal vento. Erano tempi in cui la musica per film era composta sulle diverse scene e registrata proiettando ad anello continuo il relativo brano del film; il direttore si industriava di far coincidere le sottolineature musicali agli eventi delle scene accelerando o rallentando i tempi.

Essendo le musiche originali, e tutte le parti copiate a mano dai copisti, spesso la partitura conteneva errori di copiatura. Succedeva così che stessa parte, per gli stessi strumenti, poteva differire e causare congetture sul perché un musicista suonava una nota diversa.
Ferrara, dopo una prima lettura del pezzo relativo ad un anello, spiegava e faceva ripetere le battute canticchiando come farlo: ecco più accentato ecco così va bene, ora tutti dalla lettera C. In particolare ricordo quando chiese ai tromboni di anticipare di una frazione di secondo perché sentiva il ritardo del suono che proveniva dal fondo dello studio di registrazione: non più di sei otto metri! Oppure faceva provare e riprovare una battuta difficile a diversi esecutori per far eseguire quel rilievo dal più idoneo. Era naturalmente il direttore fisso delle composizioni di Nino Rota.

 

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L‘episodio che più mi è rimasto impresso è stato quando ha registrato l’ouverture de Il Barbiere di Siviglia per i titoli del film omonimo. Allora erano ancora in voga film basati sulle opere e i cantanti lirici, i turni di registrazione orchestra erano di quattro ore. Ferrara provò per tutto il tempo del turno, battuta per battuta, ripetendo finché non fosse emerso il senso da lui desiderato. Alla fine del turno registrò una sola volta perché era quella buona. Buona quanto? Eccezionale, una sorpresa emozionante. Come mi piacerebbe rintracciare quel film per giudicarlo a distanza di tanti anni.

Anche nella musica il cinema si distingueva per la varietà degli stili e di ricerca; tradizionale, popolare con influenze climatiche tipo il tiepido sole di Roma, fino a musiche naviganti nelle sfere della dodecafonia. Musiche spesso inscindibili dal film. Ne I vitelloni, 1953, il terzo film di Federico Fellini, il tema di Nino Rota incombe, vigila dolente e ombroso sulla vita sconsiderata dei ‘ragazzi’. La scena con Leopoldo Trieste e Achille Maieroni sul molo, soli, di notte…e la strada, con quella tromba solitaria che racconta il secondo significato del film, la solitudine?

Il rumorista. Girando il film in presa diretta, con l’audio della scena ripresa, sembrerebbe di dover aggiungere solo la musica. In realtà non è così semplice. Negli anni cinquanta la colonna sonora doveva essere ricostruita completamente. La colonna guida era appunto una guida: conteneva le voci degli attori da doppiare, la voce del regista, i rumori ambiente indesiderati, dunque bisognava ricostruirla e qui si concretizza il ruolo del rumorista. Quali erano i suoi requisiti? Una memoria come se il rullo fosse registrato nel cervello, riflessi istantanei e molta fantasia. (I rulli del film sono lunghi trecentocinque metri -1000 piedi- pari a undici minuti.) Quando il rumorista apriva la valigia sembrava che fosse arrivato un robivecchi in cerca di rottami: mazzi di chiavi, gusci di noci di cocco, scatole e scatolette vuote, fischietti, vetri, zoccoli e zoccoloni, piastrelle, stoviglie, tazzine e molto altro. Una porta, con il solo telaio e una maniglia, era gentilmente offerta dallo studio per il relativo rumore. Con questi oggetti ricreava tutti i rumori necessari a seguire gli avvenimenti della scena. Altri rumori, tipo vento pioggia traffico stradale erano aggiunti con anelli di repertorio ( gli anelli erano, sono, colonne sonore su film di breve lunghezza in modo che si può chiuderli ad anello e farli girare continuamente; noi fonici aprivamo il rubinetto del suono al momento opportuno). In principio i rumoristi erano due ma con scuole di pensiero diverse: il più anziano puntava sulla molteplicità degli oggetti per non trovarsi mai sprovvisto di fronte al rumore imprevisto, il secondo aveva l’ambizione di creare qualsiasi rumore con pochissimi oggetti essenziali e ci riusciva. Aveva memoria e riflessi fulminei. Usando gli oggetti come fossero strumenti musicali, estraeva suoni diversi da uno stesso oggetto.

Quando si vende un film all’estero, occorre accompagnarlo con la sua colonna internazionale. È la colonna sonora del film completa di musica e rumori ma senza i dialoghi in modo che l’acquirente possa aggiungere solo le voci doppiate e quindi avere il film completo ma nella lingua locale. Per i film italiani, il modo di produrre comportava che la colonna sonora internazionale dovesse essere prodotta anche per l’edizione italiana. Questo era anche il caso del film India, 1958, di Roberto Rossellini. Per la registrazione della colonna internazionale fu scelto il più anziano dei rumoristi, il più tradizionale. Anche se la generazione dei rumori è artificiale, esistono azioni collaterali coadiuvanti: trovare il miglior piazzamento del microfono e seguire i livelli del suono o modificare il ‘colore’. Il rumorista fu molto soddisfatto del mio lavoro e si sorprese perché gli effetti sembravano veri.

Occorre però fare una digressione sull’estetica del suono nel film. Il cervello lavora molto di suo, quando vede il film. Ne è prova il commento musicale in grado di cambiare significato ed emotività ad una stessa scena. Altrettanto accade con il rumore. Il cervello identifica per vero qualsiasi ( quasi ) rumore che coincide con l’azione. Questo facilita il compito del rumorista perché l’imitazione che fa del rumore non è mai perfetta. Il rumorista creava l’illusione del transatlantico facendo uuuuuuuuuu e soffiando su una cartolina tenuta di taglio. Era convincente finché non ho visto il primo film cinemascope con stereo suono magnetico: il porto di New York con numerose navi che transitavano: sconvolgente! Lo spazio, la profondità, la verità, immenso!

Il doppiaggio è fuori discussione. Credo che nessuno oggi si ponga il problema che invece c’è ma non ci si può fare nulla: o si leggono i sottotitoli o si segue il film. Meglio seguire il film, però quando è doppiato lo vediamo e sentiamo come se la voce fosse quella degli attori. Paradossalmente, la voce e la recitazione dei doppiatori potrebbe addirittura superare quella dell’originale, che comunque non sarebbe giusto. Posso, ad esempio, citare il caso di uno dei primi film di Bergman: ho assistito alla proiezione originale in svedese e benché non potessi capire la lingua, notai che le voci erano asperrime, violente. Tutto era drammatico. Quando l’ho rivisto doppiato, si era sgonfiato, la storia sembrava inutile.

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MOTHER AND DAUGHTER

Yves Trémorin’s HOMMAGE à L’OMBRE – IN PRAISE of SHADOW

by Rosanna Albertini

Ce n’est pas l’indifférence qui enlève le poids de l’image … c’est l’amour, l’amour extreme.
It is not indifference that lifts the image’s weight … it is love, extreme love.
(Roland Barthes)

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Photographs by YVES TREMORIN
from two series: Mother and Daughter and Mystic Garden

I will never know if the name of things is stronger than their physical presence, if it adds meaning to the surrogate images of what’s naturally ‘visible.’ I’m not even sure that the best photographs and films are meant to reassure our mind about the truth of what we see, for instance.

Yves Trémorin, magic fisher and maker of images in Saint Malo, Bretagne, often gives me the impression he’s taking details from bodies he loves as if he had his eyes closed, and in such way he could let the details escalate his mental touch, his effort to capture the unique, ungraspable presence of women he knows, from which he was born. It’s a fact.

He photographed his grandmother in 1984, when she was ninety-one. And his mother now, in 2017, ninety-one years old. Right now, their images share the same age, look at them now and here they are: mother, daughter. A son looks at them, reveals the power of their nameless presence: women, first of all.

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They are living molecules of vision. There existence, like the stem of a flower, a leaf wrinkled by her journey through life. If natural existence is the subject, their body, a female body, finds a powerful stance in the space of art. If it is nor clear who’s who, as they are both mother and daughter, we focus, instead, on their appearance surrounded by shadows, by all the stories and times that we do not know that feed their images and were their lives. We start dreaming about those images: the woman lost in her flowered dress comes from mythological times, she is Eve in her old age, still offering something mysterious, not an apple, it can be a piece of bread or a snake. She smiles. Would you take it?

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Existence in art is artificial, construction and translation. Also in photography: “an art which is not certain, and is as uncertain as science would be, were it working on desirable or despicable bodies … impossible science of unique beings.” (Roland Barthes)

The artist is an eye, a ear, a nose, so is the viewer. Suppose things abandoned by names, and you will have a landscape of anonymous presences. The only reality they have is the perceived present: for them there is no such thing as the future. Don’t forget the person behind the camera. He explores the shadows: his profile projected on the wall repeats his mother profile. The two shadows face each other in silence; we close the eyes, it stays in us.

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The best images I keep of my mother are not photographs. Her beautiful hands, the shape of her feet geometrically perfect because the middle toe was longer than the big toe, as in the Greek statues, are printed in my mind and bring back my extreme love for her along with a blow of darkness. Her past life shakes me, unrequested.

By the way mother, were you a virgin when you got married and immediately conceived me? As long  as you were alive, I never felt we lived on the same planet, although our bodies were unmistakably shaped in the same mold and your round shoulders made me always think of Helen of Troy. I don’t want you to be blamed forever as she has been, am I the only one in the dark? Perhaps something was muddy in your husband, father of mine. He did not go to your funeral, never puts flowers on your grave. Love must have been a needle with a thread in the eye: day by day sewing through the hole of the mood, to fix a fabric incessantly yielding. Please don’t pinch me, stories begin with a phantom.

A couple of new leaves on the cumquats shake their greenness to the morning, like wings getting ready to take off. A phantom flower blooms in my mind, it’s for you.

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Roland Barthes, La chambre claire, Note sur la photographie, Gallimard, le Seuil, 1980

ROMA IN THE 50’s : MAKING FILMS WITHOUT MONEY

more or less …
a brief story of ITALIAN CINEMA IN THE 5O’s  

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by ALBERTO ALBERTINI – January 2017 -Milano (Italy)

Photographs by Alberto Albertini

Just a reminder: Alberto is my uncle, my father’s brother. Ninety years on his shoulders did not decrease his enthusiasm and his imaginative life. All his pieces in this blog (13 so far) have been requested by me and written for the blog, as far as the scroll unfolded. This on line work that we share  is inquiry about the arts of our time as well as archeology of our family life, our common tree where we hung words and images as they surge in our mind, and feelings, regardless how hard they sometimes are.  RA

While films were made without money, at the edge of the city Rome was developing a modern style. Houses grew like mushrooms. Poles were hammered into the ground for the foundations, buildings got higher and, in a short time, filled the streets. There was a valley whose wild side, near the Vatican railroad, was the border between the urban reality and the countryside. Today one wouldn’t recognize the place. Alberto and his family lived in one of those new buildings.

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Enrica, Alberto’s wife and his love for seventy five years, with their children Mietta and Claudio

One wouldn’t find in other nations, I think, the same cinema that was boiling in Italy during the 50s. True, it was coming after Neorealism, that took everybody by surprise a few years before, yet it was really something else, made out of of research and adventures coming not as much from the the Neorealism experience, as from financial constraints: how to make cinema without money.

Cesare Zavattini was the major reference point, with directors and screenwriters around him, often recurring in later films on and supported by Cinema Nuovo, Guido Aristarco’s magazine of cinematographic criticism (I still have some copies) in which Cesare Zavattini used to write his journal. His notes were minimal observations of the ways people behaved or were pleased to utter words in vogue. He cared about peculiar, necessary details to set the customs of an age.

Actors, wanting to check if it was worth being sign up for a film, or if it was risky, used to visit the set and see if Vittorio De Sica or Totò were in the cast. If so, that meant there was some money and it was good to accept the engagement. The minimum wage. One of the ways to provide money for movies was the minimum wage. The bank, the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, would grant the money in relation to the project, but most of all to the cast. Director and actors were on a list of names at the Bank specifying: with this cast, the minimum wage is… the presence of a certain actor, or actresses in the movie meant the minimum wage would rise.

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Serious films, comedies, the new comedy, impossible films, failed films, opera in a film. Nothing was neglected, neither serials nor social inquiries. I believe it was Zavattini who promoted a series of inquiry films, with no equivalent afterwards. I remember: Italians swivel their heads to look at girls.

The first genetic mutation of neorealism was Due soldi di speranza [Two Cents Worth of Hope, 1952] in which realism was contaminated with the comedy chromosome and the brilliant dialogues of Titina De Filippo. Followed various Pane amore e … eccetera. Every time a film was successful, imitations in the same genre were proliferating.

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Some films did not find financial support and remained incomplete: “Ciofanna, Ciofanna,” declaimed Ingrid Bergman in Santa Giovanna al rogo by Claudel, directed by Rossellini, and the actor who was supposed to perform with her refused to do it: if they don’t pay me, I don’t perform! Who ever saw that movie? Maybe that was the reason why Ingrid Bergman went back to the U.S.

A Filomena Marturano shot by Eduardo De Filippo, with Titina in it, was never released. Some films with unknown financial support, maybe not very interesting, never went around. I remember Vacanze al mare [Vacation by the Sea] with beautiful music by Nino Rota but never released. Un medico di campagna [A countryside doctor], in which a striking Giovanna Ralli appeared for the first time, maybe with Fabrizi, was dispersed into space, or came out with a different title.

Rossellini in India is a book dedicated to this period. The story of his affair with Sonali das Gupta is believable, yet another malicious story says that, while the crew was shooting the film, he seduced a guru’s wife. And the two stories aren’t incompatible. A seducer, Rossellini? No doubt, but it would be better to call him an enchanter. His favorite editor, Iolanda Benvenuti, told me that often times she and the other women collaborating with him had to wait hours and hours in order to work, making up in their minds violent reactions against him as soon as he would appear: and he happened to arrive at ten in the evening, very quickly enchanting them all. They were incapable of reacting.

Professional film making was a concept in evolution also because, in order to be professional, one had to adapt to the new technical possibilities. Neorealist films had proved it was possible to work with actors picked up from the street, not actors at all, thanks to the director’s talent and thanks to the possibility to dub, replacing the non-actors voice with the voice of real actors. The sound, recorded along with images, had the only function of guiding the post-synchronization, in a word, the dubbing.

One could hear the director’s voice telling the actors how to move: here you go, forward, go on, continue as you are doing, turn, stare at the house… and so on. Many males and females, in such a way, stepped into the film world without acting or diction school, and it often happened that good looks helped more than expressive abilities. Some of them studied, and improved, some others left, women especially, a few ended with a good marriage. Some industrialists created production companies to organize the promotion of their protégées. Rizzoli created an important house of production, and signed up Miriam Bru.

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Claudio (left), Mietta (right)

Actors swing in their jobs, so between pauses and waiting moments either for the scene requirements or the set preparation, they get lost in chatting, gossiping about colleagues. Rumors about Vittorio De Sica telling he had two families, and used to spend the evening with the legal one, but instead of sleeping there he was spending the night with the other. The two ‘wives,’ I think, were Giuditta Rissone and Maria Mercader. He was constantly searching for money that he regularly lost gambling, and this was the reason why he accepted daily jobs the producer was using to increase the minimum wage and not spend too much. Yet, in the meantime De Sica shot films such as Umberto D.

Abandoned by Rossellini when he shot Stromboli with Ingrid Bergman, Anna Magnani was the protagonist of La carrozza d’oro by Jean Renoir. In the middle of a financial storm, and waiting for the director, Anna Magnani let herself go through long conversations about her life. At forty eight she had the opportunity, in Bellissima, with Visconti, to perform the non-acting, along with Walter Chiari on the bank of a stream, as if they were two people meeting there to discuss something. The dialogue unfolds a without script, only following the director’s generic suggestions. The top of realism or the strongest truth? It wouldn’t be art, would it? The scene couldn’t be better, a flower for anthology.

After the black and white intense realism, Luchino Visconti shoots Senso in color (1954); the battles scenes, as the touch of the artist had made them totally believable, are still impressed in my mind. Was he inspired by Giovanni Fattori’s paintings? Meanwhile people spread stories about how expensive it was to work with Visconti: for the curtains in Senso, he wanted to have them dyed the color of tea using real tea!!

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Claudio with sheep

Dino Risi shot Poveri ma Belli [Poor but Beautiful] 1957, launching a new pseudo-realist trend with actors who later became professional. Luciano Emmer, after Le ragazze di piazza di Spagna 1952 shot a documentary about Picasso artworks in Provence, followed by Camilla, 1954, the story of a maid. Vittorio De Seta was making his unusual documentaries, about fishing for swordfish, and Gillo Pontecorvo at his very beginnings made a report on Porta Portese in Rome. (To be continued)

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Alberto with his children in the Fifties

più o meno …
piccola storia del CINEMA ITALIANO ANNI ’50

di ALBERTO ALBERTINI – Gennaio 2017 – Milano

Mentre i film erano fatti senza soldi, in periferia Roma diventava moderna. Le case crescevano come funghi. I lavoratori battevano a lungo pali nel terreno per fissare le fondamenta, poi iniziavano a far salire gli edifici e in poco tempo avevano riempito la contrada. Il confine tra città e campagna è uno dei fianchi della vallata. Oggi la zona è irriconoscibile. Alberto e la famiglia vivevano in una delle nuove case con appartamenti.

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Non credo che si possa trovare, in altre nazioni, un cinema paragonabile a quello che bolliva negli anni cinquanta in Italia. Se è vero che esso era successivo alla grande sorpresa destata dal neorealismo, pochi anni prima, è da rilevare come in realtà da esso si sia discosto e proliferato in miriadi di ricerche e di avventure, in parte conseguenza dell’esperienza, non tanto estetica del neorealismo, ma finanziaria: cioè come fare del cinema senza soldi.

Il filo conduttore nella direzione ricerca fa riferimento a Cesare Zavattini col supporto di registi sceneggiatori, ricorrenti spesso nei film a seguire e a loro volta supportati dalla rivista di critica cinematografica Cinema Nuovo, di Guido Aristarco ( ne ho ancora alcuni numeri ) sulla quale Cesare Zavattini teneva un diario. Annotava osservazioni minimaliste sui comportamenti o sul compiacimento che alcuni provano nel pronunciare parole in voga, a riprova della sua attenzione ai dettagli, ai particolari determinanti per inquadrare il costume di un’epoca.

Per verificare se una scrittura valesse la pena, non fosse un rischio, gli attori si recavano sul set per vedere se erano presenti, e lavoravano, Vittorio de Dica o Totò. Se c’erano, significava che c’erano anche i soldi e si poteva accettare la scrittura. Il minimo garantito. Una delle modalità per finanziare i film era quella del minimo garantito. La banca finanziatrice, cioè la Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, concedeva il finanziamento in funzione del progetto ma soprattutto del cast. Il regista gli attori, avevano il loro listino presso la banca che diceva: con questo cast, il minimo garantito è … la presenza di certi attori, o attrici, nei film, non aveva altro scopo che di elevare il minimo garantito.

Film impegnati, film commedia, la nuova commedia, film impossibili, film falliti, opera lirica filmata. Nulla di trascurato, inclusi film a episodi o di indagine. Credo proprio che sia stato Zavattini a promuovere una serie, forse senza seguito, di film indagine. Ricordo: Gli italiani si voltano a guardare le ragazze.
La prima mutazione genetica del neorealismo fu Due soldi di speranza, 1952, film realista ma con il cromosomo della commedia e i dialoghi brillanti di Titina de Filippo. Seguirono i vari Pane amore e…  ecc. da ogni film di successo proliferavano le imitazioni di genere.

Film che i soldi non li hanno trovati e sono rimasti incompleti: “Ciofanna, Ciofanna,” declamava Ingrid Bergman, nella Santa Giovanna al rogo di Claudel, regia di Rossellini, e l’attore che doveva recitare insieme a lei si rifiutava: se non mi pagano, io non recito! Chi ha mai visto quel film? Forse è per questo che Ingrid tornò in USA. 

Una Filumena Marturano girata da Eduardo e con Titina, mai uscito. Film che non si sa come siano stati finanziati perché di scarso valore e mai visti in circolazione. Ricordo un Vacanze al mare con un bel commento musicale di Nino Rota ma mai uscito. Un medico di campagna, la prima apparizione inquietante di Giovanna Ralli, forse con Fabrizi, disperso nello spazio o uscito con altro titolo.
Rossellini in India, è un libro dedicato a questo periodo. Spiega credibilmente la sua storia con Sonali das Gupta, ma i maligni raccontano che mentre la troupe girava Roberto seduceva la moglie di un guru e le due storie non sono incompatibili. Rossellini seduttore? Sicuramente, meglio incantatore. Mi raccontava Iolanda Benvenuti, la montatrice, di sua fiducia, che spesso lei e le collaboratrici l’attendevano ore e ore per lavorare e loro si facevano progetti di violente reazioni non appena fosse arrivato, magari arrivava alle dieci di sera e in breve tempo le incantava tutte senza che fossero capaci di reagire.

La professionalità era un concetto in evoluzione anche perché i professionisti erano influenzati dalle nuove possibilità tecniche. Il cinema neorealista aveva dimostrato che era possibile lavorare anche con attori presi dalla strada, cioè non attori, grazie al talento del regista e alla possibilità di doppiare, di sostituire la voce dei non attori con quella di attori. L’audio, ripreso insieme all’immagine, serviva solamente come guida per la post sincronizzazione, il doppiaggio. E si udiva la voce del regista dare suggerimenti agli ‘attori’: ecco, vai avanti, avanti, avanti così, girati, fissa la casa… ecc. Così, molti e molte entrarono nel cinema senza scuola di recitazione e di dizione e, spesso, più che le capacità espressive giovava il bell’aspetto fisico. Qualcuno studiò, si perfezionò, qualcuna uscì di scena e qualcuna concluse con un buon matrimonio. Alcuni industriali misero in piedi case di produzione per promuovere le loro protette. Rizzoli creò una importante casa di produzione, e scritturò Miriam Bru.

Il lavoro degli attori è altalenante perché composto da pause, attese, sia per le esigenze di scena che per la preparazione dei set e dunque non rimane loro che di chiacchierare, pettegolare sui loro colleghi. Di De sica dicevano che aveva due famiglie e lui passava la sera con quella legale ma poi invece di andare a letto con questa si recava dall’altra. Le due ‘mogli’, mi pare, erano Giuditta Rissone e Maria Mercader. Aveva continuamente bisogno di denaro che regolarmente perdeva al gioco e per questo accettava lavori a giornata; servivano al produttore per elevare il minimo garantito e spendere poco, ma intanto girava anche film come Umberto D.

Anna Magnani, lasciata da Rossellini mentre lui girava Stromboli con la Bergman, era protagonista ne La carrozza d’oro di Jean Renoir, del 1952. Nel mezzo di vicissitudini finanziarie burrascose, nell’attesa del regista la Magnani si concedeva lunghe conversazioni sulla sua vita. A quarantotto anni ebbe l’occasione in Bellissima, 1951, con Visconti, di recitare la non-recitazione insieme a Walter Chiari, sull’orlo del fiumiciattolo, come fossero due persone che si trovano lì per discutere. Il dialogo si svolge senza copione seguendo solo le generiche indicazioni del regista. Il massimo del realismo o il massimo della verità? Non sarebbe arte perché, vero? Eppure la scena è insuperabile, da antologia.

Dopo l’intenso realismo del bianco e nero, Visconti gira Senso a colori, 1954, mi rimangono impresse le scene delle battaglie con il tocco dell’artista che sa ricostruire l’evento con totale credibilità. Si sarà ispirato ai dipinti di Giovanni Fattori? Intanto raccontavano che era costosissimo lavorare con lui: per i tendaggi di Senso volle che fossero tinti color the col the!!

Dino Risi girava Poveri ma belli nel 1957 lanciando un nuovo filone pseudo realista con attori che poi professionisti lo sono diventati. Luciano Emmer, dopo Le ragazze di piazza di Spagna del 1952 aveva girato un documentario sulle opere di Picasso in Provenza e successivamente Camilla, 1954, la storia di una domestica. Vittorio de Seta girava i suoi insoliti documentari, sulla pesca del pesce spada, e Gillo Pontecorvo, anche lui agli inizi, faceva un rapporto su Porta Portese. (Continua)

SHARON ELLIS : THE SPARKLING PITCH OF HER BRUSH

REFRACTIONS IN HER BRAIN — FLYING EMOTIONS

by Rosanna Albertini

SHARON ELLIS, Desert Bouquet, 2015 alkyd on paper, 16" x 12" Courtesy of the artist and Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica

SHARON ELLIS, Desert Bouquet, 2015
alkyd on paper, 16″ x 12″ Courtesy of the artist and Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica

You like it in the desert when tiny flowers bloom in the dryness as if petals of color had come from the sky, and you forget the sun, to listen to the air, the wind whispering about a river that disappeared, people and cattle who moved. And there you are, alone like the land around you, as blue as a bird. Your mind one with the space. Your nature shrinks to the bones. Red and blue burst into the hidden heart of what you still call a human. No gravity. No weight. Colors become the music contained in only one musical tempo; if you want, you can call it a painting.

 

SHARON ELLIS, Messenger, 2016 alkyd on paper, 12 1/8" x 16 1/8" Courtesy of the artist and Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica

SHARON ELLIS, Messenger, 2016
alkyd on paper, 12 1/8″ x 16 1/8″ Courtesy of the artist and Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica

SHARON ELLIS, Firefly Fugue, 2016 alkyd on paper, 12 1/8" x 16 1/8" Courtesy of the artist and Christopher Grimes Gallery

SHARON ELLIS, Firefly Fugue, 2016
alkyd on paper, 12 1/8″ x 16 1/8″ Courtesy of the artist and Christopher Grimes Gallery

A few threads attach Sharon’s mind to the world. Colors. The changing presence of light.
The thin silk of her hair. What she sees is a dissolving organism filling her pupil drop by drop: her own feeling of something, she doesn’t know what it is, if it is, where? A miniature expands with no feet. A liquid existence that doesn’t disappear. Maybe she gets lost like Alice in a field of weeds and shrinks and regrows until the fireflies put together a figure, it can be human, maybe not. The secret being of things.

SHARON ELLIS, Galactic Heart, 2015 alkyd on paper, 12" x 16" Courtesy of the artist and Christopher Grimes Gallery

SHARON ELLIS, Galactic Heart, 2015
alkyd on paper, 12″ x 16″ Courtesy of the artist and Christopher Grimes Gallery

It is not an image. It is a feeling.
There is no image in the hero.
There is a feeling as definition.
How could there be an image, an outline,
A design, a marble soiled by pigeons?
The hero is a feeling, a man seen
As if the eye was an emotion,
As if in seeing we saw our feeling
In the object seen and saved that mystic
Against the sight, the penetrating,
Pure eye. Instead of allegory,
We have and are the man, capable
of his brave quickenings, the human
Accelerations that seem inhuman.

WALLACE STEVENS, Examination of the hero in a time of war, stanza xii

SHARON ELLIS, Ghost lake, 2016 alkyd on paper, 16 1/8" x 12 1/8" Courtesy of the artist and Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica

SHARON ELLIS, Ghost lake, 2016
alkyd on paper, 16 1/8″ x 12 1/8″ Courtesy of the artist and Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica

Is this a trompe l’oeil? A trick for our eyes? Should I polish the words and soften them until they mutate into the strange fat fingers almost marzipan coral for the moonlight, sitting by the milky way? The physical, the chemical, have gone astray. Her existence – the artist is always there holding her brush – for the time being slips out of time, in an outer space completely silent. She is the only one who can glide on the mysterious planet where flatness, and poverty of spirit, are never, will never be admitted. Even the stars have lost their dust.

Sharon Ellis paintings on paper were presented at Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica, in December 2016.

METAMORPHOSIS OF A FOLK TALE

THE GOLDEN GOOSE    by   SEAN SHIM-BOYLE

SEAN SHIM-BOYLE, The Golden Goose, 2016 Wood, Flex conduit, 138 x 382 x 131 in Courtesy of the artist and Various Small Fires Art Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo: Josh White

SEAN SHIM-BOYLE, The Golden Goose, 2016
Wood, Flex conduit, 138 x 382 x 131 in Courtesy of the artist and Various Small Fires Art Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo: Josh White

SEAN SHIM-BOYLE, The Golden Goose, 2016 Wood, Flex conduit, 138 x 382 x 131 in Courtesy of the artist and Various Small Fires Art Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo: Josh White

SEAN SHIM-BOYLE, The Golden Goose, 2016
Wood, Flex conduit, 138 x 382 x 131 in Courtesy of the artist and Various Small Fires Art Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo: Josh White

“Humans, like all living beings, have a special power, a power of transformation that is also suitable for things around us, as far as we make up our image of them. …

We are, first of all, a transformative organism more or less complex (according to the animal species) because life is necessarily given and taken, and modified, also between the persons and their environment.”
Paul Valéry, La liberté de l’esprit, 1939

The truth of this kind of statement is questionable; it’s Valéry’s positivistic intelligence of life as one bee house in which humans don’t have primacy that strikes me.

But, first of all, this is a New Year story: January 1, 2017

By Rosanna Albertini       A wall of a Los Angeles art gallery,* a few months ago, asked an artist to liberate his body from the white flatness between floor and ceiling. Nobody knew he had a body! An animal, hidden body. The more the artist opened up and moved out part of the geometrical forest of flat pieces of timber that keeps the wall steadily vertical, the more flexible the structure became, almost opening wings. The wooden surfaces became pieces of skin and bones pierced by nails, crying drops of glue, yellow tears but not like the gold the artist began to search for.

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As Ovid, and so many artists from the dawn of time, Sean Shim-Boyle made his fingers the magic tool able to unveil and amplify a structure already far from the natural trees she had been, covered with leaves, pushing roots into the ground.
“Scarcely had I swallowed the strange juices that I suddenly felt my heart trembling within me, and my whole being yearned with desire for another element. Unable long to stand against it, I cried aloud: ‘Farewell, O Earth, to which I shall never return!’” This was Glaucous, speeding from the surface of Ovid’s book, Metamorphosis, chapter XIII.

The golden goose as well could scream: ‘Farewell O Wall, let me fly to my artist.’

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And the artist changes an inanimate stiffness into a movable variety of organs. Although silent, the wooden limbs develop a language directed to the eyes, pages of a story made with textures, colors and cuts. They push feathers of course, always made of wood, to open our mind to the popular versions of metamorphosis like the ones told by an old aunt near the stove, or by the bed, to children ready to grab the thread of her words and sew it into their dreams. Close your eyes with them, dear reader. Your sense of reality could expand. You might wake up holding a goose with golden feathers like the Brothers Grimm story about Dummling, a simpleton who picked up the precious bird from the roots of a tree and collected the funniest group of thieves around the goose. Trying to steal the golden feathers, the thieves remained glued to the goose in an absurd carousel. Looking at them, the king’s daughter finally laughed and married the Dummling. Same laughter in Italy, where the tale didn’t bring golden feathers, only a fine goose. But magic! As soon as somebody tried to grab her, the beast screamed: ‘Quack Quack, stick to my back!’ Another carousel of stuck people made the sad princess laugh.

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No doubt Sean Shim Boyle felt in his own body a ‘power of transformation.’ Although The Golden Goose was supposed to be covered by something recalling a skin, the artist fell in love with the anatomical story. He gives us the pleasure to look at the inside of this sculpted body, and stop on his arbitrary ligaments. Back to physicality, veins in the panels, windows of connective tissues, spots of aging in flattened surfaces of bark. Changing colors. The signs of natural and artificial making are history and fairy tale at once. The gold is in the mind. His, mine, yours? Frankly, I couldn’t tell. Maybe it’s in the earth.
“A realm without perspective, a realm of sensuality and desire that gathers all into the lips’ uncertain space – uncertain because it straddles interior and exterior, self and other.
A space of fusion, of total osmosis.
A surface that envelops, that caresses the brain and the images that our thoughts produce.”
Giuseppe Penone, Branches of Thought, 2014

It’s a clear day, cold and without wind. Golden leaves are still on the trees in front of my window. I wish we could all laugh and mutate into our favorite imaginary body. Had this been possible we would have already started the journey. Instead, we start the day reading the New York Times.

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All the detail photos are by R.A.
*Various Small Fires Art Gallery, Los Angeles
Italian Folktales, selected and retold by Italo Calvino, Translated by George Martin, Pantheon Books, New York, 1980
The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Pantheon Books, New York, 1944