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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