Italian Culture: the Journey Continues: making the announcement are large luminous panels bearing icons of Italy’s tradition and innovation located at bus stops in the U.S. capital. This is the catchphrase of the campaign under way in Washington. A new campaign, following in the tracks of the promotions for the Year of Italian Culture: from spots on national radio to ads on buses and in the metro, from billboards in U.S. airports to placards in Washington’s railway station. In 2013, we offered up a journey with an enticing itinerary through art and cinema, music and theater, science and design, and much more. A fascinating adventure through more than 300 events in over 60 cities in the U.S. Our message is clear. The journey continues this year. The schedule is once again intensive, especially as it coincides with an important event, Italy’s assumption of the Presidency of the European Council on July 1, and in view of another milestone event which sees Italy once again in center stage, Expo 2015 in Milan, centered on the theme of Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life. Europe is the main political and economic partner of the USA. Italy is a founding country of the EU and plays a crucial role in strengthening the transatlantic bond and developing it to full potential. One complex but indispensable goal is signature of the Transatlantic Partnership on Trade and Investment (TTIP), the future large free trade area between the EU and the U.S. which, according to recent studies, will bring increases in trade and gross domestic product of both sides. Despite the obvious advantages, many obstacles still stand. There is resistance on both sides of the Atlantic. One very sensitive issue, for example, is the matter of protected designations of origin that Europeans, and Italians in particular, would like to see protected in the U.S. as well. The reason, here again, is cultural. It is on the same order as protecting biodiversity. Just as various species of plants and animals are protected, we expect that many of the different products making up our unique assets be protected as well. This leads us back to Expo 2015 and its theme, which is at the same time local and global. The culture of food is deeply rooted in our history and our identity. Agricultural products and wines, icons of our lands, are the result of not only skilled craftsmanship and traditions but of innovation and creativity as well – the ability to preserve the DNA of our flavors, ensuring quality and strict compliance with today’s latest and most rigorous standards. At the same time, food is a global challenge, how to feed a world population that will reach 9 billion in 2050. We are very pleased that during his recent visit to Rome this past March 27, President Obama announced that the USA would participate in the Expo in Milan. The United States is an indispensable partner in all major issues affecting our planet. I mention these aspects because I want to underline how the success of 2013 has confirmed that culture, a fundamental tool of public diplomacy, is a means for promoting Italy’s image, for dialogue and for friendship. It benefits our economic system as well. It can continue doing so. The fact that the program of events was 80% financed by private funds demonstrates that culture offers companies an effective platform for visibility. It is not a cost; rather it is an investment. Even, and perhaps especially, in times of crisis. Strengthen the friendship between Italy and the U.S., showcase our cultural heritage, promote Italian technological excellence, foster tourism to our country, expand the learning of Italian, disseminate Made in Italy, generate further collaboration between cultural institutions. These are the goals inspiring our actions. And many fruitful collaborations were generated by 2013: agreements for future exhibitions between museums; accords with universities for exchange and joint degree programs; new foundations for the purpose of disseminating Italian art and talent; innovative projects to bring ancient Roman artifacts to be studied, restored, and exhibited by universities and museums; a new framework agreement for space cooperation between NASA and ASI; and two powerful contemporary sculptures (cover of the latest issue of Welcome to Italy) in the heart of Manhattan that stand as permanent legacy of the Year of Culture and symbol of the friendship between Italy and the United States. The success of 2013 also confirmed the value of teamwork and the importance of public access, especially for the many enthusiasts and fans, to information on Italian culture. This gave way to the idea of creating a single, all-inclusive showcase for cultural events taking place throughout the United States. The portal ITALYinUS.org is simultaneously a statement of fact and a work in progress. The fact is that a bit of Italy is always present in U.S. life: the family album; love of art, literature, music, and good food; a certain garment, car, or design piece; the emotional reaction to a movie or landscape; the thick network of collaborations in science and technology; the valuable network of partnerships between companies. Secretary of State John Kerry described this perfectly in remarks he gave while visiting Rome: «But in truth, Italian culture is everywhere in our country. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t dance to it, laugh to it, sing it, think about it, look at it, feel it, and everybody I know dreams always of coming to Italy at some point». The work in progress is to make Italy even better known. The Italy that is in all of us – Italians, Americans, other nationalities – as a source of inspiration and lifestyle. The Italy that is already here and becomes always more visible in the United States. The journey continues, then. While waiting for our American friends to visit us in Italy for the first time or for the umpteenth time, we want them to have lots of Italy here. Lots of new stopovers. And a new and exciting journey.
The inauguration of the Italian Presidency of the European Council will be greeted here in the United States with an important opening event in the U.S. capital. The spotlight will be on a masterpiece by Titian: the beautiful Danae, daughter of the king of Argos and mother of Perseus. The masterpiece from the Museo di Capodimonte will be on display at the National Gallery of Art from July to mid fall, the same influential museum that last year hosted both the opening (with Michelangelo’s David – Apollo from the Museum of the Bargello) and the conclusion (with the Dying Gaul from the Capitoline Museums) of the Year of Italian Culture. The Danae will be in good company–with other of Titian’s mythology-themed works on exhibit at the NGA (Venus with a Mirror and Venus and Adonis) and the Portrait of Ranuccio Farnese, younger brother of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese who also commissioned Titian for the sensual Danae. This stunning exhibition will be preceded and followed by many events, in Washington and in other cities. For example, the Regio di Torino (Turin Royal Theater, with conductor Gianandrea Nosesa, choir, orchestra, and soloists) will tour several U.S. cities with peformances of Rossini’s William Tell in Chicago (3 December), New York (December 7), and Ann Arbor (December 9). Given the theme of travel through Italian culture, a series of events will focus on topics related to travel itself. In the nation’s capital there will be a conference organized by the Italian Institute of Research created at Georgetown University during The Year of Italian Culture with the purpose of calling attention to Italian creativity in all fields, from art to science. Scheduled for May 30, the conference will address the theme of travel in imagination, through cinema and literature. Among the speakers will be Nobel Prize for Literature Mario Vargas Llosa, introducing his latest play adapted from the Decameron; Italian novelist Alessandro Baricco, founder of the Holden School of Creative Writing; and three-time Academy Award winner Vittorio Storaro, gifted Director of Photography for films directed by Francis Ford Coppola and Bernardo Bertolucci. There is more still inspired by or narrating travel: photographic exhibitions, ENIT poster classics, a film series (classics but mostly contemporary). The 450th anniversary of Galileo, father of the modern scientific method, will be celebrated during a conference on brain research. A show with actress Iaia Forte of The Great Beauty will also pay tribute to Oscar-winning director Paolo Sorrentino and his book Hanno tutti ragione as translated for the stage. Music will also play a starring role with, for example, the Cameristi della Scala, an extraordinary company from Italy’s internationally celebrated theater, which will tour several U.S. cities with performances of the Four Seasons by Vivaldi and Astor Piazzolla. It would be impossible to give a complete listing here so I would suggest consulting the portal ITALYinUS.org, where events can be searched by date, genre or city (see piece on p. 09). The site will be continuously updated and supplemented. Here we can signal out only a few examples. Next stop after Washington is New York. First is one of the major exhibitions on Italian art in the USA, I am referring to Italian Futurism, 1909-1944: Reconstructing the Universe” at the Guggenheim until September 1st. A great overview of the Futurist movement from the beginning until its extinction at the end of the Ww2. It is a review not only of paintings, but of sculpture, architecture, design, fashion, ceramics, photography, advertising, theater, and all the other forms of expression of the revolutionary Futurist movement. The same is true for the interdisciplinary anthology dedicated to Fortunato Depero, the futurist artist with a passion for crossing over into other artistic movements from Dadaism to metaphysical painting. Here again there are not only paintings and sculptures, but furniture, design objects, costumes and sets, and much more as well on display until June 28 at the Centre for Modern Italian Art (CIMA), recently created in New York for the purpose not only of organizing exhibitions but also of promoting merit worthy research projects through scholarships. The Marinetti and Papini movement will also be spotlighted by the Grand Futurist Evening, a dance-theatrical show by Maximilian Finazzer Flory that will start off in Washington and then move on to New York and a number of other cities. Going back four centuries from Futurism to Mannerism, is The Turkish Slave, a beautiful portrait by Parmigianino on exhibit at the renowned Frick Collection until 20 July before moving to the Legion of Honor in San Francisco from July 26 to October 5. The theme of Europe, especially in events at the Italian Cultural Institute, will be explored from multiple points of view: science and technology (8 October) and European identity, also through theater (24 September). Then there is Boston. Caravaggio will remain at the Museum of Fine Arts until June 15. Also planned are a film festival at the Harvard Film Archive and a seminar (Salvemini Colloquium) on Italian history and culture at the Harvard Center for European Studies. Continuing our travel, we come to Philadelphia, where again we have space to mention just a handful of events: music at the Art Museum of Philadelphia (whose flight of steps was glamorized in the film, Rocky); a conference on the legacy of Guglielmo Marconi; a meeting with the set designer of The Great Beauty; a fascinating conference on the mind and imagination in a journey to the source of human creativity. There are many other events, such as book presentations, a film festival dedicated to new Italian directors, and lectures on painting and baroque music. Giacomo Leopardi’s Zibaldone and Cantos are among the topics proposed by our Cultural Institute in Chicago, which will also curate a conference on contemporary art in collaboration with the windy city’s prestigious Art Institute. Our journey now takes us to the Florida coastline. Several events are being coordinated by the Agency for the Promotion Abroad and the Internationalization of Italian Companies (ICE), including Italy’s participation in the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show scheduled for October 30. Other events are dedicated to design, film, and promotion of the Italian language. From September 24 to 26, there will be a meeting between Italian and U.S. architects, the Eco Building Meeting; Miami Beach will host the Miami Italian Film Festival in October; two sessions of Gran Fondo in Italia (October-November) will bring Italy’s best practices in organizing authentic Italian-style cycling events. The Dante Alighieri Society of Miami/Puerto Rico is organizing two other eventys: a series of lectures on Italian Language in the World from October 20 to 23, and an Exhibit of Antique Prints that offers a portrait of Italy in prints. Moving on to the West Coast, some of the major proposals from the Consulate General and the Cultural Institute include: Europe-themed events from September 22 to 30 in San Francisco; Identity and Culture and Green Cities, joint projects between Europe and the Bay Area; the soft power of Europe; and language promotion programs. Los Angeles will be the site of another delightful program on, of course, the movies. Still, there will be events on design, art, music, and architecture as well. From June 12 to July 31 there will be an exhibition dedicated to the great Italian designer Vico Magistretti: Archival Journey. The Institute of Los Angeles has already created a mobile phone app called Italian Itineraries that will allow users to explore the city’s Italian treasures in monuments and museums. In August, there will be an event dedicated to Pasadena, while the Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions will feature Beyond Environment from September 4 to October 4, consolidating the relationship between radical Italian architecture and American avant-garde. Verdi’s La Traviata will kick off the Los Angeles Opera season. From September 19 to 21, will host the first European film festival (organized by our Consulate in collaboration with other EU partners). The November schedule will have Cinema Italian Style bringing the best of current Italian cinema to various to theaters in Hollywood and Santa Monica, while December promises a special edition of the World Festival of Cinema Sociale held annually in the Campania region (Vico Equense) that will be held in Los Angeles. There are a lot of stops on our journey. We should get started!