VILLA ROSSA TALKS
SPRING 2018 PROGRAM
Negative Utopias. Superstudio and “Radical” Architecture.
Monday, January 29
Florence 1966. The city was covered in the mud of the flood and the university milieu was at the dawn of the protest era. In an age that the philosopher Guy Debord had just called the «society of spectacle», a bunch of students started focusing on the deep meaning of architecture in its many forms of representation. Refusing a generic interdisciplinary approach, the groups Superstudio and Archizoom, followed by many others, proposed the adoption of a wider view and a radical rethinking of architecture and design. By replacing traditional and comforting imagery with a universe of estranging objects and dystopian visions, they ultimately revealed how every research of ultimate objects — the utopia of modern times — is physiologically destined to failure.
Africa in the Uffizi: A Renaissance portrait of an Ethiopian king.
Monday, February 12
Visitors to the Uffizi today enter from the narrow cortile, open to the Arno river on one end and the Piazza della Signoria on the other, and ascend a wide staircase before emerging in one of the three wide corridors that together form the distinctive U of the museum’s galleries. Installed in a continuous line along the length of these halls, tucked just below the frescoed ceilings where they are easily overlooked, are several hundred portraits of celebrated historical figures. This talk looks closely at one of these paintings: an image of the Ethiopian emperor Lebnä-Dengel, copied in the 1560s at the behest of Cosimo I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, from the original which hung in the historian Paolo Giovio’s vast portrait gallery on Lake Como. An African ruler’s inclusion in this collection of renowned individuals invites us to consider what special significance both he and the region of Ethiopia held for the Italians who displayed his likeness, and to question how an ‘African’ image created a significant space for cross-cultural encounter and production of knowledge in the Renaissance.
Orange Fiber: How to Turn Citrus into Sustainable Fashion.
Tuesday, February 20
Orange Fiber is the brainchild of two young Sicilian women from Catania, Adriana Santanocito, and Erica Arena. It is a new eco-sustainable company that produces a textile from the leftovers from the citrus fruit industry (currently about 700.00 tons in Italy). Erica and Adriana’s brilliant idea has been so successful that they have been asked to create a capsule collection for Ferragamo.
Round Table on Populism.
Manuel Anselmi, Paul Blokker and Debora Spini
Monday, March 12
Despite its fuzziness, the use of the term “populism” has grown in the past few years. Academics and journalists apply it broadly to describe the most different movements and politics in Europe and in America. Some scholars linked it to frustration over declines in status or welfare, some see it as more of a political strategy in which a charismatic leader appeals to the masses while sweeping aside institutions. The round-table will try to clarify the meaning of this important phenomenon.
Bodies, Practices and Representations of Neapolitans Femminielli and Transexual People.
Tuesday, March 20
Femminielle belong to the very tradition of Naples and can be considered as part of the cultural history of the town. Members of the urban underclass of Naples, they live(d) their gender variance in this specific – and deeply culturally determined – environment. The homologation, in recent years, to mainstream models of homosexuality and trans-sexuality, along with the process of institutionalization and medicalization of trans-people have threatened the cultural identity of the Neapolitan femminielle, putting their very existence at risk.