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Articles by: Maya Paula

  • Art & Culture

    "View/ Vista": an Italian Artist's Vision on Display

    Italian artist Gianni Dessì is not one to shy away from the unconventional in his works, always aiming to engage his audience and urge them to approach his pieces from all perspectives. New York University's Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò is the proud host of his newest exhibition, "View/Vista," which simultaneously attracts viewers with its bright colors and asks them to take a step back and reconsider the spectral figures of its subjects. Curated by the Casa's Art Consultant, Isabella Del Frate Rayburn, these one of a kind works are not to be missed.

    A graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome under the tutelage of Toti Scialoja, Italian poet and abstract painter whose works were displayed in the Casa Italiana just last year, Dessì is strongly influenced by abstract forms that not only speak for themselves, but engage in a complex conversation with the space they are in. Since his emergence on the art scene in the late seventies, Dessì has been concerned with the interaction between his pieces and their surroundings. One of his first undertakings involved his audience following a trail of blue lights in the tunnel of Rome's San Pietro station while viewing his works and their short descriptions.

    Immediately upon entering the exhibition space at the Casa Italiana, the viewer is struck with the thoughtful arrangement of the pieces, which act as an interplay between the artist's past works and his contemporary focus. The first piece that capture's one's eye shares its name with the exhibit, "View/Vista" - an eight panel polyptych generated with charcoal on a combination of wood, paper and glass.

    The subject of the black and white images seems indiscernible at first glance, yet upon further investigation, the eye begins to pick up on the multitude of rectangles of different shapes and sizes that mirror the assembly of panels which make up the piece. Each rectangle contains another shape within, one which the viewer soon realizes is a representation of previous works by Dessì, each arranged on different planes to resemble an art gallery - a retrospective of the artist's career through the years. A map is also made available to visitors, which presents in detail the precise works which Dessì conjures up in his polyptych.

    While this exhibit is not Dessì's most daring in reference to the space, he evokes a sense of depth and intersecting planes in his works, mainly "View/Vista," which lead the viewer's eyes across the canvas and invite them to explore the rest of the works in the two rooms of the Casa. In addition to the artist's concern with the relationship between past and present, tradition and the avant-garde, Dessì's works aim to make a commentary about the role of nature in art. The frustrating rivalry between nature and art is especially embodied by the works in this exhibit, as the artist constantly strives to match the perfection of nature's creations.

    Several of Dessì's pieces in particular illustrate this connection between nature and art. It is most explicit in "Senza titolo (la nature fa il verso all'arte)", a large caves with an outstanding river stone at its center, acting as nature's tongue, which it stick out in art's direction. An interesting conversation arises between this work and the artist's self portrait - a black canvas with light strokes that evoke his characteristic appearance, and his hands held in the air, as if to signify his concession to the arduous aspect of his career.

    The juxtaposition of art and nature is apparent also in the exhibition space; Dessì's canvases hang on walls that surround the Casa Italiana's garden. It is at the door that leads to the outdoor area where visitors may find the exhibition's only sculpture, "Lucciola." Though he had gotten his start as a painter, Dessì first exhibited sculptures in 2003, in Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza's courtyard in Rome including "Qui ora," which featured a large hand holding a yellow lantern. "Lucciola" is reminiscent of this sculpture - two hands which are gently clasped together, and in the space between them, a firefly flickers.

    At the exhibit's opening ceremony on May 1st, the director of the Casa Italiana, Stefano Albertini, spoke of this sculpture, presented at an honor ceremony for director Pier Paolo Pasolini last year, saying it acts as a reminder that "art is alive but needs to protected, and not crushed." This same delicacy is found in all of the the smaller canvases, tied together not only by their beautiful, vibrant colors, but also by the light, yet deliberate and definitive strokes. Each work in the "Riflessi," or "Reflections," series, whether it is a self-portrait or a sensual depiction of a couple's embrace, is comprised of soft, rounded lines. These, when viewed from different perspectives, reveal a myriad of subjects and emotions.

    The exhibit will be displayed at the Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò until May 31st, and will give its visitors the perfect opportunity to view these works, right as the artist makes a comeback to the city's abstract art scene. The artist's audience will surely share Director Albertini hope that "View/Vista" will help in providing Dessì with further success in New York.

  • Events: Reports

    Giro d’Italia Brings a Piece of Cycling History to the City

    Anyone who has recently passed through Times Square is surely familiar with the bubble-gum pink “Giro d’Italia” logo on the world’s largest video screen. A similar image must be projected in the minds of thousands of cyclists awaiting the annual TD Five Boro Bike Tour, scheduled to take place this weekend on Sunday, May 5th. This year New York’s cycling tour has joined efforts with Italy’s famous Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia, to stage a fully authentic Italian-style cycling experience for its participants.

    Ask any Italian what their favorite sport is and no doubt their answer will be cycling - after soccer, that is. Afterall, the Giro d’Italia is a significant part of Italy’s history, having been around for over a century. The first tour was organized after the country’s major sports newspaper, La Gazzetta dello Sport, had successfully held an automobile race. Inspired by the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia was born in 1909, and has been running annually with the exception of the years during World Wars I and II.

    More than a decade after the first completely Italian tour, “the Giro’s” route deviated into Switzerland, marking the event’s first cross-over into another country. Now that the spirit of the Giro d’Italia has finally crossed the Atlantic, it has made a great impression on the Gran Fondo phenomenon that has been sweeping the United States in the past years.

    The idea of the Gran Fondo has become more popular in recent years, and while the Giro d’Italia is reserved for professional cyclists, with a specific route and race format that is adjusted yearly, bike races in the United States have been adapting their formats to resemble a typical Gran Fondo structure. This year, Giro d’Italia’s influence will be felt most strongly in the organization of four distinct Gran Fondo tours. Besides the TD Five Boro Bike Tour in New York, “the Giro” has already animated Monterey, CA at the Sea Otter Classic in April, and will eventually arrive at the Los Angeles-Pasadena Gran Fondo on June 2nd, and in Miami’s Coral Gables on November 10th.

    While the Giro d’Italia is a three-week event that covers a distance of 3405 km, or about 2116 miles, Gran Fondos are usually defined as a combination of recreational cycling and competition, covering a fairly long distance. Each of these four tours determines their individual format, with the route of New York’s Five Boro Tour spanning around forty miles. The distance was set to accommodate riders of all ages and difficulty levels, including children.

    The Five Boro Bike Tour, first organized in February of 1977, is influenced by its renowned Italian partner in more than just its name. 32,000 cyclists will ride in this weekend's event, 2,000 of which have registered as VIP members and will enjoy a variety of Italian-themed perks.

    All participants will have the exciting and one of a kind opportunity to ride alongside Gianni Bugno, first-place cyclist in the Giro d'Italia in 1990 and the UCI World Champion in both 1991 and 1992. Bugno will be available for photos and autographs at the biking Expo, held at Pier 36, Basketball City on May 3rd and 4th, as well as at the VIP area at the finish line on the day of the tour.

    VIP cyclists will tour the city as the Italians do by enjoying a, starting off with a delicious breakfast to power them through the day, and finishing their journey with an indulgent massage. At the finish line, VIP riders will enjoy live music, as well as tasty Sicilian pasta dish at the Italian-style party in Staten Island, the final destination of the tour. Other incentives include a personalized bike registration number, goodie bag and an official Five Boro cycling jersey by Santini, which has a time chip that measures the climb of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.

    The bike tour will commence in downtown Manhattan, and continue north along the city’s most famous sites, including the Flatiron building, the site of the Freedom Tower, Central Park and Radio City Music Hall. Moving through Harlem and the Bronx, cyclists will enjoy the breeze along the East River before taking the Ed Koch bridge to Brooklyn. They will finish by crossing the Verrazano Narrows bridge to Staten Island.

    The event is proudly sponsored by Vittoria, Selle Italia, Limar, Santini, Bianchi, Bicycling Magazine, La Gazzetta dello Sport and Interbike. Not only is it a great way to explore the city and meet fellow passionate cyclists, it is a perfect way of getting in touch with Italian culture in America, right in time for the Year of Italian Culture in the United States.


    Event Date: Sunday, May 5th, 2013
    Start Line: Intersection of Franklin Street and Church Street
    VIP Entry Point: Canal Street and Church Street (This is also the entry point for the breakfast.)

    Breakfast: Begins at 6am

    7:30 – Intro & Announcements
    7:45 – Start 1

    8:20 – Intro & Announcements
    8:30 – Start 2

    9:05 – Intro & Announcements
    9:15 – Start 3

    Finish Festival at Fort Wadsworth (Staten Island)

    Expo (where and opening time)

    May 3 10am – 8pm
    May 4 9am – 7pm
    Location: Basketball City Pier
    36 299 South Street

    More info >>>

  • Events: Reports

    Gianmaria Testa Takes on the City

    The soothing songs of Gianmaria Testa can make anyone feel as of they were his closest friend. His low voice has that power; to transport the listener into another realm, where he enchants you with small secrets about a life you feel you’ve been a part since the beginning.

    His music does not pretend to be something it’s not. Its beauty exists in the simplicity of his poetic lyrics and soft, welcoming beats.  Born in the north of Italy, near Cuneo, in 1958, Testa is like your favorite relative, who tells you a new story about his past each time he comes to visit. His latest CD, “Vitamia,” or “Mylife” in English, is a journey through the artist’s life, as he ponders the moments that make up the whole of his fifty-five years. Testa owes the inspiration for his work to a friend who once told him, “Try to measure your life in days instead of years. You’ll see how it changes your perspective.”

    Taking this into account, Testa had begun entertaining the idea of this disc at the age of eighteen. The idea eventually grew past this young age, and Testa decided to name the CD in a way that would reflect his life as a whole. He chose instead to title one of his songs “18 mila giorni” or “18 Thousand Days,” recalling the advice which first sparked his vision for the work.

    Although Testa sings in Italian, up to this point he has made his greatest artistic  impression in France, where his first three CDs were produced. Today he is a renowned artist in all of Europe, and will soon enthrall American listeners as well, as he is scheduled to perform at Joe’s Pub in New York on Saturday, May 4th, 2013. Whether concert goers are long-time fans, or have only recently become acquainted with his music, the event will certainly draw a crowd of anyone looking to enjoy an evening of personal lyrics, accompanied by evocative melodies that impart a sense of familiarity on its listeners.

    Perhaps it is Testa’s attention to the daily occurrences of life, or the almost tangible images and sounds of nature that his music is founded on, that appeal most to his audience. “Vitamia,” which was released on the artist’s birthday in 2011, was recorded within a week’s time, the priority of the CD being its “live” feel, an aspect of the music that adds to the effect of the artist seemingly revealing to the audience a private view of his world.

    Many of the album’s songs will certainly invoke a sense of nostalgia in its listeners, one that is owed to the fact that Testa’s music often serves as a reflection on his life. He contemplates how the past affects the present and the future, not only his own, but also those of his country and society at large. His attention to society’s fate is reflected in the track “18 mila giorni,” dedicated to Italian novelist Erri De Luca, who he claims had “sought at some point to imagine a different future.”

    “Vitamia’s” eleven tracks were produced in very close collaboration with the artist’s regular musical companions: Claudio Dadone, assistant in track arrangement and pre-production, Giancarlo Bianchetti on guitars, Nicola Negrini on double bass, Phillipe Garcia on percussion, and Roberto Cipelli on piano. Several songs, such as “Lele,” feature the talent of guest musicians like violinists Mario Brunello and Carlo De Martini, accordion player Luciano Biondini, as well as Gianluca Petrellam, who enhances songs like “Cordiali saluti” and “Di niente, metà” with the creative and intimate tones of his trombone.
    The album was produced by Paola Farinetti and is distributed by Egea Records in Italy and by Harmonia Mundi in the rest of the world. It is available on iTunes, Amazon.com, and BN.com, along with the rest of Testa’s albums.
    Joe's Pub is located at 425 Lafayette St., New York, NY. Tickets are $20.00. To purchase, call 001 212-967-7555 or click HERE


    Online Press Kit
    Official Website
    Produzioni Fuorivia
    Gianmaria Testa Facebook
    Produzioni Fuorivia Facebook
    Nuovo Video
    Lasciami Andare Video


  • Events: Reports

    Lingue Migranti: a Dialectic on the Languages of Italy

    April 25th, the day when Italians celebrate the anniversary of their liberation from the German Nazis and the Fascist regimes, holds yet another sense of interest for Italian Americans in New York. The John D. Calandra Italian American Institute has scheduled their annual conference, “Lingue Migranti: The Global Languages of Italy and the Diaspora” to start on the Italian national holiday and extend to the 27th of April.

    Aside from Italy’s history surrounding both World Wars I and II, the country has had a turbulent timeline, its map having been rearranged through a myriad of appropriations and separations. Italy as it exists today has only been around for approximately 152 years, though its extensive cultural foundations stem to antiquity. While the country remains segmented into twenty distinct provinces, the stark division between them is owed to the dialects, which animate each region.

    Following Italy’s unification, inhabitants speaking dialects ranging from Neapolitan to Venetian were expected to learn the Tuscan dialect, as it became the official language of the state. The Calandra Institute aims not only to focus on the polemics of such an imposition, especially when viewed in context of the mass emigration from Italy to the United States, but also to inspire conversation from the perspective of Italian American literature, minority groups in Italy and the Italian language today, as it operates in Italy and abroad.

    The first full day of the conference, Friday April 26th, will feature speakers concerned with expressing views on topics ranging from Italian dialects in the theatrical sphere, whether this means performances in dialect or representations of Italians immigrant culture on stage, to Judeo-Italian culture of the Mediterranean. The conference’s afternoon session will feature an examination of minority groups and their languages as they appear in Italy, this including the Griko and Albanian cultures of central and southern Italy, as well as the German and Cymbrian people.

    Friday’s discussions will also cover Italian literature written in dialect, best embodied by writers Luigi Capuana and Massimo Bontempelli, as well as the art of translating Italian-American authors. It will conclude with an analysis of the limits imposed on immigrant literature in Italy.

    The discussion will continue on Saturday with another full day of thought-provoking topics that take a more modern approach to the Italian culture and language. The day will begin by taking a look at the question of authentic vs. inauthentic representations in Guido culture, moving further to the evolution of linguistic practices and identities, especially in Italian-American youth. The following panel will address Postcolonial languages and language in general as a “means of resistance” to colonization.

    Additionally, speakers will approach the idea of dialects in everyday conversation, as well as consider the ways in which the Italian language is regarded abroad. Attendees may find the “Italian Language in Argentina” seminar especially interesting in light of Argentinian Pope Francis I’s Italian heritage. The evening will conclude with an entertaining discussion of the language in lyric form, as well as the diffusion of dialect into Italian music.


    ANNUAL CONFERENCE  (the full program itinerary)
    Lingue Migranti
    The Global Languages of Italy and the Diaspora
    April 26-27, 2013

    John D. Calandra Italian American Institute

    Queens College, City University of New York

    25 West 43rd Street, 17th floor, (between 5th and 6th Avenues), Manhattan

    Program Subject to Change    

    THURSDAY EVENING. 6:00 pm  will act as a welcoming reception to encourage opening comments and discussion.

    The conference will be conducted in English.

    FRIDAY, APRIL 26, 2013

    9:00-9:30 am

    Coffee and Pastries 
    9:30-10:45 am

    Conference Room

    Dialect and Performance

    Chair: Anthony Julian Tamburri, John D. Calandra Italian American Institute

    Multiple Dialects on the Italian Stage: Commedia Techniques in Vergilio Verucci's Li diversi linguaggi

    Stefano Boselli, Independent Scholar

    Performing the Sicilian: Angelo Musco in Nino Martoglio's L'aria del continente

    Janice Capuana, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY

    Staging Immigration: The Dramatic Dialect of Cocoliche

    Elisa Legon, Baruch College, CUNY

    11:00 am-12:15 pm

    Conference Room

    Judeo-Italian in the Circum-Mediterranean

    Chair: Siân Gibby, John D. Calandra Italian American Institute

    Italian Varieties in Mediterranean Areas during the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

    Fabrizio Franceschini, Università di Pisa

    The Italian/Italophone Jewish Trauma of "Forced Repatriation": The Case of Victor Magiar

    Rosario Pollicino, University of Connecticut

    "Submerged" Italian in Tunis: Italian and Its Dialects as Heritage Language

    Alessandro Orfano, Università di Pisa 
    La Galleria

    Language and Literature

    Chair: Rosangela Briscese, John D. Calandra Italian American Institute

    Language, Class, and Politics: The Use of Sicilian and Italian by Luigi Capuana in Gli "americani" di Ràbbato, 'Ntrrugatoriu, and 'U Cavaleri Pidagna

    Santi Buscemi, Middlesex County College
    Theorizing Migration: Realismo magico and Massimo Bontempelli's Giro del sole

    Amelia Moser, Italian Poetry Review 
    12:15-1:30 pm   

    Lunch on your own

    1:30-2:45 pm

    Conference Room

    Minority Languages in Italy

    Chair: Peter G. Vellon, Queens College, CUNY

    Examining Current Griko Identity through Oral Tradition, Folklore, and Cultural Manifestations

    Angelyn Balodimas-Bartolomei, North Park University

    Albanian Linguistic and Cultural Islands in Central and Southern Italy

    Vincenzo Bollettino, Montclair State University

    German as a Minority Language in Italy with Special Emphasis on Cymbrian/Zimbrisch/Cimbro

    Ermenegildo Bidese, Università degli Studi di Trento, and James R. Dow, Iowa State University 
    La Galleria


    Chair: Fred Gardaphé, Queens College, CUNY

    John Fante Was Not an Outlier

    Mary-Faith Cerasoli, Mercy College

    Ties That Bind: Translation and the Development of an Intergenerational Literary Tradition

    Gil Fagiani, Italian American Writers Association

    3-4:45 pm

    Conference Room

    Immigrant Literature in Italy

    Chair: Teresa Fiore, Montclair State University

    The Limits of the Italian Language for Immigrants' Acceptance into Italian Society: Amara Lakhous's Scontro di civiltà per un ascensore a piazza Vittorio

    Elizabeth Venditto, University of Minnesota

    The Language In-Between: The Interplay of Albanian and Italian in Gëzim Hajdari's Poetry

    Anita Pinzi, Graduate Center, CUNY

    Amara Lakhous's Clash of Civilizations over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio and Defining Italian Identity in a Globalized Italy

    Grace Russo Bullaro, Lehman College, CUNY

    Folktale, Legend, and the Novel in the Works of Ornela Vorpsi

    Viktor Berberi, University of Minnesota 
    SATURDAY, APRIL 27, 2013

    9:30-10:45 am

    Conference Room

    Language and Evolving Italian-American Identities

    Chair: Donna M. Chirico, York College, CUNY

    Authenticity and Inauthenticity in Italian-American Cultural Manifestations: Youth Reactions to Guido Culture

    Jefferson Triozzi and Anna De Fina, Georgetown University

    The New Wave of Italians: Linguistic Practices and Attitudes

    Luciana Fellin, Duke University

    Evolving Linguistic Identities among Second-Generation Italian-American Youths

    Hermann W. Haller, Queens College/Graduate Center, CUNY

    11 am-12:15 pm

    Conference Room

    Postcolonial Languages

    Chair: George de Stefano, Independent Scholar

    Language as a Means of Resistance in Gabriella Ghermandi's Regina di fiori e di perle

    Melina Masterson, University of Connecticut

    Re-Embracing Italian National and Linguistic Identity in Africa

    Annemarie Tamis-Nasello, Fashion Institute of Technology, SUNY

    "Tripoli era dolce, per gli italiani": Postcolonial Italian Writers in Tripoli and Benghazi

    Daniele Comberiati, Université Libre de Bruxelles 
    La Galleria

    Dialects in Everyday Communication in Italy

    Chair: Robert Oppedisano, Editor

    Narrative and Argumentative Discourse between Dialect and Italian: An Analysis of the "Linguistic Atlas of Sicily" Corpus

    Giuseppe Paternostro, Università degli Studi di Palermo

    Performing Eloquence in Public: The Interplay of Veneto Dialect and Standard Italian

    Sabina Perrino, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

    Dialect in Peer Interaction in a Sicilian Elementary School

    Anna De Fina, Georgetown University

    12:15-1:30 pm  

    Lunch on your own

    1:30-2:45 pm

    Conference Room


    Is Italian a Global Language? Evidence from the History to the Near Future

    Stefania Giannini, Senate of the Republic, Italy

    3:00-4:15 pm

    Conference Room

    Italian Abroad

    Chair: Nancy C. Carnevale, Montclair State University

    Lingua Esule: The Risorgimento Exiles and the Teaching of Italian in the United States

    Stefano Luconi, Università degli Studi di Padova

    The Italian Language in Argentina: From Nostalgia to Practical Opportunities for the Future

    Luciana Zollo, Independent Scholar

    Is Italian on the Move in Toronto?

    Naomi Nagy, University of Toronto

    La Galleria

    Everyday Use

    Chair: Roberto Dolci, L'Università per Stranieri di Perugia

    Linguistic Sustainability: A Look into the Venetian Dialect and Its Importance to Cultural and Regional Identity

    Carmeline Morris, Goucher College

    Blended Mind and Voice: Use of Italian and English-Hybridization, Italianization, Local Accents, Regional Dialects

    Jane McCall Politi, Independent Scholar

    Gender Assignment and the Italo-Romance Mass/Count Distinction: Perspective from Language Contact

    Anna L. Moro, McMaster University

    4:30-6:00 pm

    Conference Room

    The Language of Music

    Chair: Joseph Sciorra, John D. Calandra Italian American Institute

    "You Must Always Protect the Dialects": Regional Languages and Contemporary Southern Italian Music

    George de Stefano, Independent Scholar

    Sing, Wop, Sing: Reading Songs as a Political Nomadic Voice, from Almamegretta to Raiz

    William Anselmi, University of Alberta, and Lise Hogan, Independent Scholar

    "Non si capiscono le parole": When Italian Lyrics Deal with Italian Audiences in Subsonica's Music

    Simona Martini, Università degli Studi, Milan

    The Intersection of Languages and Cultures in Roberta Torre's

    Tano da Morire

    Francesca de Lucia, Independent Scholar 
    Free and open to the public.

    You will need to show a photo ID to the building's concierge.  

    All presentations are held at the Calandra Institute.

    John D. Calandra Italian American Institute 

    25 West 43rd Street, 17th floor, (Between 5th and 6th Avenues)
    New York, New York 10036

    RSVP (encouraged but not required) by calling (212) 642-2094.   

    Please note that seating is limited and we cannot reserve seats.   

    For further information see our Web site at www.qc.edu/calandra.