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NYU Florence Announces The Season – A Summer of Creative Events

Rehearsing at NYU Florence

New York University Florence announces the 13th edition of The Season at Villa La Pietra (Via Bolognese 120, Florence), a summer celebration of creative collaborations conducted throughout the grounds of the 15th century villa and its extraordinary and scenographic gardens from May 31 through August 4, 2017. World-renowned actors, writers, musicians and artists will gather to work collaboratively across disciplines to present a range of professional performances including classical compositions and concerts, theatre performances, the reading of new works and a visual arts exhibition.

As part of the worldwide celebrations of Monteverdi’s 450th birthday, The Season presented Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in PatriaMay 31, excerpts from the opera, performed by the acclaimed Italian ensemble La Venexiana. English actor Richard Emerson brought portions of Homer’s original text to life from a script adaptation by American theatre director Erica Gould. A collaboration with Salon/Sanctuary Concerts.

Internationally celebrated fiction writers and poets read from their works during the Writers Reading with Mark Bibbins, Maaza Mengiste, Alexander Chee and Catherine Barnett on June 6 – 6:00 pm.

The Season continues on June 7 (7:00PM) with La Scolta and Le Passioni dell’Anima, two ​works by composer Roberto Scarcella Perino: “La Scolta”, a world premiere concert by the women’s choir Solensemble, soloist contralto Marcella Ventura, and pianist Iolanda Franzoso based on the text by Gian Maria Annovi, and “Le passioni dell’anima” from a libretto by Federica Anichini. The evening will be ​introduced by a reading by ​poet ​Gian Maria Annovi. The Writers’ Season/La Stagione degli Scrittori, dialogues and readings with poets Guido Mazzoni, Mark Bibbins, Vivian Lamarque and Catherine Barnett and fiction writers Alexander Chee, Igiaba Scego, Maaza Mengiste and Gianluigi Ricuperati, are scheduled for June 8 and 9 (6:00 pm). Dialogues, translated in Italian and in English will be moderated by Raoul Bruni and Diego Bertelli. On June 19 (6:00 pm) Villa La Pietra will host The Pirate Who Does Not Know the Value of Pia reading and performance by poet Eugene Ostashevsky.

In their eleventh year of participation in The Season, the Continuum Company of New York presents The Odyssey – Everyone’s Seeking Something, June 12 (9:00 pm) a new theatrical adaptation of Homer’s epic poem, directed by Jim Calder. To mark the 30th anniversary of Primo Levi’s death, on June 16 (9:00 pm) Jacob Olesen performs Primo, a stage reading of If This Is A Man, Primo Levi’s powerful account of survival at Auschwitz (in Italian with English subtitles.).

The festival’s theatrical theme continues on June 22 (7:30 pm) with Sogno Rapporto di Colore, a journey of dreams in illuminated colors, a site-specific ​performance of art, dance, drama, music, and meditation​.​ Created in collaboration with visual artist Peter Terezakis, choreographer Allyson Green, Dean of NYU Tisch School of the Arts, actor John Gutierrez, choreographer Indah Walsh, British composer Alan Stones​

On June 25 (9:00 pm) the NYU Tisch School of the Arts Commedia dell’Arte students present The Imaginary Invalid, a crazy ride into the characters and plot twists of one of Europe’s most beloved playwrights, Molière. The Limonaia at Villa La Pietra will be the stage for The Merchant of Venice, June29 (9:00 pm), with four actors playing over fifteen characters in this scrappy production of Shakespeare’s dark comedy. Originally staged in a Chelsea textile warehouse, this production of The Merchant of Venice confronts how “just” justice can be in a world rank with prejudice. NYU Tisch School of the Arts Commedia dell’Arte students will perform Medusa, June 30 (1:00 pm – Courtyard of Palazzo Strozzi), a musical procession retelling the story of Medusa with a modern feminist twist.

Besides literature and theater, The Season will present Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me, on June 20 – 6:00 pm, world Première – a PBS biographical film from the acclaimed American Masters series, to be broadcast in the winter of 2017, directed by Sam Pollard and written by Laurence Maslon. It is the first documentary to examine the personal and artistic identity of this extraordinary entertainer in the context of social and racial evolution of the 20th Century. Followed by a conversation with Laurence Maslon.

​New to the offerings of The Season is Regarding Women in the Acton Collection, ​an exhibition of the work of international artists Zoe BuckmanAlessandra CapodacquaPatricia CroninBärbel Reinhard, and Deb Willis, ​who will discuss their work at the exhibition opening on June 26 (6:30 pm), ​followed by a performance by Karen E. Finley, New York-based performance artist.

Karen Finley makes her Villa La Pietra debut with this performance of The Genital ElectionFinley will present excerpts from her recent performance Unicorn Gratitude Mystery that examines pathological power, projection and gender in the US presidential election. In one excerpt Finley will perform as Donald Trump, embodying blonde feminine desire and degradation while unleashing psychosexual motivations for his presidential run against Hillary Clinton. Karen Finley is an award-winning artist of varying mediums, from her installations, music, painting, and writing to her most notable work as a performance artist. Her career brought her all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States in 1998 in a landmark case, National Endowment of the Arts v. Finley. Finley is known as one of the NEA 4, a group of artists defunded by the National Endowment of the Arts in the United States for their frank depiction of controversial and taboo issues in their work. Since the 1970s, she has pioneered in her field, recalled by many as “the chocolate smeared woman.” Her visceral work depicts issues surrounding sexuality, gender, violence, and celebrity. She is a Guggenheim fellow and recipient of the New York State Council on the Arts fellowship and the prestigious Richard J Massey Foundation Arts and Humanities Award. Her work has been featured internationally at the most esteemed venues (The Bobino in Paris, The ICA in London, Lincoln Center in New York). Her performance follows the inauguration of the exhibition Regarding Women in the Acton CollectionUsing the Acton Collection as both a productive and discursive site, this exhibition examines the depiction of women with a transhistorical perspective, adding into the Villa’s collection contemporary responses by artists and poets in an effort to investigate, challenge and expand upon received art historical categories of iconography, patronage, material and function. Regarding Women in the Acton Collection is inaugurated as part of The Season, curated and produced by Ellyn Toscano. The Season was founded in 2004 by Toscano, the Villa’s director, from her vision to set contemporary work in conversation with the Villa’s expansive grounds and eclectic art collection. Since 2004, the Season has produced collaboration and exploration between international artists of varying mediums. In context with the exhibition curated by Toscano, Finley’s performance is sure to be a riveting event that is not to be missed.

On June 28 (8:30 pm) Imani Uzuri ​will ​present her experimental visual, performative, and sonic installation entitled Come On In The Prayer Room, inspired by visual artist, street evangelist, mystic and musician Sister Gertrude Morgan’s (April 7, 1900-July 8, 1980) “all white” Prayer Room​. ​In this work, Uzuri explores the intersection of spirituality, ritual, spectacle, and sound.

The Season will conclude on August 4 (9:00 pm) with The Sir Harold Acton Anniversary Concert, a classical concert by world renowned musicians. (Program to be announced.)

All events are free of charge, but reservation is required for all the dates at lapietra.reply@nyu.edu or by calling 055/5007210.

Villa La Pietra – Via Bolognese, 120 – 50139 Firenze http://www.nyu.edu/global/lapietra/season/

The Transformative Power of Art and Ideas – Exhibition Inauguration at NYU Florence

On April 26, NYU Florence will celebrate the opening of a new exhibition, The Transformative Power of Art and Ideas. The exhibition includes fresco portraits by Fabrizio Ruggiero and projects by NYU Florence students: Angy Aguilar, Delaney Beem, Josefina Dumay Neder, Yuming Lu, Samantha Sofia Sneider, and Allegra Venturi. The exhibition will be in place from April 26 to June 18.

 The exhibition The Transformative Power of Art and Ideas pays homage to nine​ ​individuals​ ​who have​ ​worked for​ ​social justice, equality, and human dignity​ ​and have been recognized as thought leaders by the international community. The artist​ ​Fabrizio Ruggiero​ ​chose the pictorial language of fresco painting​ ​for the portraits, ​that​ he believes ​“forms the ideal medium to portray the human face”.

NYU Florence students worked​ ​with the artist throughout the semester ​​to understand​ ​his​ ​criteria​ ​for selecting ​subjects for his frescos and ​his artistic engagement with the public in a dialogue about the ideas his subjects represent. Students reflected on thought leaders in their own lives and the​ ​criteria they use to determine them.

The portraits were first exhibited in June 2015 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Charter of the United Nations and the campaign “Time for Global Action”.

NYU Florence Student Qixiu Fu Writes on Viareggio Carnevale

Today we hear from Qixiu Fu, a first year student at NYU Florence. She is thinking about majoring in psychology and feels fortunate discovered Florence. So much so that she is considering returning for Fall 2017.

Photo credit – Jasmine Zhang, first year student at NYU Florence

Un Viaggio a Viareggio Carnevale

In two minutes, the sign up for Viareggio Carnevale was full. I was so excited that I got a spot on this free OSL (Office of Student Life) trip to Viareggio to visit one of the fascinating carnivals in Italy. The first Carnival of Viareggio took place in 1873 when there was a small parade of decorated carriages organized by the wealthy people of the city. Other local citizens were annoyed by their display of wealth, so they decided to wear masks to protest the high taxes they had to pay and to show disrespect toward the ruling upper classes.

For our trip, we took a private bus to Viareggio and enjoyed a guided tour about the history of carnevale and this year’s floats. The guide told us that today Viareggio Carnevale keeps its tradition of speaking out. Talented artists, local citizens and tourists are all part of this powerful “protest”. After we received our entrance tickets from the OSL staff, we followed our guide to the parade area where we learned about floats designed to imitate and poke fun at the world’s leaders, politicians, celebrities, and current events.

Photo credit – Jasmine Zhang, first year student at NYU Florence

This year, politics was in the spotlight. What amazed me the most was the dedication each team put into their choice of float design, choreographed dance, costumes, makeup, and music. Before visiting Viareggio, my impression of Italy was stereotyped to its good wine, delicious food and attitude of enjoying life. Then, I saw a different personality of Italy in Viareggio, the active and energetic one. Viareggio is a place where you can relax by the beach and enjoy the chilly breeze of early spring, but it is also a place where you can immerse yourself in the fantasy and surreal colors of carnevale!

Anniversary of Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” Commemorated at NYU Florence and in New York

Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man,” Re-visited, Re-applied and Re-purposed, is a two Salon event, taking place on two continents, that will commemorate the 65th anniversary of this iconic novel published in April 1952. We are hosting the first Salon in Italy, at NYU Florence, because in 1955, Ralph Ellison accepted a two-year fellowship from the American Academy in Rome. The mission of the American Academy in Rome is “To live and work together in a dynamic international community,” mirrors the global network university mission of NYU. Ralph Ellison served as the New York University, Albert Schweitzer Professor of Humanities from 1971 to 1979. Ellison proclaimed that, “…the obligation of making oneself seen and heard is an imperative of American democratic individualism,” it can be argued that being visible remains a political act and a quest for self-actualization in America and abroad.

Anniversary Salons
Salon I: NYU Florence, Villa LaPietra, Florence, Italy, April 6, 2017, 6:00pm.
Confirmed Speakers: Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Harvard University; Grace Ali, Of Note Magazine/NYU Tisch School of the Arts; Jonathan Capehart, The Washington Post; Kimberly Bowes, American Academy in Rome; Allen McFarlane, NYU Student Affairs; Dr. Lisa Cesarani, NYU Florence

Salon II: New York University, Kimmel Center for University Life, Shorin Auditorium, New York, NY, April 17, 2017, 6:00pm.
Confirmed Speakers: Clint Smith, 2014 Poet Slam Champion, writer, contributor -The New Yorker Magazine; Dr. Michelle Dent, Senior Lecturer, NYU Expository Writing Program; Monroe France, NYU Student Affairs, Diversity Initiatives; Allen McFarlane, NYU Student Affairs. Special Guest: Ms. Martha Bernard, granddaughter of Ralph Ellison´s benefactor Mrs. Ida Espen Guggenheimer.

Sponsoring Organizations:

Africana Studies at NYU’s Department of Social and Cultural Analysis
NYU Campus Services
NYU Center for Multicultural Education and Programs
NYU Institute of African American Affairs in Africana Studies
International Publications Media Group
NYU Liberal Studies Program, College of Arts & Science
NYU Department of Art & Public Policy, Tisch School of the Arts
NYU Office of the Provost for Multicultural Affairs
NYU Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs
NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing
NYU Silver School of Social Work*
NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development
NYU College of Arts and Science
100 Black Men of New York City
Villa La Pietra, NYU Florence
Organized with the American Academy in Rome.

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: Anthony Appiah and Deborah Willis Speak at NYU Florence

On March 13 and March 14 respectively, NYU Philosophy professor Anthony Appiah and NYU professor and Chair of the Photography Department at Tisch Deborah Willis are speaking at NYU Florence as part of its Equity, Diversity and Inclusion programming.

Professor Appiah will participate in a dialogue about issues of identity. According to Appiah, “Not everyone accepts that you have to be a man or a woman; or that you can’t be both an Englishman and a Scot. You can claim to be of no religion or gender or race or nation. Perhaps, in each case, someone will believe you. And that is one reason why the way we often talk about these identities can be misleading.” The event, Mistaken Identities: Culture, Color, Country, Creed, will give students an opportunity to engage with a leading thinker on these issues.

The lecture from Professor Willis, Reframing Beauty: Intimate Visions, will focus on artists and photographers who are looking at the past, recreating portraits through the camera’s lens while others are re-staging beauty as a performative act. The tension explored in this lecture is found in the works that ask questions of the unknown viewer that confront the work through a wide range of media from film, video, painting, sculpture, installation art and mixed media. They explore gender and desire; humor and apathy; child games and toys and play with the imaginary through dreaming and projecting. Some use their own photographs and archival photographs to incorporate stories about social politics about injustices. These works focus on the notion of individuality and what comes together is a collective pursuit of the idea of “framing beauty” in a complex society. How does one re-image and re-imagine a history of beauty through satire and sincerity as a result of absence is critical to the questioning of beauty. One of my most powerful experiences as a curator is discovering artists who embrace the broad concept of memory to explore the complexities of life, from making visible stories of activism to transforming everyday experiences to dreaming through aspects of beauty.

NYU Florence Discusses Legitimacy, Trust and the Policing of Minorities

On 22 February, NYU Florence will host an event entitled To Serve and Protect? Legitimacy, Trust and the Policing of Minorities. Professor Guy Ben-Porat of University of the Negev will speak, after being introduced by Marcella Simoni of NYU Florence. Ethiopian protesters took to the streets of Tel Aviv in 2015 after a video of a young Ethiopian soldier beaten by police officers was aired, echoing protests in Baltimore following the death of an African American man after being taken into police custody. Guy Ben-Porat will discuss trust and distrust between police forces and the civilian population and the consequences of distrust, particularly in a multicultural society.

There are also a number of upcoming related dialogues at NYU Florence: Primo Levi’s Historical and Literary Legacy: A Conversation Between Robert Gordon and Guri Schwarz March 28, 6:00 pm, Villa Sassetti Guri Schwarz, University of Pisa Robert Gordon, University of Cambridge and Abandoning Peace? Israel’s Move to the Right April 5, 6:00 pm, Villa Sassetti Raffaella Del Sarto, Johns Hopkins University and European University Institute.

NYU Florence Focuses on Constructions of Gender in the Acton Collection and Contemporary Society this Spring

02SITOStarting on February 1, 2017 and continuing throughout the spring semester, NYU Florence’s La Pietra Dialogues will host an array of events as part of the program Picturing Women – Constructions of Gender in the Action Collection and Contemporary Society. The program opens with a poetry talk and then a poetry workshop for students and concludes with a student exhibition to open on May 2, 2017

The images of women within the Acton Collection of Villa La Pietra are numerous and richly varied. From a predominance of religious iconography in fine and decorative arts, to mythological and allegorical depictions, portraiture and scenes of domesticity, every room in the collection of some 6000 objects provides documentation through which to explore the symbolic function of gender roles and relationships across centuries. While we can enjoy the Acton Collection on the level of an aesthetic experience, a display of collecting taste, or an archive of historic art, as active viewers we become aware of a crucial tension between the gender constructions these images represented when created and their meaning and resonance in contemporary social and political contexts today.

Using the Acton Collection as both a productive and discursive site, this project examines the depiction of women with a transhistorical perspective, adding into the Villa’s collection contemporary responses by artists and poets in an effort to investigate, challenge and expand upon received art historical categories of iconography, patronage, material and function. With the undergraduate population of NYU Florence and La Pietra Dialogues, this project will explore the issues of gender, power and representation evident in the collection and search for reverberations of this visual history in contemporary artistic, social and political contexts.

 

The program details are available here via the La Pietra Dialogues website.

How January Term is Redefining Education

This is a post from NYU Abu Dhabi. Although January Term originated with NYU Abu Dhabi, now other students in NYU’s global network, notably those from NYU Shanghai, have the opportunity to experience a January Term.

Education at NYU Abu Dhabi is not just about learning facts from textbooks and passing multiple choice exams. It’s an immersive experience for NYUAD students, who, each January Term choose hands-on classes in cities from Al Ain to Buenos Aires that challenge their perceptions of the past and enrich their visions of the future.

There are dozens of courses offered in J-Term that get students out of the classroom to learn about the world as it was before, and experience the world as it really is today, like Jazz or the Financial Crisis taught in New York City, Emirati Arabic in Al Ain, Museum History in Berlin, and these seven examples that span the globe. Note: course descriptions have been edited.

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Oasis Coast and Mountain

Faculty: Steven C. Caton and Donald M. Scott
Course location: UAE and Oman

A course that challenges students’ perceptions of Arabian landscapes as being mainly desert by showing them three distinct habitat zones: desert oasis, maritime ports, and mountain farms all within 250 kilometers of each other across the UAE and Oman.

Students learn through observational site visits, direct encounters and interactions with local peoples and places through walking tours, interviews, photography and sketching.

Imagining the Renaissance City

Faculty: Jane Tylus
Course location: NYU Florence

Northern and central Italy’s bustling towns inspired many of today’s modern cities and also pioneered recognizably modern artistic, cultural, and engineering practices. Florence was a powerhouse of culture and industry and Siena the ‘Wall Street of Europe’ with the skyline to match.

Students spend three weeks getting to know these towns intimately. Explore downtown Florence, Siena, and the Tuscan countryside. Walk from the town of Fiesole (with its Etruscan ruins and Roman theater), to Monte Ceceri (from whose summit a student of Leonardo da Vinci’s tried to fly; good start, sad ending). Visit seats of government and Renaissance orphanages, climb towers for bird’s-eye views, prowl a crypt recently excavated under Siena’s cathedral, visit churches on hills overlooking Florence and the cells of monks, and walk the trail of the stonecutters to see where Michelangelo found his stone.

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Coastal Urbanization

Faculty: John Burt
Course location: Sydney

Over 80 percent of the Australian population lives within 100 kilometers of a coast and virtually all major Australian cities occur on coastlines. As a result, Australia’s coastal environments have been substantially modified to suit human needs.

Using Sydney’s terrestrial, marine, and built environments as a natural laboratory for field research, students collect environmental data throughout the city and use geographic information systems (GIS) to examine the spatial patterns of human impacts to Sydney’s environment and compare their results with patterns observed in other coastal cities.

Prague

Faculty: Professor Michael Beckerman
Course location: Prague

Prague should have been destroyed during the Second World War, like other major cities in Europe, but somehow it wasn’t. Its remarkable survival allows us to explore Central European history and culture in the context of a completely preserved inner urban core dating back to the Middle Ages.

Class time includes walking tours around Prague, trips to museums, castles, theaters, classical concerts including Mozart’s Magic Flute and Janacek’s From the House of the Dead, and several excursions outside the city to the Eastern Province of Moravia, birthplace of Mahler and Freud, and to the UNESCO Heritage site of Cesky Krumlov.

Democracy and its Critics

Faculty: Philip Mitsis
Course location: Abu Dhabi / Athens

An examination of one of history’s most radical and influential democracies, ancient Athens.

Students assume historical roles in key decision-making institutions and debate questions about democratic procedures, the extension of voting rights, religion and free speech, foreign policy, etc., often in the very locations where these ancient debates occurred.

The Idea of the Portrait

Faculty: Shamoon Zamir
Course location: London

The course draws upon the rich resources of London’s museums and galleries to examine a wide range of portraits and self-portraits in painting and photography from different periods of history and from different cultures.

Students visit The National Gallery, British Museum, Tate Modern, Tate Britain, the Queen’s Collection, the Courtauld Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Victoria & Albert Museum, as well as the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

Creative Cities

Faculty: Arlene Davila
Course location: Buenos Aires

Latin America has been undergoing rapid urbanization and is increasingly recognized as a continent made up of “countries of cities,” yet the dominant Latin American image has been on indigenous or traditional communities, which are always imagined as rural and authentic, rather than modern and urbanized.

Buenos Aires provides an urban laboratory to explore culture in urban development, urban tourism, and the marketing and internationalization of tango. Guided tours and guest speakers enrich students’ appreciation of contemporary Buenos Aires.

Original post by Andy Gregory, NYUAD Public Affairs, available here.

NYU Abu Dhabi Student Studying in Florence Explores Image-Making in the Age of Social Media

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About the Exhibition

In December, 2016, #florence” opened at NYU Florence. #florence” is a video installation by Harshini J. Karunaratne that examines images posted to Instagram that are hashtagged ‘Florence’. Hundreds of images of Florence are posted everyday on Instagram alone, and thousands of hashtags along with them. The use of the hashtag, indicated by a word following the ‘#’ symbol, was intended to group posts together in order to easily locate specific content. However, hashtags are often generic, limiting, or simply do not provide any sense of context to the image.

This installation detaches the hashtags from their images in order to examine the words associated with the city. What image of the city is evoked from #s alone? How do #s enrich or devalue the city? The installation also composites photographs of the city taken by the artist in order to reflect on the value of image making at a time when similar kinds of images are easily created, shared and consumed.

About the Artist

NYU Florence student Harshini J. Karunaratne is a Sri Lankan-Peruvian pursuing Film & New Media and Theater at New York University Abu Dhabi. Her background is initially in photography, having began photographing sports in 2010 before using the camera to document the vibrancy of her home country, Sri Lanka. Her later photographic work has been been centered on the importance of places and spaces in relationship to the self. Currently, Harshini´s primary focus is in using technology to bridge the gap between film and theater. Aside from film work, her interests include performance art, projection mapping, video installations, VJing, and creating audio-visual work. In November 2015, Harshini performed ´Existential´ at NYU Abu Dhabi, a projection mapping-based live performance that explored what it means to be from two different places and how perceptions of the ´self´ are influenced by the ´other´. It was based on the idea of being ´interrogated´ with questions that seem simple by nature, but have complicated answers. Harshini has previously interned for the Akkasah Center for Photography and is presently working with the newly founded Dhakira Heritage Center based in Abu Dhabi.

NYU Florence Hosted Anita Raja, Likely Identified as Famous Author Elena Ferrante, in 2015

ferrante-booksThe literary world was taken by storm in early October, when an Italian journalist “identified” the writer behind the highly successful Italian author Elena Ferrante. Elena Ferrante is a pseudonym and her identity has been a source of great speculation, especially as her books have become international sensations.

The woman identified as Ms. Ferrante, Italian translator Anita Raja, gave a talk at NYU Florence last year. A photo from that talk was used by the New York Times in the paper’s story.

Anita Raja speaking at NYU Florence

Anita Raja speaking at NYU Florence

Anita Raja was invited to NYU Florence by Italian Studies Professor Rebecca Falkoff, who had earlier published an essay in which she stated she was convinced that Raja is Ferrante. Raja was invited as part of the Graduate Lecture Series at NYU Florence. Raja’s talk was focused on her work as a translator.