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NYU Students and Faculty from Florence and New York Brief European Parliament on Race, Racism, and Xenophobia

NYU students and faculty preparing just before the conference in the European Parliament.

9 November, 2017 was not a typical day for the European Parliament. That day, the Parliament’s Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup hosted NYU’s third conference on Race, Racism, and Xenophobia in a Global Context. Members of Parliament and the public heard from NYU faculty and students considering these issues through scholarly discussion and artistic expression.

This conference grew out of NYU’s unique willingness to allow students to grapple with the complicated issues they confront when studying away. The first conference, structured as an All-Campus Teach-In at NYU Florence on March 24, 2016, was developed by a student committee convened by NYU Florence Director Ellyn Toscano. As students observed the ongoing debate about “European identity” and migration, racism and Islamophobia, and as they also saw increasingly public racial violence in the US and student protests in response, they wanted to consider theses issues in a meaningful and informative way.

As the planning for the conference evolved, Ellyn explained the premise became that “the scope of this discussion on racism and intolerance be transnational and comparative. Racism must be understood as it operates in different historical and geographical contexts, reflecting local tensions and prejudices and intersecting with other important issues of class, gender, religion, nationality, marginality, citizenship, globalization and globalization.” The questions posed for the first conference included:

How does racism and discrimination operate in different geographical contexts, reflecting local tensions and prejudices and intersecting with issues of nationality, class, gender, religion, marginality, citizenship, and globalization? How does location affect the way in which we think about the social constructions of race and race relations? What role do historical experiences of slavery, discrimination and colonialism play? How does the current migration crisis in Europe and mounting Islamophobia help us better understand the similarities and differences between the U.S. and Europe?

Excited or Nervous? Students arriving at the European Parliament.

Asking those questions lead to a continuing dialogue and a second conference in New York on October 28, 2016. A diverse group of students has been involved in all three conferences, starting as freshman and sophomores in Florence, they presented and performed in Brussels as juniors and seniors. The students introduced and moderated conference panels in addition to providing live performances – song, poetry, monologue. A short student film was also shown. With faculty from both New York and Florence present, it was, according to NYU’s Senior Vice President for University Relations and Public Affairs Lynne Brown, a “unique opportunity to showcase students and faculty” which is at the core of NYU’s mission.

A number of NYU faculty have also been involved in all three conferences, including members of the faculty committee Deb Willis and Dipti Desai, Awam Amkpa, Jason King, Pamela Newkirk, Paulette Caldwell, and Ann Morning. NYU Florence faculty included Deborah Spini and Alessandra Di Maio. In opening the conference, NYU Steinhardt Professor Dipti Desai noted that the motivation for all participating is furthering the conversations necessary to create “a world that is more just and equal.”

MEP Kyenge and NYU open the conference.

Italian Member of the European Parliament Cécile Kyenge participated in the first Race, Racism, and Xenophobia conference in Florence and the second in New York. A member of the Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup, Ms. Kyenge was so impressed that she invited NYU to organize a conference for the European Parliament and the public in Brussels. During her opening remarks on November 9, Ms. Kyenge praised NYU’s interdisciplinary efforts, noting that the university does not “stop at scholarly discussion, but also takes a creative approach.”

That is in part what the students found inspiring. Helen You, a CAS senior who has participated in all three conferences, described the vibrancy of the event. “As someone who is both an IR major and potentially going to law school, but who danced and played music throughout my life, I really appreciate just how diverse we have made this conversation. I mean, we have everyone from the Law School to Tisch siting in this room to talk about issues that span across all departments and that is just amazing.” She and other students expressed their gratitude for the professors and administrators helped to make the conferences happen. Helen also especially thanked NYU Florence Director Ellyn Toscano on behalf of the students, saying, “So often, students have a passion and an idea in their heads, but they don’t have the opportunity to explore it and create something meaningful. You gave us the confidence and the voice to share our stories and make this conference a platform for change and we never thought that something like this could happen. Thank you so much for everything you have done for us and your support.”

The students with MEP Kyenge.

The conference was well-received in Brussels, with Parliamentarians and other participants very engaged. Even if you missed the opportunity to participate in Brussels, New York, or Florence, this is not the end of these conversations at NYU. According to student participant Eilish Anderson, “I sincerely hope that we were able to inspire the people watching the conference to take action in fighting against hate in the world, particularly through policy change. Even after the third edition of this conference, it’s still just the beginning. Where will we go next?”

The conference program is available here.
A live stream video of the Brussels conference is available here.

NYU Florence Professor Gallo Appointed to Italy’s Court of Auditors

On October 3, 2017, Professor Giampiero M. Gallo was appointed to the Italian Corte dei Conti by the President of the Republic, following a proposal by the Prime Minister. This Court of Auditors is a constitutional body supervising public expenditure both ex ante and ex post. Professor Gallo will join the Regional Budgetary Control Committee in Milan to supervise regional laws and report on yearly budgets from both the regional and the municipal administrations. He will be applying econometric methods to estimate effectiveness and efficacy benchmarks of public spending to evaluate individual administration performances.  As the new position as a Judge is incompatible with other forms of public employment, he will resign from his position at a local university. Professor Gallo will continue conducting research and and will continue to teach at NYU Florence.

NYU Florence Live Streaming Inside American Politics Conference

On October 19-20 NYU Florence will host its annual​ ‘Inside American Politics’ conference. The conference brings together top American political​ experts and insiders, both Republican and Democrat​,​ and media ​experts ​for a discussion of the current situation in American politics. It is always an informative and lively gathering. This year it will also be live streamed and NYU students around the world, along with the public, can participate.

This year’s speakers include: Jonathan Capehart, Journalist, Editorial Board Member The Washington PostRon Christie, Republican political analyst, veteran senior advisor to the White House and Congress, founder and CEO Christie Strategies LLC; Rob Collins Republican political strategist; Todd Harris, Media and Communications Strategist for Senator Marco Rubio and other top Republican elected officials; Steve McMahon, Democratic Strategist, co-founder and CEO of Purple Strategies, LLC, and Adjunct Professor at NYU Washington D.C.; John Anzalone, President at Anzalone Liszt Research; Elise Jordan, ​Writer and political commentator; Doug Thornell, Managing Director ​ at ​Public Affairs Firm ​SKDKnickerbocker; Jay Newton Small​, Journalist, Time magazine.

The conference live streaming is available here. Join!

NYU Florence Hosts Journalist Discus North Korea

On September 20, NYU Florence will host Imma Vitelli, an international correspondent with Vanity Fair Italy. She recently spent time in North Korea and will share her experiences. She will also host a journalism workshop on September 21-22 for NYU students. The workshop will consider questions such as: How do you report in a totalitarian state with three government minders, two “guides” and a photographer who takes photos of you taking photos of North Korea? How do you come up with a story in a country where you have no freedom at all? Ms. Vitelli will teach what to do, what to avoid and how to see what the state will rather hide.

“Last May, I spent ten days in North Korea, and it was by far the most bizarre experience I have ever had. The idea was to report on the elites supporting the paranoid regime of President Kim Jong-un. We saw champagne flowing in spite of sanctions and children singing the glory of the nuclear program. We dined on a yacht by the river in Pyongyang and felt like we were in a lost galaxy, or in East Berlin, in the 1960s.”

– Imma Vitelli

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.