Joseph Luzzi is Associate Professor of Italian and Director of the Italian Studies Program at Bard College. He spoke in Weis Cinema of Bertelsman Campus Center on the Bard campus on August 22, 2014.
My talk will focus on how Michelangelo Antonioni explores our dialectic between "freedom and constraint" in his film Blow-Up, especially in its creative tension between the social and sexual revolution of the 1960s and the desire for "truth" and "evidence" in a world increasingly beholden to illusion and escapism. Considering both Antonioni's film and the short story that inspired it, Julio Cortázar's "The Devil's Spittle," we will discuss how Antonioni meditates on art's capacity to reveal truth about lived experience in a way that more empirical modes of investigation fail to do, especially in the film's portrayal of the transition from photographic still to cinematic narrative. Overall, our conversation will consider what I take to be an often overlooked aspect of Antonioni's films: their sense of humanism and sharp sociopolitical analysis, hidden as it were in the incredible beauty of his rarefied aesthetic forms.
Dr. Laura Rascaroli's lecture and discussion. In conversation with Dr. Giuliana Pieri.
A study day devoted to the late Michelangelo Antonioni (1912-2007) took place on Friday, 26 October,
in Egham, co-sponsored by HARC, SMLLC, Media Arts, and the Institut Français du Royaume-Uni, and co-organised by Prof. Giuliana Pieri, Eleonora Raspi (PhD candidate) and Prof. James Williams.
The centenary of the birth of this master of European modernist cinema was a chance to bring together
a number of scholars and curators who have a particular interest in the interdisciplinary aspects of
Antonioni’s oeuvre. Dr Laura Rascaroli (U. of Cork) and Dr John David Rhodes (U. of Sussex), who
edited the 2011 volume, Antonioni: Centenary Essays, offered a novel perspective on the work of
the Italian film-maker by focusing on the influence of art and architecture respectively. The two talks
were preceded by a screening of two rare Antonioni documentaries: Gente del Po (1943-7) and Lo
Sguardo di Michelangelo (2004). Documentaries are a very important but often less studied aspect of
Antonioni’s production. They also ideally frame his career since Antonioni began as a documentary
film maker and ended his cinematic career with his tribute to the master of the Italian Renaissance,
Michelangelo Buonarroti, in a short film of extreme beauty which helped the audience to reflect upon
art and tradition. The general discussion that followed covered a number of fascinating topics relating
to Antonioni’s practice, including his consistently ‘open’, physical engagement with the human figure,
as compared, for example, with that of Jean-Luc Godard.