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What is Contemporary Sicily?
Contemporary Sicily is a research and event project of visual arts, music, and culture aimed to introduce the New York audience to the multi-faceted culture and history of Sicily and to provide reference material for visitors and scholars.
Subjects range from visual arts and jazz to publishing, photography, North African and Albanian influences and Jewish-Sicilian traditions. The works and performances presented under the umbrella of Contemporary Sicily focus on artists who operate within the contemporary Sicilian art scene. They maintain deep links to traditional and local forms of expression while demonstrating an attentive sensibility for international tendencies to which they refer both stylistically and in their choice of themes.
Programming and collaborations
Past programming has includes lectures, panel discussions and other educational events, held in collaboration with Sicilian and New York partners, including the Italian Cultural Institute, The Cultural Council of the City of Palermo, Cantieri Culturali alla Zisa, The The New School University, The Italian American Writers Association, Barnes & Noble, the Centro Culturale Primo Levi in North America, The Next Stage, Brooklyn College, the Brooklyn Center for Performing Arts, and the Angel Orensanz Foundation, The Vera List Center for Art and Politics, Tulane University, and University of Wisconsin.
Selected past events
Presented by an essay of Robert Viscusi
Sciacca master of portraiture Franco Accursio Gulino has worked for three decades to define his post-expressionist approach to the representation of the human soul and psychological characters. His imagery combines an extraordinary knowledge of Renaissance and medieval techniques with a grotesque sarcasm, drawn from the Sicilian popular iconography and deeply linked to the painting tradition of the 20th century.
Toyland is the continuation of a previous work by Sicilian multi-media artist Andrea Cusumano called The Installation of the Dead (Los Angeles, 1996). It is conceived as an imaginary representation of the Sicilian epics of “pupi" (or puppets) in the tradition of Pirandello, Vittorini, Sciascia, Guttuso, Tomasi and Bufalino, that makes Sicily a theater of the world and the human experience.
Mr. Gebbia, 40, has received extensive international attention. In a New York Times review of his appearance at the Victoriaville Festival in Canada, Ben Ratliff described him as “a nimble, melodic, player, and his set was equivalent to the thrill of seeing excellent draftsmanship in a post-modern painting.” Mr. Gebbia's collaborations include work with Pina Bausch and the Japanese butoh dancers Tadashi Endo and Masaki Iwana.
An Oration upon the Most Recent Death of Christopher Columbus
Words and music written and performed by Robert Viscusi
Epic poets sing of peoples, wars, and gods. In An Oration upon the Most Recent Death of Christopher Columbus, Viscusi sings of the Italian immigrants who marched behind Columbus, as well as the struggles of indigenous peoples and Africans who were swept into the vortex of New World imperial development. In this poem, Columbus the god leaves eternity and enters history.
Jazz: Palermo-New Orleans, New Orleans-Palermo
A research project curated by Guido Festinese
Since the twenties, American jazz has enchanted the island of Sicily, and Sicilian musicians have traveled to New Orleans and other U.S. cities to become part of the scene. Musicians Pete Rugolo, Nick La Rocca, Lennie Tristano, Tony Scott and George Wallington, have invigorated a new generation of musicians back home in the Mediterranean island. In this exciting evening of free-form jazz, acclaimed saxophonist Gianni Gebbia and pianist Salvatore Bonafede, show how far the Sicilian tradition has moved from its beginnings in New Orleans Dixieland.
Sicilian Jazz: What language are they speaking?
A forum follows organized with The Next Stage, New York.
Panelists: Bruce Boyd Raeburn, curator of the Hogan Jazz Archive, Mike Longo, former pianist and music director for Dizzy Gillespie, and Gianni Gebbia, saxophonist and coordinator of the music program Palermo di Scena.
The Photographer and the publisher
Looking at the history of publishing as an important record and indicator of cultural, intellectual, and political trends, Contemporary Sicily dedicated a special presentation to the extraordinary book collection on Sicily and Sicilian authors published by Elvira and Enzo Sellerio. Topics of the collection include popular literature, minor writings of major writers, women's history, popular religion, archeology, politics, and social issues.
A special feature of the program is the art-book series created by Enzo Sellerio through years spent collecting and photographing Sicilian treasures and shuffling through Palermo's old markets, historic archives, libraries, and evanescent homes.
For a History of Sicilian Jews
Reading and slide show by Antonio di Gesù
in collaboration with the Centro Culturale Primo Levi in North America
The first known Jewish settlement in Sicily is said to have arrived direclty from Israel during the period of the Second Temple. Under the pressure of the Inquisition and in spite of great resistance on the part of local authorities and people, Sicilian Jews were expelled in 1493 and the ones who decided to remain in the island were forced into conversion.
The legend goes that some went to Turkey, some to North Africa and some headed to the New World. Today, Jews number approximately 30, and they are scattered throughout the island. Despite their low numbers they manage to come together for the High Holidays and other community events. This slide presentation offers a virtual journey through the Jewish sites of Sicily.