Rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.
Monday, January 16, 2017
Rome Journal: Pigneto, The Writing on the Wall
photograph of Maupal mural by Hallie Cohen
The Via Fanfulla da Lodi lies in Pigneto, a once
impoverished neighborhood on the Southeast outskirts of Rome which has now
become gentrified. Street art and graffiti
don’t just adorn the walls. They cry out, representing less a form of desecration than a need to speak. There's an urgency to these
inscriptions which can include the face of a transvestite or that of the famed
Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini whose portrait with it’s “mo sto bene”
tee shirt adorns the terrace of the Café Necci, an institution in the
neighborhood. Pasolini himself was attracted to the underlife of Rome and it
was here that he both caroused and gave birth to his classic Accattone(1961) whose milieu
is the world of petty criminals and thieves (there’s a wall of photos of
Pasolini shootingAccattone on the Café Necci’s walls). If you walk down to
number 43 you will come to a modest B&B. When you gaze up at the side of the
building, you are caught up short by a portrait of Pasolini’s right eye replete
with crow’s feet. In Wanted in Rome,2/3/16, Martin Bennett quotes the director thusly, “The eye alone is aware of
beauty.” The streets of the neighborhood are narrow and not conducive to
looking upsay the way you would at a
billboard in Times Square.And what's distinctive about the mural, by the artist Maupal, is that it gives the
impression of having captured you before you see it. Pasolini’s eye is that of
the voyeur looking at his subjects before they’ve even had a chance to react.
Here is a Pasolini quote found on a wall on the Via del Pigneto accompanying yet
another mural: “non illuderti; la passion non ottiene mai perdono Non ti
perdano neanch’io, che vivo di passion,” “Don’t fool yourself the passion never
gets lost for those who live the passion.”
Francis Levy's debut novel, Erotomania: A Romance, was released in August 2008 by Two Dollar Radio.
His short stories, criticism, humor, and poetry have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, The Village Voice, The East Hampton Star, The Quarterly, Penthouse, Architectural Digest, TV Guide, The Journal of Irreproducible Results, and other publications. One of his Voice humor pieces was anthologized in The Big Book of New American Humor (HarperCollins). He is presently the Co-Director of The Philoctetes Center for the Multidisciplinary Study of Imagination (philoctetes.org), where he supervises roundtable discussions on topics as varied as “The Psychology of the Modern Nation State” and “Modern Traffic Theory, Behavior, and Imagination”.