Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Sicily Journal II: Catania After Dark

Watercolor by Hallie Cohen
Terme Achilliano, the Roman baths, still exist under the magnificent Baroque Church in Catania’s Piazza Duomo with its famous elephant fountain. The contradiction between religiosity and sensuality (and a religiosity  that is often sensual) is epitomized in the fact that the foundation of the famous Sicilian church is a monument to sensuality. Only a few steps away from the Duomo is the Palazzo di Cultura where the show of provocative nudes by an artist named Maria Tripoli recently catalyzed a panel discussion on stalking, as church bells chimed in the distance. It should be mentioned the contradictions inherent in the Catanian sensibility, rooted as it is in paganism and Christianity are further underlined by the fact that the Palazzo formerly housed a convent and still retains arches and other elements associated with the structure's previous occupants. A retrospective of the work of an Italian painter named Alberto Abate, who died this past spring, “Dialoguo con la Testa,” (dealing with questions of sexual identity in works like “Il Monte de Venus”) was also on view and not far away on the Piazza Universita, members of the Teatro Stabile were raising a banner which read “Noi non siamo primi o secondo ad altro teatros siamo una teatro da cuore Siciliano.” We are not first or second to other theaters, we are a theater of the Sicilian heart. Though the renowned Sicilian playwright Luigi Pirandello is not the inspiration for the Teatro’s work, the great Sicilian dramatist  Giovanni Verga apparently is according to one of the participants preparing for an outdoor performance. Like religion and sensuality, antique beauty and squalor are also at war in this port city where there are streets named after Etna and the volcano itself is visible like a mirage from hotel windows. 

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