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End of June. At 8.30 o'clock I was in Piazzale Roma in Venice. Just opposite the Calatrava Bridge. A girl with a smiling face comes to meet me: it’s Helene Cooper. We had been writing each other via email over the past few months...
<b>N'EST PAS</b>Published on Sunday 5 December 2010
Renato Miracco, cultural attaché for the Italian Embassy in Washington, was my partner in crime. He told me that a friend of his would have spent a few days in Venice. Helene Cooper, dressed in a summer touristy outfit, was accompanied by three European friends who were travelling with her. She expressed a keen desire to visit a few Palladio’s villas, after the discovery of his American architectural legacy. A show recently concluded at the Morgan Library in New York (the library redesigned by Renzo Piano) focused on the transatlantic journey of Palladium and his influence on architecture in the USA. An exhibition, organized by Cisa in Vicenza and Morgan, which should help pass the US Congress' resolution to claim Palladio as the father of American architecture. Helene was filled with curiosity towards the territory. I had already been telling her via mail that the creative industry had been developed in Italy on the basis of a strong historical-artistic fabric. There are thousands of entrepreneurial inventions representing the major features of contemporary Italy. Once we left Venice, we started travelling inland towards Vicenza. It was a quick and intense tour. We went from the special opening of Palladio's roundabout at Villa ai Nani, along with the cycles of Tiepolo father and son, through the Olympic Theatre, the oldest covered theatre in the world, up to the Basilica Palladiana. We walked through all the venues. Until that moment we were still within the boundaries of a classic yet amazing Italian tour.
Veduta aerea della Casa Bianca
The gap and the wonder came later in the afternoon, with the industrial tour. Guests have been alternating two different levels of visit: on one side the hills and historic villas, on the other showrooms and cellars. Going from design pieces by Studio Jop or Marcel Wanders through Bisazza and NASA uniforms created by Dainese, from Bottega Veneta’s ladies bags to Valentino’s evening gowns. Helene told me: "I went to the White House’s Christmas dinner dressed in a red Valentino dress", in fact, she is the White House correspondent for the NYT. Those who accompanied Helene were two journalists as well: the head of the London branch of the Washington Post and the editor of the Wall Street Journal book series. They discovered a different Italy. They talked to entrepreneurs and creatives. They entered the locations of our "Made in Italy”. They ended their day with a dinner on the terrace of their eclectic friend Flavio Albanese, former Director of Domus. The group of three was amazed by the whole day. Captured. An experience they claim being "unforgettable". The Italian culture is made up of a sum of territories that must enter into a dialogue. Certainly the exchange must happen with the proper respect and the right distances, nevertheless it should take place in a contemporary and coordinated manner. It might seem like the discovery of hot water, but the process needs knowledge and cultural mediators who should be prepared and international. In short: two measures of historic-artistic culture, two of fine dining, a measures of contemporary, two drops of fashion, a spray of design. Mix. And serve without ice.

cristiano seganfreddo
director of fuoribiennale and innov(e)tion valley

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*article published on Exibart.onpaper n. 68. 

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