Rome, Cinema and Public Space
From the first half of the 19th century up to the arrival of televisions in every house cinema venues were flourishing in Italy. The warm weather and the local cultural asset helped the development of many temporary open-air cinemas. Legal and often supported by the church and the governments these temporary activities in the public space were acting as powerful motor for social interactions.
During the 1950s several Italian film directors used areas of Rome as a stage for their films. Filming on location using real people brought on issues connected to everyday life and life conditions of Italy after the WWII.
This series of photographs is looking at the different roles that cinema played in the Italian capital, and their relationship with the pubic space. After a first part of the work and research dedicated at mapping spaces that hosted open air cinemas and spaces that were creating a visual link with specific films and documentaries,
I decided to respond to the various roles that the film theatres played in Rome with a series of temporary interventions/installations.
Still from The Capture of Rome Filoteo Alberini, 1905
from the series Fictions, Rome, 2014
" The starting point for me was learning about the formidable role that cinema played in Italy. I decided to use the closing sequence of the film La Presa di Roma (1905) as the opening image.
The public projection of this movie was held at Porta Pia in 1905 on the exact spot where 25 years earlier the famous ‘Breccia’ led to the birth of Italy as a unified modern nation-state. The film was a reconstruction of the events that took place in 1870 and was framed as a celebration of national unity. I imagined the screen used in 1905 to be like a thin membrane, almost transparent, simultaneously dividing and unifying the public in front of it, the events happening in the film itself and the space where it was projected.
Reality and fiction were starting a journey, which continued throughout the 20th Century from the propaganda of the newsreels to Neorealist cinema where again the city and its inhabitants, the public, were both on the screen and in front of it. I am fascinated by the relationship between the spectacle and the spectator. I like to imagine it as a series of circular paths crossing each other where the figures projected and the audience continue to exchange places, values, ideas and ways of behaving, almost becoming simulacra themselves.''
Notes on Italian cinema venues
Appunti sulle sale da cinema in Italia
This small zine, waiting to be published was created in conversation with ICA a research project on cinema going in 1950s Italy and is as part of a wider and ongoing research project on cinema venues in Italy: the roles they played, the relation with the general public and space. Notes, interviews and archival materials are interposed with a series of photographs created at the British School at Rome in the winter 2014.
Some of the work in Rome was realised by creating a temporary installation to reconnect selected public spaces with the role they played as open-air cinemas, suggesting the presence of screens, fences and shelters.