Friday, 28 January 2011


There are some days when everything goes wrong.

It starts with one event, and then the chain of bad luck follows, like it was called by some sort of jinx sorority. But, there also are days when exactly the opposite happens.

First, it started with a dear friend of mine giving me a great news: he has a girlfriend. Actually, he did pronounce the word "engaged", but didn't exactly tie the knot since they've been going out for just a couple of weeks...and been knowing each other since childhood. I was so happy for him. After five or so years of being single, spent trying to forget the only girl who broke his heart, who's now happily married and with child, he merrily tells me that he has fallen in love again. 
I kept on telling him, it will eventually come to you one day if you only stopped is always unexpected.

Secondly, in the afternoon I had one of those experiences that throw you back in...well...sixteen years' time in the space of a second. A famous pop star popped in my workplace.
One of those people you worshipped when you were sixteen and, despite this made you the joke of your male friends and the desperation of your parents, you still remember the times spent singing the songs over and over and hopelessly waiting outside an hotel with your mates as really good fun. 
Not "the best times of your life", no...those would have come later.
I remember the frustration, though. That of spending so much time trying to see a person in a context that wasn't a gig without actually succeeding. You know, closer look, not just the miniature, big screen or TV version. Well, yesterday, without any advance notice, he was right in front of me.

At the beginning I thought OK, I can handle this (after having pinched hard my poor colleague's leg as soon as he stepped in). Couldn't really control heartbeats, sweating hands and - hopefully unnoticed - rash reactions, though. Damn, I thought I was a mature grown-up woman, but at that very moment I was back a teenager every inch.

"I am just having a look around." He said. 
And I replied with something very intelligent like: "Er...sure."

The result: my colleague maintains that I scared him off and he is never coming back. Just because I collapsed on the floor behind the counter when he left (pathetic, I know) and she claims that he saw me (no, he didn't). Despite losing the dignity, this banal event put a smile on my face: eventually, things come to those who can wait.

Precisely, there it arrived an email at the end of the day:
"Your exhibition proposal has been accepted." 

A curator friend of mine once quoted a passage from "By Nightfall", a novel by Michael Cunningham. 
It was a conversation between someone who wanted to become a curator and someone else, who compared the choice to that of wanting to become a movie star: obviously very few succeed.
True, but some do succeed the first character replied.
Well, that "yes" was coming from a Museum I worship and, if I have to draw parallelisms between curatorial and cinematographic careers, this would definitely be compared to being the leading actress in a Fellini movie.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

The Eighth Labours of Hercules

Imagine you are writing a text for a catalogue, something of academic nature, developing one aspect of a potential show.

Imagine the selection of the books to prepare your dissertation, starting with database research and meticulous investigation of the footnotes, to find further references.

Imagine a thorough reading of all the sources, including books you never dreamed of approaching like Hal Foster, The Return of the Real. Fabulous, but your brain asked for mercy and your neurones went to the gym to potentiate their evidently weak connections. You still are not sure about what you've actually read.

Imagine to sit in front of the computer, staring at the screen, because the paragraphs you took two days to organise don't really make any sense and you know that.

Imagine to continue reading the books over and over again, desperately trying to find the connections you are seeking.

Imagine to finish writing at 10 pm of the night before Consignment Day: your eyes are as big as a satellite dish and the curve of your back has increased of at least another couple of inches.

Now, imagine to do all of this in another language.

> Washing the Christmas tablecloth at the end of January? Curator's Stuff

Friday, 7 January 2011


Conversation in Rome:

A: "Look at you! You definitely are well!"
sy: "Ah, thanks. By the way, I brought something from London: scones! We can have them with mascarpone and marmalade because I had to leave the clotted cream behind..."
A: "Oh, you're so English."

Conversation in London:

B: "Are you having another beer?"
sy: "No thanks, I am fine."
B: "Oh, you're so European."

First of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR! 

To be totally honest with you, I would rather have nailed myself to the old one and let it linger, just a little bit more. I really enjoyed the past year, for which I didn't have great expectations and instead it turned out to be very productive, therefore I am welcoming the new one with a bit of wariness.
But it's just a sensation and will dissipate very quickly, as the division of time in years is just a notion: to comfort myself, I have started to think about time as a continued, uninterrupted flow.
It's up to us to make this new year work, not the stars or the planets' conjunction.

The year 2010 ended accompanied by many sensations.
The ones discussed in the reported conversations, for example. The labels that make you feel an in-betweener. You go home and everyone sees you as very English (??), whereas when you come back to your new home, where you started to feel even more comfortable (!!), here it comes this sort of disillusion. The result is a question: where do you belong now, exactly?
Deep down, you know of course. Then why do you feel so strange, even physically, in your hometown?

About last post and all my purposes, I did respect many: I went around a lot, saw friends and family, wore short sleeved garments which left everyone astonished.

C: "Oh my God, aren't you cold?"
sy: "My dear, it's minus one in London! Here it's 18 degrees!"
C: "You've become so..."
sy: "English, I know. In fact, it's called acclimatization."

The first days were accompanied by too much food and a persistent feeling of dizziness, nausea almost. I blamed it on the fact that the air must be much less polluted in Rome, but as you may imagine such symptoms bring up other kind of speculations, like pregnancy. Smile politely and let your interlocutor know that no, you're taking it easy. Same sentence as last year, of course.

After all of this is gone, you lapse yourself into family and friends cuddles, the true thing that makes you feel home once again. Some of them still ask you what is it that you miss the most. Well, after five minutes thinking, the answer is: definitely this, but unfortunately it's not unbearable anymore.
Not quite, at least.

I will leave you now with some pictures of places. Not the charming alleys of Rome that I so much wanted to visit again (and I did, avoiding the already mentioned traffic jam this time!), but other kind of places with their dense atmosphere.
Places where people come and go, sit comfortably for a while, share life, experiences, leave and come back the day after, or the year after.

Caffe' Necci, Rome

Caffe' Terzi, Bologna

Trattoria Anna Maria, Bologna: all frames contain greetings by very happy clients. No surprise: amazing tortellini.

Trastevere, Rome: please notice the blackboard next to the entrance.

Book store in Trastevere, Rome: I see Jamie Oliver has reached us

Very old Restaurant in Piazza Campo de' Fiori, Rome

I have stolen this last two pictures on a very crowded underground in Rome.
I had to act quickly, and pretend I was just browsing the images on my camera.