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THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2019 www.italoamericano.org L'Italo-Americano 2 C arnevale, in Italy, is not only known for its historical masks and colorful parades that bring fun and joy along the streets of the cities we associate the most with these pre- Lent celebrations: Venice and Verona in Veneto, Viareggio in Tuscany, Cento in Emilia- Romagna, Sciacca and Acireale in Sicily, Tempio Pausania and Mamoiada in Sardinia, Satriano in Basilicata, Fano in Marche, Putignano and Massafra in Puglia, Striano in Campania, Milan with its Ambrosian Carnevale in Lombardy, Ivrea with its historic battle of oranges in Piedmont. Under a rain of confetti, here they come, the allegorical floats and the colorful world of papier-mâché, a polymateric art of ancient origin that the Greeks already practiced in the IV century BC using linen fibers. Using putty and color, they would give life to theatre and to those hanged for apotropaic purposes on tree branches in sacred woods. Approaching an Italian Carnevale means, therefore, discovering a centuries-old history rich in rituals, stories, satire and folk tales. It means finding a piece of Italian culture made of objects, such as masks and allegorical floats, and a very refined art made of extremely poor, recycled materials such as papier-mâché. The art of mask and float making is a workshop art, passed down from generation to generation, with techniques jealously guarded by papier-mâché masters who, driven by creativity, ingenuity and passion, know how to bring together irony and mockery to transform them into wonderful giants that, once mounted on floats, truly come to life. As high as 20 meters, they turn into moving works of art populated with masked figures moved by mechanisms that make them spin, float and swing, over astonished crowds admiring them from the street. A powerful enactment, that requires months and months of work to transform sketches into complex artifacts, designed to stimulate popular reflection on the evils afflicting society (racism, pollution, consumerism, violence, war) or to point the finger against the rich and powerful, a true embodiment of the very reason Carnevale was born. To do it, we use allegory, a device of rhetoric, the art of speech, the Allegory and papier mâché masters: the ancient art of Italian Carnevale From the director lively discipline of persuading with words. With allegory, concepts are represented concretely, as people, animals or things. In practice, a concept or a fact is expressed using symbols and images that refer to a reality different from that expressed literally. With allegory, real meaning does not transpire in an intuitive and immediate way: it needs to be understood and interpreted. But this "reading between the lines," this implying something that is not explicitly said, means that one can point the finger at someone or something, without openly criticizing them. In the Divine Comedy, for example, the immense Dante Alighieri gets lost in the selva oscura where he meets the fiere (the beasts). Here, we are standing in front of allegories: the selva oscura, a dark forest, represents sin, in which every man can get lost. Then there is the lion, that represents violence and pride, the she-wolf, symbol of avarice and greed, and the lonza (presumably a lynx), embodiment of lust. Allegory was particularly employed in the Middle Ages, and it was also used in the figurative arts, from painting to sculpture. In the Spring by Sandro Botticelli, for example, the woman portrayed symbolizes the season. If every mask of the Italian Carnevale found its characterization and canonization in the Commedia dell'Arte - and it is no coincidence that the Venetian Goldoni was a master of this genre, largely based on improvisation rather than written texts - the allegorical float, although coming later, has a similar fundamental historical and artistic value. Chiefly, because it comes from ancient wisdom, from a decidedly popular tradition of craftsmanship. Because if only the rich's commissions could afford bronze or marble statues, common people could certainly afford plaster, straw, rags and other poor materials to make statues of saints and triumphal floats for religious celebrations. The art of papier-mâché, an excellence of Italian culture, has been penalized in the past because of the many prejudices associated with its raw materials, considered lowly and thus unsuitable for the production of works of art. But that paper pulp which, macerated in water and flour glue first, then mixed with animal glue and plaster, turns into a thick paste that can be shaped and, once dried, colored and decorated, is anything but a material unworthy of art. It is the symbol of the noble and refined art of cartapestai masters, generations of artisans and families who have been supporting this extraordinary art made of love and respect for their land, of secular culture and manual work. And, let's not forget it, it also contains the sophisticated ability to mock the powerful through funny representations and funny allegories. Simone Schiavinato, Director NEWS & FEATURES TOP STORIES PEOPLE EVENTS

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