L'Italo-Americano

italoamericano-digital-2-18-2021

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THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2021 www.italoamericano.org L'Italo-Americano 2 T h e w a y o f s o c i a l i z i n g and being together typi- cal of Carnevale, and of all other moments of c o n v i v i a l i t y a n d lightheartedness is, of course, rather inappropriate for the times that, with much difficulty, we've been experiencing and living through. In I t a l y — w h e r e w o r r i e s a b o u t t h e many variants of the virus have been increasing — all public celebrations o f C a r n e v a l e h a v e b e e n r i g h t l y a n n u l l e d o r p o s t p o n e d . S t i l l , i t ' s important we talk about it, but why? Let's forget about the irreverence and the playful nature of Carnevale for a moment, and let's focus on its cultural facets. In it, we don't only find childhood memories, jolly moments of soul soothing revelry, but also bits of shared sociality that make the history of our communities. We find villages and cities where children walk around the streets dressed up in bright costumes — princesses and knights, fairies and super heroes — and schools organize Carnevale merende; where, for days, our pavements are covered with tiny colorful dots, kids running around with their little hands filled with confetti. Carnevale, though, is also synonym with many profes- sions, many artistic realities and craftsmanships, all revol- ving around it. Perhaps, all that lies behind costumes and streamers, behind allegorical floats or the charming masks and rich, decadent brocade and velvet dresses of a Venetian Carnevale — folklore, tradition, manual skills and aesthetic taste — doesn't come to mind immediately. Carnevale is history in a costume, it offers an essential view of the way the country lives and socializes, but it is The Italianness hiding behind Carnevale's masks From the Editor also an opportunity to showcase the extraordinary skills at work in the creation of traditional folkloristic parades. From the papier maché's masters who create the majestic moving structures we use to pull fun at the rich and power- ful, to the lace makers who embellish with their works dres- ses and corsets worn often in the icy temperatures, typical of this time of the year; from the make up artists who manage to create true masterpieces by simply mixing pig- ments on people's faces, to the mascareri, professional mask makers, whose traditions goes all the way back to the 13th century, when there were already laws regulating masks' production. A float, a richly embroidered dress, a colorful mask. Perhaps because they are closely associated with Carnevale, we think of them as meaningless, but behind the finished product, especially when you think about the amount of materials used, a plethora of production realities are at work: paper and plaster, feathers, ribbons, wigs. And let's not forget about our arte di bottega, our ate- liers, made of a know-how passed on from a generation to the next, a tale of Italy's arts and crafts, the very same that created our great Made in Italy, mirror to the best of Italy's craftsmanship and its "fatto a mano" culture, true stronghold against all that is mass produced, uniformed, industrialized, anonymous. If imagining the sartorial abili- ties of those producing sumptuous Renaissance gowns and voluptuous, royal-like hats is easy, it may be harder to understand the art of mask-making. Making one single mask involves a series of procedures, from the visual deve- lopment of the idea, to the creation of a clay model, all the way to the pouring onto it of the liquid plaster that, once dry, becomes the mold for the mask itself. On it, papier maché is glued in layers. When they are finally dry, they are ready to be decorated. Leather masks are molded on a wooden model instead: leather is softened with water, sha- ped on the model then nailed on it, hammered and stret- ched, until it matches it perfectly. Then, it's removed from the wood, further polished, modeled and, finally, decora- ted. Hours and hours of patient, attentive work that invol- ves great craftsmanship, knowledge of all materials and aesthetic sense. We should think about it, when we say price tags are too high… And what should we say about floats, whose prepa- ration can take months and months, along with tons of paper and pounds of glue and paint? Ingredients are sim- ple, easy to find and cheap, but making those sculptures takes a lot of work, time and a lot of skills. From simple paper and glue, craftsmen create exaggerated bodies and grotesque faces, ironic masks and fanciful puppets. And if they are sculptors, then comes the turn of carpenters, elec- tricians, mechanics, who complete the work, giving move- ment and light to these giants, able to reach even 15 meters in height. Last, we shouldn't forget what's behind each and every mask of the Italian Carnevale: the Commedia dell'Arte. Arlecchino, Pulcinella, Balanzone or Colombina, they are all a piece of our theater history: most of our "maschere" became, between "frizzi e lazzi"— that is, between witty puns, ingenuity, clever portraits and benevolent mockery, the spirit itself of Carnevale — literary characters on stage. Characters who, since the 16th century, tell us about the Italy of people, about the adventures and vicissitudes that, if you look at them closely, are integrant part of our being intimately Italian. Simone Schiavinato, Editor NEWS & FEATURES TOP STORIES PEOPLE EVENTS Member of FUSIE (Federazione Unitaria Stampa Italiana all'Estero), COGITO L'Italo-Americano 610 West Foothill Blvd. Unit D, Monrovia, CA 91016 - Tel.: (626) 359-7715 PLEASE SEND CORRESPONDENCE TO P.O. BOX 6528, ALTADENA, CA 91003 www.italoamericano.org L'Italo-Americano Newspaper (a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization), www.italoamericano.org, is the largest and longest-running Italian newspaper in America, not to mention the cultural and news resource for all things Italian in the US. A bilingual newspaper which represents an historical landmark for the Italian American Communities in the West Coast and throughout the US. L'Italo-Americano benefits from subsidies by the Italian Government, Memberships and Donations intended to support and not interrupt a mission that began in 1908 to preserve and promote the Italian language and culture in the USA Periodicals postage paid at Monrovia, California 91016, and additional mailing offices. PUBLISHER Robert Barbera Grande Ufficiale EDITOR IN CHIEF Simone Schiavinato ADMINISTRATIVE MANAGER Patrick Abbate EDITORIAL COORDINATOR Barbara Minafra COPY EDITOR Francesca Bezzone LOS ANGELES CONTRIBUTOR Silvia Giudici SAN FRANCISCO CONTRIBUTORS Catherine Accardi Serena Perfetto SEATTLE CONTRIBUTOR Rita Cipalla CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Mariella Radaelli, Francesca Bezzone, Luca Ferrari, Stefano Carnevali, Joel Mack, Paula Reynolds, Nicoletta Curradi, GenerosoD'Agnese, Fabrizio Del Bimbo, Maria Gloria, Alfonso Guerriero Jr., Anthony Di Renzo Serena Perfetto, Kenneth Scambray, Chiara D'Alessio © 2020 L'Italo-Americano Membership: One year $59 - Single copy $2.25 POSTMASTER: Send address changes to L'Italo Americano PO Box 6528 Altadena, CA 91003 Mail form and check to L'Italo-Americano, P.O.BOX 6528, ALTADENA, CA 91003

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