FOCUS - May 2013
A Q&A with one of the contributors to What Matters Now? (What Can't You Hear?).
The text you wrote for our anthology is entitled Señoras. Could you say something more about the context that generated this flash of words/images/languages/lives?
Many years ago I lived in Mexico, and I developed a certain ear for the melodic and song-like way Latin women talk with one another. I keep being drawn to such inflections, and I inevitably find myself eavesdropping. Since I've been living in Milan, where a substantial community of immigrants from Central and Southern America live, I have found that the Spanish language – and in particular conversations in Spanish between women, or women speaking to other women on their mobile phones – constitutes a recurring element in the acoustic continuum of the city. If you spend time walking around Milan for a day or two, and get on public transport or walk along certain roads or enter a certain shop, you will inevitably come across two women speaking with each other in Spanish: it's as if you are turning a radio dial, and sooner or later you'll find a broadcasting frequency from Salvadorean or Columbian radio. And it is not simply about encountering another language: most of the time you'll encounter very culturally specific snippets of conversations, all of them revolving around, in a chant – family, love, betrayal, home, children, destiny. As if you were listening to a soap opera while going to work, you listen to a sentimental discourse while the rest of the world, the people who live in the same city, are absorbed by practical and pragmatic questions and absorbed in a routine of production. Two ways of being in the world, side by side.
Some of our readers will not be familiar with the very specific time in Italian history, which you present and re-compose in your blog The Italian Game. Could you give a short introduction to the blog and your choices behind it?
The Italian Game is founded on my long-standing attraction to the Italian history of the 1970's. It is some sort of semiotic trip into those years, that I construct using photographs and newspaper clippings ranging from daily news to crime updates, from terrorism to social, economic, lifestyle or technology news, such as the early ads and articles on computers. Culturally it was a very vital period that reached Shakespearean intensity in politics and culture, given the major impact of terrorism, conflicts between society and political parties, and cold war plots, on the emotional structure of the country. Those were also the years when I was born and learned to speak, write and walk, therefore this research fills me with profound feelings as it shuffles around subconscious material.
Our publishing project stems from an idea of expanded listening beyond specialist discourses, thinking of listening as a methodology that includes a myriad voices and languages. How do you inhabit listening?
As you would say in a crime novel, as I listen I try to always keep my ears open. And I try to keep my ears open to any environment and any word.