8 months ago
Carla Lonzi's Self-Portrait, with Allison Grimaldi Donahue and Giulia Crispiani
For this episode of rile* , books podcast we are joined by Allison Grimaldi Donahue and Giulia Crispiani to talk about the first English translation of Carla Lonzi’s book Self-Portrait which was translated by Allison herself, with editorial assistance from Giulia. The book was published by Divided Publishing in 2021.
Recorded and transcribed throughout the 1960s, Carla Lonzi’s Self-portrait ruptures the narration of post-war modern art in Italy and beyond. Artmaking struck Lonzi as an invitation to be together in a ‘humanly satisfying way’, and this experiment in art-historical writing is a testament to her belief. Lonzi abolishes the role of the critic, her own, seeking change over self-preservation by theorising against the act of theorising.
The life and work of Carla Lonzi (1931–1982) is inseparable from the cultural, political, and social history of Italy in the decades following the Second World War; she occupies a singular position, which today merits reevaluation. A reputed art critic of the 1960s artistic scene, both friend and collaborator of such figures as Carla Accardi, Luciano Fabro, Giulio Paolini, and Jannis Kounellis, she wrote “Autoportrait” in 1969, a “love letter” to the artists and to creation, but also a farewell chorus to art criticism and the art world. The following year she founded Rivolta Femminile, an active feminist collective, thus becoming the central figure of Italian feminism.
Allison Grimaldi Donahue is an American poet, writer and translator currently based in Bologna. She teaches creative writing, translation, and literature at John Cabot University in Rome and Middlebury College Florence and Rome. She is the author of BODY MINERAL (2016) and the co-author of On Endings (2019). Her writing and translations have appeared in The brooklyn Rail, Words without Borders, Flash Art, BOMB and NERO.
Giulia Crispiani is an italian artist and writer living in Rome, where she works as an editor of Nero Editions. She studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam and holds an MA in Art Praxis at the Dutch Art Institute in Arnhem. Her work has been presented at Center for Book Arts, Centrale Fies and FramerFramed among others. She is the author of: What if Every Farewell Would Be Followed by a Love Letter (Union Editions 2020), and What if I can’t say goodbye (Union Editions 2021).
Further Reading and Links
Auto-Portrait, the French translation of the book
Deculturalize, an exhibition about Carla Lonzi
Divided Publishing, their website
Edited and mixed by Sven Dehens
Intro and outro by Chloe Chignell
Recording by both
Music sample from "I'm Following You" by Félicia Atkinson