Francesca Benedetto, “Names, Things, Cities: Divine Comedy”

Francesca Benedetto, Design Critic in Landscape Architecture, will speak about her exhibition Nomi, Cose, Città: Divina Commedia (Names, Things, Cities: Divine Comedy).

The title of the exhibition refers to a popular, old game: Nomi, cose, città. It was a game that could be played anywhere, using only a pen and a piece of paper. The game’s objective was to practice the knowledge of the Italian language by selecting a specific letter and having to find words that start with that letter, whether personal names, things, cities, animals, or plants.

The exhibition Nomi, Cose, Città: Divina Commedia (Names, Things, Cities: Divine Comedy) works in a similar way. Its goal is to deconstruct the Divina Commedia in singular elements that are part of specific categories, and to create a visual archive of one of the most famous long-narrative poems in the world. Every illustrated image refers to main characters as well as objects, atmospheric agents, architectures, cities, landscapes, animals, and so on.

The main categories include people & divinities, as well as nature & architecture. These are relevant for their specificity and individuality as well as for their coexistence in the amazing scenarios envisioned by Dante. The collection of these details of Divina Commedia’s legend has been constructed following the developing of the poem, choosing mostly one element per canto. Ultimately, we have 100 illustrations divided in three cantiche: 34 illustrations for Inferno, 33 for Purgatorio, and 33 for Paradiso.

This illustrated archive represents a playful device to rethink the Divina Commedia in a more contemporary way. It has the ambition to collect and reinterpret in a new, unique, and flexible vision the most recognizable visual representations of the poem, including work by artists such as Gustave Doré, Sandro Botticelli, and William Blake, which have dramatically shaped our visual imaginary of Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso.

Francesca Benedetto studied architecture at the Politecnico di Milano and the Universitade Técnica de Lisboa. In 2008 she founded YellowOffice, an architectural firm with a particular focus on landscape design and urbanism, combining research and design. The practice brings together several scales of design processes: from territorial strategies, urban planning, public spaces, parks, pavilions and cemeteries to objects, interiors, videos, illustrations, maps and exhibitions. The recurrent themes of this research are about the relationship between City and Nature, public spaces and geographic disciplines, always observed through the lens of visual arts.

This lecture is part of the Landscape Architecture Department Lunchtime Lecture Series.

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