Keeping up with the borsisti: Part II

A few weeks ago, the Life at the BSR blog took a look at the progress of the research and practice of some of the award-holders who arrived at the BSR at the start of the year. This week we are checking in with the other new arrivals: JD Rhodes, Mark Somos and Caroline Cloutier.

John David Rhodes (Balsdon Fellow)

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While staying at the BSR, JD is researching modern cinematic depictions of Rome in a project entitled The uneternal city: modern Rome according to cinema. During the past couple of weeks, he has shared his expertise with fellow BSR award-holders by arranging a two-part study series, Spatial and Visual Empiricism. The first session, Piazzas, Doors, Hallways, was a seminar held at the BSR in which the methods for thinking about urban and domestic space, and the spaces that link them, were discussed. The second session, Cinematic Place and Roman Urban History, put this discussion into practice as JD led his group to  EUR, a district in Rome which Mussolini chose to develop as a showcase of Italian Fascist architecture. Below are some photos of the EUR trip, taken by Zoe Cormack (Rome Fellow).

 

We are very much looking forward to JD’s talk, Disembowelled vision: Fascism, Rome and cinema, taking place at the BSR on Monday 13 March.

Mark Somos (Balsdon Fellow)

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On his time spent as an award-holder in Rome so far, Mark writes: ‘My first month at the BSR was wonderful. Like Rome itself, the BSR staff and fellows are a daily source of joy and learning.

‘Work has been going well. For my main project on finishing a census of Vesalius’ Fabrica (1543 and 1555) I’ve visited the BNC, the Lincei, the Vatican and the Angelica, which together hold over half the total copies in Rome. My co-authors and I are on schedule with the  manuscript. Our publisher is very supportive, and continues to invest resources.

‘Because the project is going smoother than expected, I started another one. There were several possibilities, and Christopher [Smith, BSR Director] very kindly advised me on which one to follow. I am now reading Alberti’s I Libri della Famiglia, written in Rome and Florence in the 1430s-40s, and now regarded as the first work to seriously examine the boundaries between private and public in early capitalism. I’ve always thought that an insufficient interpretation of the book; and it turns out that Rome is the place to reread it. When Alberti discusses planting different pine trees, one finds several of the varieties he had in mind in the Villa Borghese. When he transforms the semantic range of terms like ‘masseria’ and ‘masserizia’ to cover thrift, economy, self-mastery, correct relationships within the household, the right way to protect the household from contentious and unprofitable politics, one can then talk to native Romans to learn that ‘masseria’ also invokes a widely recognisable, romantic architectural image of a self-sufficient homestead, something between a villa and a farm. I look forward to closely examining what is probably the most important (and neglected) manuscript in the Vatican.

‘My wife, son and I have also spent a great deal of time just walking around. It’s a joy to share this city, and spend days in the Vatican, Capitoline, MAXXI and other museums.

‘All three things – Vesalius’ anatomy atlas, Alberti’s manual on modern households and politics, and absorbing the living historical city en famille – are only possible here. From completing projects to starting new ones, I expect to enjoy my Fellowship’s benefits for many years to come’.

On Wednesday 8 March, Mark will be giving a talk entitled Gender and power in the reception of Andreas Vesalius’s Fabrica: results from the census, which we are very much looking forward to!

Caroline Cloutier (Québec Resident)

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‘During the first weeks of my stay in Rome, I had the privilege of doing on-site studies of trompe-l’oeil paintings from the Renaissance. While those have given me important revelations for my current research, lately I have found myself being strongly inspired by the modern Italian architecture, and the late afternoon sunlight that draws sharp triangular shadows on the suburbian buildings. Feeling enriched from those heteroclite new inspirations, I am currently working on a unique site-specific photographic installation for the March Mostra, that will dialogue with the architecture of the BSR gallery’.


All portrait photos by Antonio Palmieri

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