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Carla BERTOLA (Italy)

Carla Bertola (b. 1935) poet, performer, publisher. Author of numerous publications in various literary and artistic magazines, collections, catalogues, and also in the international anthologies. In 1978 she initiated (jointly with . Vitacchio ) publishing of the international magazine Offerta Speciale, dedicated to the issues of visual and experimental poetry. Also publishes periodical literary miscellanies of sound poetry Pate De Voix. Conducted more than twenty solo exhibitions of visual poetry and book-art, since 1981 she has participated in a large number of international group exhibitions of visual and experimental poetry. For more information see the bio-bibliography of the participant . Taken from the poets manuscript. 2000 Carla Bertola, Torino.

MULIER SONORA

I have been studying female phonetic-sound poets working in Italy since the 1970s.  My aim is to underscore the value of those female figures against the general background. I have observed that in writing the history of movements we tend to forget the more discreet figures, the less pugnacious ones, even if of great value.  Perhaps because of these or other reasons, we tend to forget women.

Therefore my short essay will be a memorandum from A to...X to stimulate more in-depth research.

A Luciana Arbizzani. An artist working in phonetic and visual areas since the early 1970s, she died in 1991, still young. To our sorrow for her death we must add our sadness that after her death her works are practically untraceable because of the complete lack of interest of her family. Its only thanks to some friends that perhaps Ill be able to get and pass along some information. Since I am proposing to study in depth her work, Ill limit myself here to the brief facts as I know them.

In the Baobab collection of phonetic poetry edited by Adriano Spatola which appeared at the end of the 1970s there is a monographic cassette titled Transuraniche which refers to a book of score texts with the same title in the collection Tam Tam (n 28A 1981). Other books from 1972 to 1982 have the same characteristics and were the material of her sound-visual performances: In Parti Uguali 1972, Argille desistenza 1975, and Che la goccia sia sferica 1979 in the Geiger editions. Her visual compositions were often devised with a deeply expressive painting technique, which offered her the possibility to do very interesting large-scale pictures. In many performances she used color slides of her works that wrapped the room and mixed with the sound of her voice. In the performances were sometimes dance elements performed by professionals instructed by her for this kind of artwork. Another recorded composition is Chorus per Eva. Her works are in the cassette Pate de Voix n 1 (1985) and she took part at the event organized by Offerta Speciale Poetecne, 1988. She also contributed to many issues of our magazine. In 1985 she organized an evening performance at the Sala Polivalente in Ferrara, with the title fragMENts and WOMEN, (the artists were Arbizzani, Bertola and Nicola Frangione). She and her art were prominent in Ferrara where she was a point of reference for other young female and male artists.  She is an artist of note who also took part in numerous gatherings in different cities. Shes an artist we mustnt forget.

” Bertola (yes Ill talk a little bit about myself). I was born in 1935 and I say it outright because very few women state their date of birth in their biographies its often difficult to put their artistic evolution in context. I started to publish poems in 1960 and began an expressive research which led me first to visual poetry and readings and then, at the beginning of the 1980s, to sound poetry and to poesiteatro performances. Since than I have written many texts and I performed in many cities and countries: France, Ireland, Germany, Mexico, Brazil, and Cuba. Very often these performances are written and executed with Alberto Vitacchio and I think that this Ac-couple-ment is a peculiar feature in the history of sound poetry. Naturally I cultivate my womans creativity and I dedicated great attention to women writers. Ive bee involved for many years in womens Futurism and at present in women sound poets. My texts are in the cassette Review (1985/86 Paris), Lepre Electric II (1986), Lautpoesie (Germany 1987/89), Baobab n 18&21 (1990/91) and many others including the Pate de Voix collection, (see biography).

Luciana Arbizzani.
Partitura, 1985

” is also for Tomaso Binga, a roman artist who polemically chose this male name in the 70s, but you can also call her Bianca Menna. In Rome she has directed since 1974 the Cultural Association Lavatoio Contumaciale where she organized a great number of events of sound and multimedia poetry. She has been working on verbovisual writing and sound poetry for nearly thirty years to carry out her project of poetic cohesion among visual, sound and gestural elements. She took part in many events and festivals in Italy and also in Vienna, Paris, Lyon, Madrid, New York and then Argentine, Australia, Brazil and shes still very active. I admire her expressive ability in the use of the voice and the body which can draw out from her texts their inner roots of irony and their funny side. Her texts have been published in many books.

Guido Savio.
Paranoia, 1982

G Milly Graffi. While I am still awaiting more full documentation, Ive found a short biography in the catalogue of Milano-Poesia 1985. She was born in 1940 and began her poetic activity with work on language and wordplay. She plays with words, she invents and changes words, with references to Carroll and the Futurists. She performs in many cities and takes part in meetings and festivals abroad. In 1979 she publishes with Geiger the book Mille graffi e venti poesie and later other poems and essays. In 1982 she started to edit a survey about sound poetry in the magazine Il Verri of which she is now in the executive board.

Federica Manfredini.
Gno-si, 1985

M Federica Manfredini. Frederica was born in Ferrara in 1940 and was a great friend of Luciana Arbizzani. She, also, has died, in August 1997 during a journey in Australia. Her first verbovisual and phonetic works come out in 1980 and propose a steady study of aggregation-disintegration of words with the playful purpose of recreating different realities with the awareness that words can deceive and that play can become a break in a drama. She tried to explore all the artistic forms, she painted and moulded the material preserving the primary poetic of her writings. She made a great number of object books, which she could transform into sound performances. From 1982 to 1997 she did many recordings which she personally executed. She is in many international sound anthologies: Audio, Stockholm 1983, Audio Child, Amsterdam 1983, 3Vtre n 6, 1984, Poesia Sonora Italiana, Baobab 1992, Post Sound, Cork 1993, Pate de Voix n 7 & n 8 (a whole cassette), n 9, Torino 1992/97/98. From the beginning of the 1980s to June 1997, she did a great number of performances. She was always involved in the events of Offerta Speciale, contributing to many issues and taking part into the meetings and exhibitions organized by us: Rendez-vous in Villorba 1989, in Torino for Poetecne in 1988 and at the Zenit in 1991, at Chieri and Castellamonte in 1995. She was deeply bound to other women artist and to the study of womens figures in the history of art and literature. A more complete documentation of her work is in progress with the valuable cooperation of her family. What made a deeper impression in her performances was the great immediacy that succeeded in involving the attention of everybody, to produce a strong emotional tension and so to communicate her artistic language. She took part in many Mail Art and visual poetry projects; Pete Spence in 98 organized an exhibition in Australia Homage to Federica to which many mailartists took part.

Giulia Niccolai.
Pseudoscore, 1984

N for Giulia Niccolai. She was one of the most important figures of visual and sound poetry from 1970 to 1984, the year she decided to give up this form of art and devote herself to study and writing. She was born in Milan in 1934 and started to work as a photographer (1952/64) and then started with linear, phonetic, and visual poetry. In the 1970s, the golden years of Italian and foreign sound and visual poetry, she took part in all the most important international events which convened along with her, Adriano Spatola, Arrigo Lora-Totino , Tomaso Binga, Julien Blaine , Michele Metail, Bernard Heidsieck and many others. She cooperated for many years with Spatolas publishing and artistic projects. Since 1979 she has been often invited to the U.S.A. She was in Australia at Sidney University in 1978, in 1979 in Amsterdam, in 1980 she took part in the tournee des poetes sonores in many French cities, and then at the Festival of Cogolin in 1984, while with Polyphonix U.S.A. She was present at the meetings in several American cities in 1983. She published some visual poetry books and her works are on many international magazines and anthologies. Among the many recordings are the Baobab editions n 1/2/3/4/11/18 since 1978.

S Anna Santoro. She is involved in many cultural activities in Naples, she wrote and is writing phonetic poetry which she has published with Spatola in Tam Tam and Baobab, and she is in some national anthologies. She took part in readings and poetry shows in the middle 80s and she was present at Riverrun in Torino in 86. After that she published novels but I havent recent information about her phonetic poetry work.

Tomaso Binga.
S, 1978

S also, Luisa Sax (a pseudonym). She represents a later and less densely populated generation of women (and men) sound poets in Italy. She was born in Milan in 1956 and began her activity as a musician, a saxophonist in a punk-rock women band at the end of the 1970s and later she started to take an interest in sound poetry. At the end of the 1980s she was invited to performance events with other poets (Zosi, Pasotelli, Lora-Totino) and later, she says at last, she meets other women poets, Binga and Bertola with whom she feels greater affinity. Her poems are basically provocative, ironic, desecrating. In 1988 she took part in Poetecne in Torino, and she was invited to other events among which Yesbe Poetry in Bologna in 1997. Recently she has been working on videopoetry and her video works are accepted in many Italian festivals. Some of her sound poems are in the anthologies of Baobab n 21 and 25 and her texts in the magazines Offerta Speciale and Linus. She shares with me the idea that women poets are generally more amusing than males but Ill talk later about this.

Also S there is Eugenia Serafini, (pseudonym Mariposa). A painter, post, performer who during the 1990s works on the multimedia contamination of the Sign and on the relation between Sign and Universe; a study that expresses itself also through visual poetry and artists books. She does many performances under the general title Canti di Cantastorie perhaps nearer to the Poesie Action than to sound poetry. She has published texts on magazines, among which ours.

Ҕ Romolina Trentini. She is also from Ferrara. She is also of the Arbizzanis school, in contact with whom she began in 1980 her first works of visual and sound poetry, developing an autonomous path of great interest, which she interrupted (temporarily I hope) at the end of the decade to devote herself entirely and with success to painting. In 1986 she took part in our project Riverrun in Torino with a videopoem that she had presented at the meeting at Rocca Stellata in 1985. Since 1981 she has made performances of her visual and sound works in several towns. Some of her sound poems are in Read&Mail n 0 and in Pate n l (both Offerta Speciale), and shes still contributing to our magazine.

Luciano Ori.
Amore virus, 1971

V Patrizia Vicinelli. She was born in Bologna in 1943 and died (she too) in 1991. During the 1960s she worked in the experimental theatre field with Emilio Villa, frequented the poetic milieu of the city, published her first texts on the magazine EX and met some important figures, including Spatola. She has been in the Gruppo 63 since 1966, the year in which she took part with great success in the Meeting of the Group and the publisher Roberto Larici decided to record her first record of phonetic poetry that subsequently appeared in the magazine Marcatre. In the next year, the same publisher prints her book a, a, A. At that time moved to Rome where she worked as a writer and actress with the avant garde cinema. Later she wrote the visual poem Apology of schizoid women which was published by Tau/ma editions (1979). Then she published other books and a volume on her whole work is in progress. She took part in many international exhibitions of visual poetry and shes in anthologies and magazines. She gave readings and did performances, among them: Polyphonix 5 Milan in 1983, 1st Festival International de Cogolin 1984, Parma Festival 1982/83/84, Festival Internazionale dei Poeti in Rome 1982, Milano Poesia 1984/85, Poesie Sonore in Geneva 1985, Canary Festival 1986, Poliphonix Roma 1989, Spoleto Festival 1989. Other participations in Sound Poetry anthologies: Futura (Cramps 1978), Baobab 11/18/19. At present, Gianni Castagnoli is doing his outmost so that Patrizias work will be more appreciated.

At this point my alphabet is there in essence but its certainly unfinished, either because some women poet I got in touch havent sent me their curriculum and I have had to gather it perfunctorily, or because the time and space allowed to me are limited. I want only to add that this womens production must be considered in its complexity and potentiality because, even though not dissociating itself from the mens research, it has its peculiar characteristics. The writing is generally very ironical, aggressive and at the same time well-balanced. The gestual expressiveness of the performances is obviously different and above all the voice has a primary differentiation which has been not much used and studied yet (as far as I know). I hope that this short essay stimulates others and that further studies could analyze other womens Sound Poetry work in other countries.

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