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Futurism ready for another 100 years of style

THE great art movement Futurism was born 100 years ago but is alive and strong today. Shanghai fans can enjoy a rare screening of a classic avant-garde film along with a live performance providing a soundtrack. Zhou Tao looks back at Futurism.

One hundred years ago in Italy, a great art movement, Futurism, was launched and influenced many of the following generations of artists.

Today, the Italian Culture Institute Shanghai is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the publication of The Futurist Manifesto.

The next event in the celebrations is the fourth session dedicated to this avant-garde movement. "Polyexpressive Symphonies" will involve the screening of the movie "Berlin, Symphony of a Great City" and a live performance for a soundtrack.

Futurism has had a great influence over a large variety of domains. The first session of the celebration was held in March, with a forum on graphic design and typography in China.

On April 15, a small experimental concert was staged, and on May 23 a forum on architecture and urban planning was held in Shanghai. In December, the celebrations will continue, involving fashion, theater, opera and dance.

"Futurism is by far and away one of the most important movements in Europe in the 20th century," says Paolo Sabbatini, director of the Italian Culture Institute Shanghai. "It truly expresses a European soul because it was invented by the great Italian intellectual Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, who published in France the manifesto of Futurism in 1909. From France the movement quickly spread across Europe and from Europe to the world, eventually reaching China.

"Shanghai can be considered today a Futurist town with its buildings, its highways and its pace, expressing speed and hope in the future, which are the main characteristics of the movement," says Sabbatini. "I'm particularly pleased to see Shanghai giving Italy the chance to celebrate its genius and its contribution to the world culture by a movement which has become a landmark of world lifestyle. "

The movie "Berlin, Symphony of a Great City" was directed by Walter Ruttmann (1887-1941) in 1927. Ruttmann was an experimental film maker who approached cinema by mixing documentary, abstract and expressionist modes for a non-narrative style.

In the movie, a visual melody of pictures takes viewers from dawn to dusk. Viewers observe the silent city as it awakens with a bustle of activity, then the action builds up and finally calms down again when the city settles back into sleep.

Held together by rhythm, movement and theme, this documentary that Ruttmann created presents the concept of modernity by showing repeatedly some key symbols including fast-running trains and flashing neon lights.

Providing the soundtrack to this rare film will be two performers, Mai Mai and Jun Yuan. Mai is a guitarist and vocalist from the band "Muscle Snog" while Jun is a saxophone player from the MTDM Jazz band. They will perform the work in a minimalist style using electric guitars and other instruments capable of enhancing the symphonic effect.

Date: June 6, 8:30pm

Venue: Museum of Contemporary Art Shanghai, 231 Nanjing Rd W. (inside People's Park)

Admission: 50 yuan

Tel: 6327-9900


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