Fit/One VS Tropos

One of the best experiences I had on my trip was absolutely free of charge, on the outskirts of the city. Not a tourist destination by all means.

One evening in Frankfurt I spent time in a gym. Its called Fit/One. I went to check it out after being recommended by one of the guys I was staying with. He advised that I try everything ( <Prova tutto, va bene?> ). I didn’t try the solarium – when I initially checked it out it was occupied and then I forgot to go back – but I did work out on the stair and elliptical machines, drink pineapple and lemon infused waters from the drink station, try out the vibrating platform machine, walked around, saw where the group lessons are held, and got a towel to borrow. It is a beautiful gym. Lots of space and lots of different toys. Very clean and modern with black floors and walls and lime green accents. Then I hit the shower.

I would have liked to have taken pictures because I was immediately hit by the contrast. But I didn’t because I didn’t want to risk making the other women feel uncomfortable or get in trouble.

The changing room is two big rooms with lockers lining the walls. When you open the door from the gym, on the side of the wall to your immediate right is a bar table complete with hair dryers and mirrors. If you walk along this side you end up at the adjacent corner of the room where there is an opening. This is the entrance to the showers. The showers are another big room with shower heads lining the walls. Let me remind you that everything in these rooms is black. The floors, the walls, and the ceilings.




Reflections from La Tutela Tricolare: I Custodi dell’Identità Culturale

Italy has two police corps: the polizia and the carabinieri. The polizia are the state police while the carabinieri is part of the army. They get their name from the traditional carabina rifle that they used to carry and have been a longer lifespan than Italy itself. Most of the carabinieri come from Southern Italy, specifically the regions of Campania, Sicily, Calabria, Puglia. These regions are the same ones that the four major mafia organizations call home. So the people who come from these regions obviously have an interest in this kind of work. According to an interview of a carabinieri made my BBC, the sense of justice and rivalsa (payback or retaliation) is what motivates people to join.

Within the carabinieri, a special section called the Tricolor Safeguard was established in 1969with the purpose of tackling illegal exports of cultural assets. It is a team made up of art historians, scientists, and archaeologists. In 1990s it expanded. Due to their high reputation, today the Tricolor Safeguard is hired out by foreign powers for international cases.

La Tutela Tricolare: I Custodi dell’Identità Culturale is an exhibit that informs about the Tricolor Safeguard and showcases artworks from individual cases. The exhibit is currently at the Uffizi Gallery’s new exhibition room.Our teacher gave us a little introduction to the exhibit before going inside.

I was uninterested and a little upset. I thought the idea of the exhibit was not very deep and just so typical of Italian art museums. I thought that the reason for this exhibit was just to make an excuse for bringing out old works from storage that hadn’t seen daylight in a few decades.

But my whole mood changed when I read this final sentence under the heading “Reason for this Exhibit”:

“Protecting our artistic assets and our environment stimulates tourism in the loftiest sense of the term, fostering cultural exchange and the spread of ideas among the people of the world.”

I had always assumed that there was a sort of nationalistic pride behind the desire to protect and preserve Italian art. But there’s a whole other reason… It’s not about protecting, restoring, and investing in the safekeeping of artwork from Italy for the sake of preserving a heritage to be proud of. Preserving and maintaining something to be known for and recognized for. Rather it is about preserving it for the sake of everyone’s educational experience. For the benefit of future generations.



Ai Weiwei @ Palazzo Strozzi

My dear Italian professor arranged a guided tour for our classes on January 18th. After the visit, I wrote him an email of my thoughts on the exhibit. I also addressed a comment that he made expressing that Weiwei’s art is “too conceptual.” This is the email and my translation is mixed in.

Caro professore,

Sono uscita da lezione prima per fare uno scambio linguaggio. è andato bene. Grazie.
I left class early to do a language exchange. It went well. Thank you.
Secondo me, abbiamo sbagliato per non dirti nulla della mostra al Palazzo Strozzi perché ci hai dato una buona esperienza. (E grazie anche della lista; mi ha aiutato capire di più quello che Mariana ci ha detto.)
In my opinion, we messed up by not telling you anything about the exhibit at Palazzo Strozzi because you gave us a great experience. (And also thank you for the list; it helped me better understand what Mariana told us.)
(He gave us a list of vocabulary that had to do with each artwork so that we could learn the words before going. Mariana was our guide).
La mostra mi ha fatto pensare molto. Frequento il museo e la galleria d’arte e mi piace pensare criticamente della cosa scelto per presentare e come si presenta. Ho molte cosa da dire perché mi piace molto l’arte contemporanea e politica, conosco bene Ai Weiwei, e penso spesso della utilità dell’arte.
The exhibit made me think a lot. I often go to museums and art galleries and I like to think critically about what is presented and the way it is presented. I have many things to say because I very much like contemporary and political art, I am familiar with Ai Weiwei, and I think often about the purpose of art.
Io amo amo amo l’arte concettuale. è semplice. Arriva al punto. Mi fa entusiasta una bella idea ben eseguita. Ricordo che mi hai detto che avevi pensato che l’arte di Weiwei è ‘troppo concettuale.’S ento spesso questa critica dell’arte concettuale. Ma che significa?
I love love love conceptual art. It is simple. It gets to the point. I get excited about a well-executed idea. I remember you told me you thought Ai Weiwei’s art is “too conceptual.”I often hear this critique of conceptual art. But what does it mean?
Forse, a loro non piace perché di solito l’arte concettuale non è dolce per gli occhi e credono che l’arte debba essere bella e fatto con talento. Comunque anche con l’arte dell’arte classica, non si può apprezzare una opera in totale senza la conoscenza, la comprensione. Senza se aveva saputo com’è fatto, chi era l’artista, ed i temi che sono rappresentati. Un bambino non può apprezzare un Caravaggio perché non sa. Non sa delle tecniche artiste né l’ambiente in cui è stato fatto. Questi punti sono importanti in modo da apprezzare.
Perhaps they don’t like it because conceptual art is usually not easy on the eyes and they think that art should be beautiful and made with skill. However, even with classical art you cannot appreciate the artwork without knowledge and understanding. Without having known how it was made, who the artist was, and the themes that are represented. A baby cannot appreciate a Caravaggio because it doesn’t know anything. It doesn’t know about the artistic techniques nor the environment in which it was made.  These points are important in order to appreciate.
C’è un simbiosi fra l’opera e la sua storia. Ogni opera ha la sua propria utilità per la quale la diamo valore. il ragione per le sue arte e per fare un discorso degli eventi dell’ingiustizia, come la libertà di parola in Cina, se non inspirano azione. Quindi, per esempio, se le sue arte non ci riescono a creare pensamenti della libertà di parola, non sono buone. Se, invece, i partecipanti partono dalla mostra senza aver capito, senza aver sentito, non sono buone.
There is a symbiotic relationship between a work of art and its story. Each opera has its own use from which its value comes from. The reason for his (Weiwei’s) art is to create a discussion about the events of injustice, like the lack of freedom of speech in China,
So, for example, if his art doesn’t succeed in creating thoughts about freedom of speech, it is not good. If instead the visitors leave from the exhibit without having understood, without having felt, then the art is not good.
Ti ho detto che sono andata all’isola Alcatraz per vedere la sua mostra ‘In Libertà’ (‘@Large’) e che mi è piaciuta. è stata fatto dai volontari perché due anni fa lui era in prigione cinese. C’erano solo 5 o 6 opere in totale e ogni opera ha avuto il proprio spazio. La mostra sia stato più potente perché sia più grande, rappresentano le persone del passato e del presente dappertutto il mondo, c’era tanti tipi di mezzi (scultura, musica, installazione, tecnica mista), ed era interattiva. Molto pianificazione c’è voluto. Lui ha scelto ogni spazio in particolare e così le opere sono collegati alla storia del prigione Alcatraz, con lui, e, naturalmente, con il tema di ‘libertà.’ Attacco delle mie foto, alcuni loro dal sito web (, e uno video mio.
I told you that I went to the island of Alcatraz to see his exhibit “@Large” and that I liked it. It was made by volunteers because two years ago he was in prison in China. There were only 5 or 6 works in total and each work had its own space. The exhibit was more powerful because it was bigger, represented people from the past and the present throughout the world, and there were many different mediums (sculpture, music, installation, mixed medium), and it was interactive. A lot of organizing was needed. He chose each particular space so that each opera related to the story of the prison of Alcatraz, to him, and, of course, to the theme of “freedom.”I am attaching some of my photos, some from the website, and a video of mine.
Mi è piaciuto come una delle sue opere ha inspirato azione: c’era una stanza dove si può scrivere una cartolina a un prigioniero politico. E secondo me, questo è il suo obiettivo. La mostra ‘Libero’, secondo me, non era tanto quanto buona perché non allinea con o esegue i suoi proprio principi.
I liked how one of his works inspired action: there was a room where you could write to a political prisoner on a postcard. In my opinion, this is his goal. The exhibit “Libero,” in my opinion, was not as good because it does not align with or follow his own principles.
Immagino che sia stato difficile per Weiwei collegarsi con Italia e Firenze. Al palazzo strozzi lui ha presentato le opere dei mattoni Lego di Dante, Strozzi…ed invece ad Alcatraz erano dei prigionieri politici e c’erano tanti. Un’artista molto politico come lui non abbia bisogno di rendere omaggio ai famosi fiorentini del passato. E perché hanno deciso di mostrare un collezione del lavoro della sua vita a Palazzo Strozzi? Forse ci sia bisogna di dimostrare che lui ha importanza. Sia bisogno di mostrare la sua lunga storia di arte e attivismo.
I imagine that it may have been difficult for Weiwei to connect himself with Italy and with Florence. At Palazzo Strozzi he presented Lego brick artworks of Dante, Strozzi… and instead on Alcatraz they were of political prisoners and there were many. A very political artist such as himself would not need to pay homage to the famous people of Florence’s past. And why did they choose to show a collection of his life’s work at Palazzo Strozzi? Perhaps there was a need to show that he is important. There may have been a need to show his long history of art and activism.
Sopratutto, penso che era scelto perché gli amministri musei fiorentini vogliano attrarre i giovani. Lui sia un buon esempio dell’artista di oggi. Lui è molto popolare su social media. Ha detto cose con cui molti giovani sono d’accordo. Fa buon usa del suo smartphone per fare le foto e condividere i suoi pensamenti. Anche ha una storia interessante e ben documentata. è stata un investimento scafato perché lui è proprio un artista redditizia. Le mie foto della roba (cancelli, magneti) sono di Alcatraz però niente ha cambiato; le cose simili sono venduto al negozio di articoli da regalo al Palazzo Strozzi.

Above all, I think that he had been chosen because the administrators of the Florentine museums wanted to attract the youth.

He may be a good example of the artist of today. He is very popular on social media. He has said things that many of the youth agree with. He makes good use of his smartphone to take pictures and share his thoughts. He also has an interesting and well-documented story. It was a smart investment because he is a sell-able artist. My photos of the things (erasers, magnets) are from Alcatraz but nothing has changed; similar things were sold in the gift shop at Palazzo Strozzi.

Sìì sono finita!
Yay I finished!
Grazie di nuovo,
Thanks again,