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Event Details

Mon, June 26, 2017

18:30 – 21:30

Villa La Pietra
Via Bolognese, 120
50139 Firenze, ITALY

Inauguration of an art exhibition organized by Ellyn Toscano (Opened June 25 – December 14, 2017) by five international artists  Zoe Buckman, Alessandra Capodacqua, Patricia Cronin, Bärbel Reinhard, and Deb Willis, and writings by five poets Antonella Anedda Angioy, Elisa Biagini, Christine Malvasi, Eileen Myles and Alicia Ostriker. Poetry reading by Elisa Biagini, followed by a performance by Karen E. Finley, New York-based performance artist.

Karen Finley makes her Villa La Pietra debut with this performance of The Genital Election. Finley will present excerpts from her recent performance Unicorn Gratitude Mystery that examines pathological power, projection and gender in the US presidential election. In one excerpt Finley will perform as Donald Trump, embodying blonde feminine desire and degradation while unleashing psychosexual motivations for his presidential run against Hillary Clinton. Karen Finley is an award-winning artist of varying mediums, from her installations, music, painting, and writing to her most notable work as a performance artist. Her career brought her all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States in 1998 in a landmark case, National Endowment of the Arts v. Finley. Finley is known as one of the NEA 4, a group of artists defunded by the National Endowment of the Arts in the United States for their frank depiction of controversial and taboo issues in their work. Since the 1970s, she has pioneered in her field, recalled by many as “the chocolate smeared woman.” Her visceral work depicts issues surrounding sexuality, gender, violence, and celebrity. She is a Guggenheim fellow and recipient of the New York State Council on the Arts fellowship and the prestigious Richard J Massey Foundation Arts and Humanities Award. Her work has been featured internationally at the most esteemed venues (The Bobino in Paris, The ICA in London, Lincoln Center in New York). Her performance follows the inauguration of the exhibition Regarding Women in the Acton Collection. Using the Acton Collection as both a productive and discursive site, this exhibition examines the depiction of women with a transhistorical perspective, adding into the Villa’s collection contemporary responses by artists and poets in an effort to investigate, challenge and expand upon received art historical categories of iconography, patronage, material and function. Regarding Women in the Acton Collection is inaugurated as part of The Season, curated and produced by Ellyn Toscano. The Season was founded in 2004 by Toscano, the Villa’s director, from her vision to set contemporary work in conversation with the Villa’s expansive grounds and eclectic art collection. Since 2004, the Season has produced collaboration and exploration between international artists of varying mediums. In context with the exhibition curated by Toscano, Finley’s performance is sure to be a riveting event that is not to be missed.

Featured Biographies

Antonella Anedda Angioy


Antonella Anedda (Anedda-Angioy) has published five collections of poetry and has translated classical and modern poets including Ovid, Philippe Jaccottet and Anne Carson. Her poetry has received the Montale, Dedalus, Dessi, and Naples Prizes. Salva con Nome (2012), her most recent book, received the Viareggio-Repaci Prize. The four books of essays she has published are focused mainly on literature and arts and her last prose work, Isolatria, is a poetic guide to Sardinia and particularly to La Maddalena.
An English edition of a selection of her poetry, Archipelago, translated by Jamie McKendrick, was published by Bloodaxe in 2014. For this translation, Jamie McKendrick received in 2017 the John Florio Prize.
Anedda is a lecturer in modern Italian literature at the University of Lugano, Switzerland.

Elisa Biagini


Elisa Biagini lives in Florence, Italy, after having taught and studied in the US for several years (Ph.D. Rutgers University). She has published seven poetry collections, most recently Da una crepa (2014; forthcoming in the US by Xenos books). Her poems have been
translated into many languages, and she has published editions of her poetry in Spain and the US (The guest in the wood, Chelsea editions, NY 2013 – “2014 Best Translated Book Award”). A translator from English (of Alicia Ostriker, Sharon Olds, Lucile Clifton among
others), she has published an anthology of contemporary American poetry, Nuovi Poeti Americani (Einaudi, 2006) and she has been invited to the most important international poetry festivals. She teaches writing at NYU Florence.

Zoe Buckman


Zoë Buckman (b. 1985 Hackney, East London) is a multi-disciplinary artist working in sculpture, installation, and photography, exploring themes of Feminism, mortality, and equality. Buckman’s work has been shown in solo exhibitions including Imprison Her Soft Hand at Project for Empty Space, Newark, Every Curve at PAPILLION ART, Los Angeles and Present Life at Garis & Hahn Gallery, New York. Notable group exhibitions include: Harlem Postcards Fall/Winter 2016-2017, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY off the wall, Monique Meloche, Chicago, IL Framing Beauty, curated by Deborah Willis, Grunwald Art Gallery, Indiana University, IN For Freedoms, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, NY Truth to Power, the Democratic National Convention, Philadelphia, PA Making and Unmaking, curated by Duro Olowu, Camden Arts Centre, London, UK Game On!, the Children’s Museum of the Arts, New York, NY To Be Young, Gifted, and Black, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, ZA New Abstraction, Leila Heller Gallery, New York, NY. Buckman was a featured artist at Pulse Projects New York 2014 and Miami 2016, and was included in the curated Soundscape Park at Art Basel Miami Beach 2016. The artist completed an artist residency at Mana Contemporary. Public works include a mural at Live Arts, Chelsea, New York in collaboration with Natalie Frank. Buckman studied at the International Center of Photography (ICP) and lives and works in New York.

Alessandra Capodacqua


Alessandra Capodacqua lives and works in Florence. A graduate in European Languages and Literatures, Alessandra is a photographer, teacher and curator of exhibitions. As a visual artist, she works with many different types of cameras, including pinhole, toy, digital and mobile. She constantly expands her artistic development by experimenting with new digital technologies and alternative printing processes. She teaches photography in Italian and in English for national and international schools and colleges. As a curator, Alessandra has developed exhibitions of photography and has participated to the creation of festivals of photography in Italy and abroad, such as the International Triennial Festival of Photography Backlight in Tampere, Finland and SI Fest 2016 in Savignano sul Rubicone. She is regularly invited for portfolio reviews: her task is to help photographers organize and expand their artistic production. She also gives photographers feedback for improving their career. Her main area of interest is documentary photography, photojournalism, street photography, and visual storytelling. She is often invited as juror for International Photo Awards and Prizes, and is a regular contributor to the LensCulture website.

Her photographs are shown nationally and internationally. Her works are in private and public collections, including the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence, the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris, the MUSINF in Senigallia, and the Museo di Montelupone. For more information visit her website

Patricia Cronin


Patricia Cronin is a New York-based cross-disciplinary artist and since the early-1990s, her photographs, paintings and sculptures, which examines issues of gender, sexuality and social justice, have been widely exhibited in the U.S. and internationally. Shrine For Girls, Venice premiered as a solo Collateral Event of the 56th Venice Biennale then traveled to The FLAG Art Foundation, New York, NY and The LAB, Dublin, Ireland. Other solo exhibitions were presented at the Capitoline Museum’s Centrale Montemartini Museum, and the American Academy in Rome Art Gallery, both in Rome, Italy; Newcomb Art Museum, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA; Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY and her monumental sculpture “Memorial To A Marriage” is permanently installed in Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, NY. Cronin is the recipient of numerous awards including: the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant, Pollack Krasner Foundation Award and a Civitella Ranieri Fellowship. Her works are in museum collections such as the National Gallery of Art and Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, both in Washington, DC, Perez Art Museum Miami, FL and Gallery of Modern Art and Kelvingrove Museum, both in Glasgow, Scotland. She is the author of Harriet Hosmer: Lost and Found, A Catalogue Raisonné and The Zenobia Scandal: A Meditation on Male Jealousy. Cronin received her MFA from Brooklyn College of The City University of New York, where she is Professor of Art.

Karen E. Finley


Born in Chicago, she received her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. Working in a variety of mediums such as installation, video, performance, public art, visual art, entertainment, television and film, memorials, music, and literature, she has presented her work worldwide in various venues such as The Bobino in Paris, The ICA in London and Lincoln Center in NYC. Finley lectures and gives workshop at universities and museums internationally. Her work is in collections such as the Museum of Contemporary art and the Pompidou. She is the author of eight books, including a 25th  anniversary edition of Shock Treatment (City Lights 2015), Reality Shows, (Feminist Press 2011), and George and Martha (Verso 2008). Her recent work includes, Artist Anonymous –a social practice self-help open meeting for those addicted to art presented at Museum of Art and Design (2014), and Written in Sand, a performance of music and her writings on AIDS, Open Heart, a Holocaust memorial at Camp Gusen, Austria; Broken Negative, where Finley reconsiders her infamous chocolate performance that brought her to the Supreme Court, in Finley vs. NEA; and at the New Museum, NYC Sext ME if You Can, where Finley creates commissioned portraits inspired by “sexts” received from the public. Finley creates interactive walks such as Mandala: Reimaging Columbus Circle Columbia Graduate school of Architecture and Elastic City. A recipient of many awards and grants including a Guggenheim Fellowship, NYSCA and NEA fellowships. In 2015 she was awarded the Richard J Massey Foundation Arts and Humanities award.

Christine Malvasi


Christine Malvasi graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Princeton University and earned her MFA in Creative Writing from New York University, where she is currently on faculty in the Expository Writing Department. She has received NYU’s Willy Gorrissen Award for Excellence in Teaching, and grants and residencies from Poets & Writers, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Princeton-in-Asia Program in Singapore, among others. She is the editor of Challenges for the Delusional, an anthology of writing exercises and the poems they inspired. A graduate of the William Esper Studio Meisner Conservatory Program, she is also an actor and musician. At the beginning of 2017, she served as Visiting Faculty Fellow at NYU Florence through the Global Research Institute.

Eileen Myles


Eileen Myles is a poet, novelist and performer whose books include Chelsea Girls, I Must Be Living Twice, selected poems and The Importance of being Iceland/travel essays in artAfterglow (a dog memoir) will be out next fall. In 1992 Myles conducted an openly female write in campaign for president of the United States. Myles has received grants and awards from the Guggenheim foundation, Creative Capital, the Foundation for Contemporary Art and in 2016 was awarded the Clark Prize for excellence in art writing. Myles is also a television poet. Her poems have appeared in seasons 2 and 3 of the Emmy-winning TV show Transparent. She lives in New York and Marfa TX.

Alicia Ostriker


Alicia Ostriker is a poet and critic. Her thirteenth poetry collection, The Book of Seventy, received the 2009 National Jewish Book Award for Poetry; The Book of Life: Selected Jewish Poems 1979-2011 received a Paterson Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013. She has also received awards from the Poetry Society of America, the San Francisco Poetry Center, the Guggenheim foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation among others, and has twice been a National Book Award finalist. Her most recent book of poems is Waiting for the Light. As a critic, Ostriker is the author of Stealing the Language: the Emergence of Women’s Poetry in America. She is also the author of several other books on poetry and on the Bible.

Bärbel Reinhard


Bärbel Reinhard is an artist working with photography and a teacher. After studying art history and sociology in Berlin she graduated in professional photography at Fondazione Studio Marangoni in Florence. Beside her work as photography teacher and freelance she works mainly on personal projects and has exhibited in Italy and abroad. She has curated several exhibitions in Italy and collaborated with publishers in the photographic sector. Her main interest is in the characteristics and limits of photography as a space-time-tied medium and its layering, memory and nature.

Ellyn Toscano


Ellyn Toscano is Executive Director of New York University Florence. She is the founder of La Pietra Dialogues and the producer of The Season, a summer festival which assembles artists, writers, musicians and public intellectuals to produce new works or reinterpretations of classics. Before arriving at New York University Florence, Ms. Toscano served as Chief of Staff and Counsel to Congressman Jose Serrano of New York for two decades, was his chief policy advisor on legislative, political and media concerns and directed his work on the Appropriations Committee. Ms. Toscano also served as counsel to the New York State Assembly Committee on Education for 9 years and served on the boards of several prominent arts and cultural institutions in New York City, including The Bronx Museum of the Arts and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. She served on the board of trustees of the International School of Florence, Italy. A lawyer by training, Ms. Toscano earned an LLM in International Law from New York University School of Law.

Deb Willis


Deborah Willis, Ph.D, is University Professor and Chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and has an affiliated appointment with the College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Social & Cultural Analysis, Africana Studies, where she teaches courses on photography and imaging, iconicity, and cultural histories visualizing the black body, women, and gender. Her research examines photography’s multifaceted histories, visual culture, the photographic history of Slavery and Emancipation, contemporary women photographers and beauty.  She received the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship and was a Richard D. Cohen Fellow in African and African American Art, Hutchins Center, Harvard University and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow. Professor Willis received the NAACP Image Award in 2014 for her co-authored book (with Barbara Krauthamer) Envisioning Emancipation. Other notable projects include The Black Female Body A Photographic History, Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photographers – 1840 to the Present, Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present, Michelle Obama: The First Lady in Photographs, a NAACP Image Award Literature Winner, and Black Venus 2010: They Called Her ‘Hottentot’.