Will they come, or leave their homes, or will they, as in 2020 and 2021, follow the readings and discussions at the Italian Literature Festival in Munich via a stream from their sofa at home? Elisabetta Cavani can’t tell. But in a way that’s exactly what it’s about. About the “case houses” we’ve been stuck in for the past two years (what is “smurfs” in Italian?). More than enough time to reflect on our vision for the future of living, speculation, large neglected apartment buildings, housing, dwelling and its loss, private and public spaces. All of this is now the subject of the fourth edition of the Cavani Heart Project.
In 2019 she founded ILFest, a book researcher from Bologna, who came to Munich in the early 1980s and opened her Ital-Libri library there at some point because she was tired of handing over bags of Italian reading material. The citizens of Monaco de Baviera bring the stove. After two online versions, the Literature Festival will take place from 1. to. July 3 will again be essentially analog, at the Basinger factory. With, Cavani hopes, a lot of personal exchange will happen between the Munich audience and the authors from Italy. Translators will always be on hand.
One of the guests is Luca Molinari, the architect, critic and curator who published his book “Le case che siamo” (The Houses We’re In) in 2016. It would be even more exciting to talk to him about it now that he’s hit the pandemic, says Elisabetta Cavani. Using examples from the history of architecture, Molinari reflects the phenomenon of living in the same way that houses represent their residents’ identity, social relationships, and political context. You follow him through the White House, through Le Corbusier’s grumpy buildings and through the living worlds of IKEA with all its (unifying) individual promises. Home ownership – On the other hand, Gianluca Didino questions this collective dream in his article “Essere senza casa. Sulla condizione di vivere in tempi strani” (Homeless. About living in strange times). Didoni lives in obscenely expensive London, and knows all too well the social realities of housing. In a conversation with Argentine writer Samanta Schweblin, he deconstructs the idea of the home as a place protected from all threats.
“In these weird times we’re going through, we feel this anxiety that affects all of us,” Cavani says. Something, if not everything, has tripped. Thus the house at the Festival of Literature opens its doors and windows wide, and it becomes the planet Earth, on which we are not alone, but we are the only species we constantly destroy. Francesca Boninconti, ornithologist, is a guest at ILFest. In her books “Tierisch laut” and “Grenzenlos”, both published in German in the Vienna Folio Verlag, she talks about communication and survival strategies for animals in times of climate change.
Why hair? very big question
Where is the space for stories and poetry in this reading festival? Elisabetta Cavani can be heard saying “Certo che c’è!”. All this will happen, of course. Lingua madre (“Mother tongue”), the first novel by Bolzano Maddalena Fingerle, which received the Premio Calvino Award 2021, is about what it means to be at home in a language or not. What happens when they become separated? The body is our most intimate space, and language as a tool with which we deal with the outside world? Is poetry still possible today? In our blind poetic age. And why? A very big question that young poets – Maria Borio, Tommaso de Dio, Carmen Gallo, Massimo Gizzi – ask themselves.
They actually had to fight for space for their own language, writers like Natalia Ginzburg, Elsa Morante or Alba de Cespedes, whose book “The Forbidden Notebook” has been recognized in a new edition. Sandra Petrignani has interviewed many of these great Italian women writers of the twentieth century. I spoke to Elisabetta Cavani about these encounters and about trips to their homes (“La scrittrice abita qui,” Neri Pozza; this is where the writer lives). An exhibition was also held in the lobby of the Pasing Factory in a beautiful dialogue with this photographer Luca Nizzoli Toetti showing Italian authors in their working environment.
Children need a home, and the loss can affect their entire lives later on. Like many of her compatriots, Elisabetta Cavani had never heard of this massive act of solidarity by the Italian Communist Party and its women’s organization Unione Donne Italiane. Between 1946 and 1952, about 100,000 children were relocated from the bombed and starved cities of southern Italy to the wealthier north. For families who have taken them for weeks, months, or even forever. At the Festival of Literature, Viola Ardoni’s novel “Il treno dei bambini” (German edition “Ein Zug voll Hoffnung”, C. Bertelsmann) tells a touching story, as well as Alessandro Piva’s documentary “Pasta Nera”. For children, these adaptation masterpieces who learn languages faster than the wind, “ILfest Bambini” offers readings and workshops with illustrator Irene Benatzi. And maybe Munich’s little festival of Italian literature is like the last huge Salone del Libro in Turin. Enthusiasm for books is back.
ILfest – Festival of Italian Literature in Munich, Friday 1 to Sunday 3 July, Basinger Fabrik, August- Exter-Str. 1, information about dates, tickets and broadcast viewing in www.ilfest.de