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  • Of Cyborg Technologies and Fascistized Mermaids: Giannina Censi’s Aerodanze in 1930s Italy
  • Anja Klöck* (bio)

Technologized Discourses I


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Figure 1.

Aerodanze. Giannina Censi in her aluminum-colored costume. (Picture without indication of photographer and date.) Reproduced with permission of Mart, Archivio del '900 di Rovereto (Italy), Fondo Giannina Censi.


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Figure 2.

Aerodanze: partenza di aeroplano (departure of the airplane). Photo from the book Cultura fisica della donna ed estetica femmenile by G. Poggi-Longostrevi (Milan: Hoepli, 1933), 247. Reproduced with permission of Mart, Archivio del '900 di Rovereto (Italy), Fondo Giannina Censi.


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Figure 3.

Aerodanze: trivello verso l'azzurro (drilling towards the blue). Photo from the book Cultura fisica della donna ed estetica femmenile by G. Poggi-Longostrevi (Milan: Hoepli, 1933), 253. Reproduced with permission of Mart, Archivio del '900 di Rovereto, Fondo Giannina Censi.


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Figure 4.

Aerodanze: rovesciamento d'apparecchio (capsizing of the apparatus). Photo from the book Cultura fisica della donna ed estetica femminile by G. Poggi-Longostrevi (Milan: Hoepli, 1933), 247. Reproduced with permissioin of Mart, Archivo del '900 di Rovereto, Fondo Giannina Censi.

At the end of the twentieth century, we can no longer be innocent of the understanding that technologies—and the question of who has access to them—condition both what and how events are represented, signs ordered, theories articulated, identities (re)produced, performed and modified. The question of where and how technologies penetrate social interactions, human minds and representational practices can never be separated from the politics of power-relations and material conditions within particular places. Hence the dynamic relationships that emerge between certain technologies (apparati that organize knowledge and experience) and technological practices (activities that are informed by such apparati) need to be situated and historicized.

Technologies condition the knowledge and experiences produced in a specific site at a particular historical moment. The need to historicize and contextualize the interrelationships between certain technologies and technological practices becomes particularly apparent in the case of Italian Futurism, 1 an early twentieth-century avant-garde movement that embraced and glorified the latest technological innovations with its representational practices. Much of the scholarly study of Italian Futurism, however, has tended to dehistoricize and decontextualize the futurist works of art, literature and performance. 2 For a long time after the traumatic experience of World War II, this [End Page 395] movement was ignored by scholars across all disciplines. It was generally assumed that futurist practices of representation had informed the Italian fascist propaganda of the 1920s and 30s. 3 Thus most of the presently available studies in the field of futurist performance and theatre try to legitimize the presence of these works in the history of the avant-garde. They treat the futurist productions as autonomous from the field of political and technological forces within which they emerged and focus on their revolutionary form or aesthetics. Such aestheticizing practices have prompted scholars to multiply rather than analyze the polemics of revolution, of destruction and of a future of men, machines and technology in the early futurist writings (that is, those [End Page 396] texts that were written in the years immediately after the movement’s foundation in 1909). Furthermore, they continue to spread the myth of Futurism as a universe of “men multiplied by machines” 4 without “the help of the vulva,” 5 and as an avant-garde movement that existed exclusive of women. Despite the hostilities against female-gendered bodies on the surfaces of the futurist works, many women participated in or responded to specific moments in Italian Futurism. 6

Giannina Censi’s Aerodanze (Aerial Dances) in 1930s Italy are one example of how a woman’s practices of representation and self-representation acquired visibility within the futurist movement. With her dance-performances of aeronautic experiences she desired not only to simulate the movements and vibrations of the apparatus of an airplane in flight, but also to show the effects of the airplane on the human mind and body. These representational practices were informed by Marinetti’s “Futurist Manifesto of Dance” from 1917, in which the...

Additional Information

ISSN
1086-332X
Print ISSN
0192-2882
Pages
pp. 395-415
Launched on MUSE
1999-12-01
Open Access
No
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