Friday, 28 March 2014

"RAI tells Italy" Exhibition

I had the chance to check this exhibition dedicated to RAI, the Italian TV (and radio!) public service, and how it contributed to develop Italians' culture and identity through the years.
I wasn't expecting such a rich and interesting exhibition, I have to be honest! The entrance is free, but since it'd be a bit difficult to go through it without understanding Italian I decided to show it and explain it to you--
The exhibition starts with what is sure to get your attention, the costumes wore by some of the most important TV ladies of the time, I'm talking mostly about Raffaella Carrà and Mina, both of them singers and extraordinary "showgirls" already.


The following picture shows a costume wore by the super-popular Kessler twins, another legend of Italian television.
Those women contributed to a modern image of femininity and their success, still strong even now, is indicative of how important they've been.
It may seem vain to give some kind of "social importance" to who may look like simple "starlets" or "showgirls", but those are strong personalities who inspired a new kind of dignity to women all around the world. The fact that as "old women" they are still influential on modern generation is an interesting clue in this sense.

The exhibition goes on presenting us interesting bits of its foundation as a radio service, developed during the Fasscist period.
Here you could check some interesting documents: one is about the abolition of formal language (it's difficult to explain it in English, but Italian formal language uses the third person when referring to the second person, using feminine pronouns... Fascists thought that it sounded un-manly and pansy-like, so instead of this formal language they introduced the use of the second plural person or the simple second person [very unformal] when referring to someone), and the other about the "immediate termination" of Jewish workers from Statal posts.
I found the studies concerning the audience of the period quite intriguing!


For them you could get an idea of the tastes of the population of the period!
It comes out that adults were those who listened to radio the most, and the favourite shows concerned music and international news.

With the development of radio and TV services the need to "instruct" the population started to gain importance.
This was one of the books developed by the communication services at the time, a manual of orthography and pronunciation:
It may look weird to think that at people can't speak or write their language, but such was the situation of Italy in that period: the most of people talked in their regional dialects and the vast majority of them were analphabets. Radio and TV were sources of communications were Italians could actually face their culture and language.

The exhibition developed into various subjects concerning TV and radio genres: its importance for politics, culture, science and business.
The rooms were staged so to focus on those subjects, and the whole thing was sprinkled with interesting video contributions and clips, that unfortunately came all unsubbed, so inaccessible to a foreign audience.

Here's a still featuring a moving plea of a father during the funeral of a mafia victim (I had to rush out of the room 'cause I was starting to cry >_>; ), but also lovely bits of Italian "variety shows" (on the second picture you can see the glorious Alberto Sordi and the above mentioned Kessler twins) and modern contribution to artistic divulgation (in the picture my most beloved Philippe Daverio talking about Giotto)




I loved the artistic contributions too.
The most of them were works from popular artists of the period, and were realized to illustrate the release of a magazine, book or music disc's covers.


Above you can see an illustration by De Chirico dedicated to the Dolce Stil Novo and a patriotic scene of Garibaldi's life.

A huge section was staged in the middle of the exhibition, focusing on the wonderful radio shows that characterized a whole age.
"Interviste Impossibili" ("The Impossibile Interviews") was one of the most original shows of the time, focusing on imaginary interviews with ghosts of important personalities of past ages, running from Nero to Mozart-- The other picture refers to "serious music", and how radio made it accessible to those who couldn't hear concerts or attend opera shows because of a limited budget.


Making culture accessible and understandable was the main focus of radio and TV back then.

I loved to see the old models of radios!






The first radios were importend from the USA and were extremely expensive. Lately Italian manifacturing will start working on their own models.
I love the style of the "Radio Balilla", the signature model introduced during Fascism, and the creativity behind the "crystal radio"!

A special mention to "The little bird", random sounds resembling the chirping of a bird, aired during the pause between a show and another.
--You can hear it here ^_^

Obviously lots of importance was given to little kids, too.
One of the most popular shows back then was "I Quattro Moschiettieri" ("The Four Musketeers"), a parody of the work by Dumas where the heroes had to face new adventures in a mix of songs and humor.
This show became extremely popular because it was connected with a collection of cards distributed with the products of the sponsors.
Here are some illustrations dedicated to the various magazines dedicated to them:
Another interesting bit concerns a case of "censorship" that happened with these two cards, "The wife of Tarzan" and "The beautiful Shulamite".
In the first case, the girl is showing her garter provocatively, and in the other the huge naked boobs of the Arabian beauty are quite noticeable--
Under you can see the "censored" versions.





Turning back to the TV action, one of the most interesting contributions to the TV for kids, I have to talk about "Giovanna, la nonna del Corsaro Nero" ("Giovanna, the grandmorther of the Black Corsar"), another parody of Salgari's adventures, where the protagonist of the story is this fiery old woman on a mission to avenge the death of her nephews, the Black Corsar and the Green Corsar.






The second picture shows original scripts of the TV episodes, and the others are studies on the costumes, which I really love!

We're back to the educational and divulgative role of TV.

Here's a shot of the glorious "Non è mai troppo tardi" ("It's never too late"), a TV show that taught Italian language to Italians-- The lessons of Alberto Manzi gave a chance to all those adults who couldn't attend school because of war or work to learn how to write, read and talk proper Italian.

This is the videoclip of the live coverage of the landing on the Moon.
It was 1969 and not so many could see it on TV.
The most of Italians heard about it on the radio, the others went to the closer bar to see it on TV (it was difficult for an average Italian family to own a TV, but locals and bars could afford one, turning it into the "TV of the neighbourhood")--

The last part of the exhibition focused on the "tools" of the TV-- The first video cameras importend from the USA, and the glorious Moto Guzzi used during the sport live coverages!




And obviously a very nostalgic part showing the old TV models-- To be honest, I think that I had one similar to those when I was a kid-- It was still working in the 90s but in the end I was presented a colour TV and I had to throw it away-- It was quite sad, to be honest--

The exhibition ended showing the new technologies and developments for TV, like the 3D screen that could be watched without glasses or so-- In the end it was a wonderful exhibition with many interesting and nostalgic bits-- As difficult as it could be to access it for a foreigner, I hope that this report of mine was informative enough for you guys!

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