I once had to do sound at a big music-and-words event. I went looking for the words in the world of Italian slam poetry, and I’ve never looked back. I discovered that if there are 300 slam poetry events in Italy, 250 of them will be happening in Milan. I was struck by the evocative power of the humble word, of the simple human voice: no stage, no production, no special effects.
This poetry is revolutionary because it breaks through our hyper-technologized society with the disarming honesty of a system error. Filippo Balestra writes from the heart, but his poetry can only be heard through his voice and his performances. This is why we tried to capture it in a video. His poetry, matured on the stages of slam poetry, becomes thought, sound and eventually music.
UN ADESSO IMMENSO – THE VIDEO
I asked Filippo Balestra, the poet from Camogli – a village between the mountains and the sea and therefore a metaphysical frontier – to look at Milan from the outside, which is something that we Milanese are unable to do anymore. Everything that he has written can be summed up by the phrase “Adesso immenso” (an enormous now). But we had to concede that we didn’t have a big enough camera.
Whoever, like me, comes from the surrounding countryside, and, like me, has dared to dream of living a life of music – they have always known that Milan is the final destination, the words you see written in Spanish airports when you’re looking for a way home. Cesare Picco has found the meeting point between tradition and experimentation, between acoustic and electronic, between groove and abstract pianoscapes. Over the years, he has evolved ideas and ways of playing the piano that belie Italian stereotypes.
DANCE OF THE PLANTS – THE VIDEO
We put a grand piano in a building site. We left it standing on rough cement, next to the Milanese pavement, surrounded by grey and by the perplexed looks of the workmen who were using their hammers and buzzsaws and unrolling coils of wire. Cesare Picco played it there and then, among the holes and steel tubes, in the cold, accompanied by the cello of Leonardo Sapere.
MI-SIDE – An investigation by Alessio Bertallot
For a number of years I devoted myself to a radio programme by the name of B side. It was a continual voyage of discovery: I was always digging into transformations in music, always investigating the fresh, raw ideas that were budding and blooming. Whatever I found, I would share with my listeners. Even now, at Radio Casa Bertallot, I follow B side, which is part of my soul, a way I have of seeing and feeling.
Over these years of digital revolution, our society has changed, our lives have changed, radio has changed. I was a DJ; now, in a world where everything is just a click away, I am a ‘selector’: my new job (my B-side, as it were) is to choose what’s important, not to rehash the obvious.
And Milan has changed too: it’s grown, and I’ve grown with it. MI-SIDE is my way of selecting what we would “hear” of this city if the background noise were to cut out.
We’ve followed artists, musicians, poets, writers, mathematicians and photographers, in an attempt to understand what makes this city pulse.
Six auteur videos, produced by Mercato Centrale Milano, a project about Milan and with Milan.
This is MI-SIDE.