Dante 700 by Timothy Schmalz

“In September 2019, Timothy Schmalz’s ‘Angels Unawares,’ a life-size bronze sculpture commemorating the 105th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, was installed in St. Peter’s Square in Rome. Pope Francis celebrated a special Mass for the occasion.

Timothy is currently working on a new project to honor the 700th anniversary of Dante Alighieri in 2021. ‘I believe Dante is one of the greatest writers of all time. So, I thought I would do what has never been done before. I think this is an amazing opportunity to celebrate not only Dante, but Italian and European culture.’ He plans to sculpt each of Dante’s 300 cantos. The ‘Dante 700’ sculpture project will memorialize this significant anniversary with sculptures of each of the 100 cantos in the Divine Comedy. Very few artists ever represent more than the Inferno in their paintings and sculptures. This is a rare project that will show individual sculptures of all the cantos, including Purgatory and Paradise.

The project will include the cantos and a principal sculpture of Dante. Installed together and cast in bronze, the work will be dynamically represented in order to inspire people to actually read Dante. This sculpture project will also be used to create a new illustrated book of Dante in collaboration with a new translation, which will be finished for the anniversary year in 2021.”    —La Gazzetta Italiana, April 2020

“Dante’s Inferno: Navigating the Complexities of Hell in As Above, So Below

These words scrawled across the walls beneath the Paris Catacombs mark the entrance to Hell for the characters in As Above, So Below. They herald in a nightmarish final act. The very same words that mark the gates to Hell in writer Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, the first part of his epic poem of Divine ComedyInferno tells of Dante’s journey through the nine circles of Hell, guided by the Roman poet Virgil. Their journey begins on Good Friday, and the pair emerges from Hell early on Easter morning under a starry sky. Though As Above, So Below draws from various mythologies, it’s Dante’s Inferno and its complex rendering of Hell that most closely mirrors protagonist Scarlett Marlowe’s quest, making for an atypical found footage film that offers impressively layered world-building.

[. . .]

The only way out is down. That they descend through a well is significant. Scarlett explains the phrase “as above, so below” is the key to all magic. What happens in one reality occurs in another, presenting a bizarre mirror-like symmetry to their voyage. The group begins by climbing down a well, and they end it by going down another well. In Inferno, wells play a part in getting Dante and his guide to the eighth and ninth circles. Later, Dante and Virgil finally reach the center of Hell and begin their escape by continuing downward. Dante is convinced they’re returning to Hell, only to realize gravity has changed, and they’re climbing up to the surface. Dante, half-way through his life, begins his journey spiritually lost. More than just a guide to Hell, Virgil becomes his guide to virtue and mortal. That’s mirrored in Scarlett, reckless and reeling from the loss of her father, and George, the strict rule-abiding ethical anchor. Much of George’s fear for breaking the law stems from spending time in a Turkish prison before the events of the film, which also parallel’s Virgil in that he detailed his personal trip through Hell in his poem Aeneid. ”    –Meagan Navarro, Bloody Disgusting, April 10, 2020

See our original post on As Above, So Below here.

“A Dante-esque Limbo”: Unemployment Claims in the Wake of the Coronavirus Pandemic

“With a flood of unemployment claims continuing to overwhelm many state agencies, economists say the job losses may be far worse than government tallies indicate.

“The Labor Department said Thursday that 3.8 million workers filed for unemployment benefits last week, bringing the six-week total to 30 million. But researchers say that as the economy staggers under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic, millions of others have lost jobs but have yet to see benefits.

[. . .]

NYTimes-Coronavirus-Pandemic-Unemployment-Dante-Limbo

Photo by Laylah Amatullah Barrayn for The New York Times

“New York has started processing claims from gig workers and freelancers, but one of those, Seth Flicker of Brooklyn, hasn’t had any luck.

“‘Not a phone call nor an email, nothing,’ said Mr. Flicker, 52, who applied in mid-March after his work as a handyman came to a halt. ‘We are stuck with absolutely nowhere to turn,’ he said, calling his situation ‘a Dante-esque limbo.’

“Mr. Flicker was able to delay paying his electric bill without a penalty and sent a check to the phone company, but he is worried about covering May’s rent. ‘I haven’t figured it out yet,’ he said. ‘It’s nerve-racking.'”  –Nelson D. Schwartz, Tiffany Hsu, and Patricia Cohen, “Stymied in Seeking Benefits, Millions of Unemployed Go Uncounted,” The New York Times, April 30, 2020

Contributed by Martin Kavka, Florida State University

Dig In

“Something’s Awry Productions is a small animation studio that has worked with Funny or Die, NBC Universal, Disney, and even LEGO. Now, they have a new animated short they’re trying to make called Dig In about a boy who dives into his giant birthday cake in something reminiscent of Dante’s Inferno.

“‘Dig In is a 7-minute CG animation about a boy who receives a birthday cake so huge that he has to descend through its layers, in the style of Dante’s Inferno, to rescue his pet lizard. He travels through 9 distinct layers of a cake where the stakes get higher as he gets closer to the bottom.'”    –Tommy Williams, GeekTyrant, April 6, 2020

Adam Zgol’s Purgatorio Score

Dante’s Purgatorio Through Music” showcases a piano composition by Adam Zgol (DeMatha High School ’21, Hyattsville, MD), created as an assignment for DeMatha ethics and theology instructor Homer Twigg’s unit on Purgatorio. The composition was presented at the Academic Symposium at Catholic University (Washington, D.C.) in Spring 2020.

The whole composition is available to listen to on Soundcloud.

We thank Adam Zgol and Homer Twigg for their permission to share these files.

Mountain of Purgatory in Minecraft

In 2019, Juniors Jack Batton and Connor Smith of DeMatha High School (Hyattsville, MD) designed a playable Minecraft version of the Mountain of Purgatory as their final project for DeMatha theology instructor Homer Twigg’s unit on the Purgatorio. The mountain is organized by terrace, each labeled with corresponding cantos. The terraces depict figures of the penitents engaged in their purgations; pictured at left is the wall of fire on the terrace of Lust. The project was presented at the Academic Symposium at Catholic University in Spring 2019, and a video walkthrough of the world is accessible on YouTube (last accessed April 24, 2020).

In early 2020, Jonas Long, Chris Allen, Thomas Mesafint, Gray Griffin, Seth Barnes (DeMatha HS) took the original concept developed by Batton and Smith and greatly expanded on it in terms of size, detail and complexity. They also have made their map publicly accessible for other teachers and students of Dante to explore and contribute to in the future. Screenshots (right; below) are of the server, and instructions to access the server can be found here (last accessed April 24, 2020).

We thank the designers and Homer Twigg for their permission to share the documents.

Alison Cornish and Stefano Albertini on Dantedì 2020

In recognition of the first annual Dantedì (March 25, 2020), the director of NYU’s Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, Stefano Albertini, interviewed Alison Cornish, Chair of the Department of Italian Studies at NYU and Acting President of the Dante Society of America. They conducted the interview virtually, during shelter-at-home orders resulting from the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic.

Reflecting on her experience teaching Purgatorio during the pandemic, Cornish comments that Purgatorio is “about community after traumatic separation” (7:34), a community that is recreated through shared cultural rites like liturgy and song, forms of virtual embrace, and collective suffering.

The interview is available to view on YouTube (last accessed April 10, 2020). The comments on Purgatorio can be heard at 6:00-15:34.

Dante and the Wizard of Oz

Comic book: Canto, Vol 1: If I Only Had a Heart by David Booher, Drew Zucker, Vittorio Astone, Deron Bennett (2020)

Canto, IDW’s dark fantasy tale, is a combination of The Wizard of Oz and Dante’s Inferno, in more ways than one. … Canto is very much like The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Canto, the titular tin-man of the story, comes from a race of tin-men, all small and without hearts, who are enslaved and expected to work until they stop. Their hearts have been replaced with clocks, but allegedly, their hearts still exist somewhere, beating and alive. He sets out on a journey to find his beloved’s before the time on her clock runs out, knowing that the quest may be futile. Eventually, he learns he must find the Shrouded Man of the City of Dis, who resides in an Emerald Tower. To reach his destination, Canto follows a yellow brick road. […]    —CBR.com   See also this and this.

#stoacasacondante, Flashmob in honor of Dantedì 2020

The Società Dante Alighieri promoted a flashmob on the first annual celebration of Dantedì (25 March 2020), while Italy and much of the world was under shelter-in-place orders due to the spread of COVID-19. Below, the message from the President of the Società Dante Alighieri, Andrea Riccardi:

“mentre il coronavirus ci tiene separati dai luoghi e dalle persone che amiamo, l’Amore e Dante ci uniscono. La Società Dante Alighieri invita tutti ad aprire le finestre delle proprie case, a leggere due terzine del V Canto dell’Inferno (Divina Commedia), a registrare le letture con gli smartphone e a condividere i video nei social network con hashtag #stoacasacondante e #Dantedì.

“Ecco il testo da leggere: «Amor, ch’al cor gentil ratto s’apprende, prese costui de la bella persona che mi fu tolta; e ‘l modo ancor m’offende. Amor, ch’a nullo amato amar perdona, mi prese del costui piacer sì forte, che, come vedi, ancor non m’abbandona».”  —ladante.it

For news coverage, click here.

Tappeto Volante’s Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso

The theater troupe Tappeto Volante has staged multiple immersive, ambulatory performances of Dante’s canticles in different locations in the province of Salerno. The first, Inferno, was staged in the Grotte di Pertosa-Auletta (also the backdrop for the 2020 musical Inferno, by the Grieco Brothers) and has been running continuously in the Cave of Castelcivita since 2012. They continued with a performance of Purgatorio at the Certosa di Pedula. They return to Salerno for their Paradiso, staged in the Castello di Arechi (promotional poster, right).

The troupe has also performed their Inferno in the Museo del Sottosuolo, and their Purgatorio in the Real Casa Santa dell’Annunziata, both in Naples.

See the Tappeto Volante website for details and reservations.