Kat Mustatea, Voidopolis (2020)

@kmustatea on Instagram (January 30, 2021)

Voidopolis is a digital performance about loss and memory that is currently unfolding over 45 posts on my Instagram feed (@kmustatea). Started July 1, 2020, it is a loose retelling of Dante’s Inferno, informed by the grim experience of wandering through NYC during a pandemic. Instead of the poet Virgil, my guide is a caustic hobo named Nikita.”   –Kat Mustatea

Featuring a Dantesque cast of characters ranging from the Virgilian Nikita to a mohawked Minos, a gruff ferryman named Kim and a withdrawn George Perec, Mustatea’s Voidopolis weaves through the pandemic-deserted streets of Manhattan, a posthuman landscape of absence and loss, bearing witness to its vanishings. Voidopolis won the 2020 Arts & Letters “Unclassifiable” Prize for Literature, and received a Literature grant from the Cafe Royal Cultural Foundation.

To read more about both the process of the piece and its influences, including Dante, see the interview with Mustatea featured in Dovetail Magazine (2020).

 

Stranded on Purgatory Island

“A Dantean reflection on the ecological disaster of isolation (and why this is not Hell).”  Essay by Filippo Gianferrari (UC-Santa Cruz) for Breaking Ground, July 27, 2020

Carlton Fletcher: “Finding the proper circle in Dante’s hell for the deserving”

fletcher sig.jpg“In the classic poem The Divine Comedy, finished in 1320 by Italian poet Dante Alighieri, Dante made note of the nine circles of hell that he visited during what had to have been a fever dream.

“In doing so, Dante left the perfect vehicle for we mere mortals centuries later to assign the likes of those with whom we’re at odds or others whose abhorrent behavior we find particularly egregious. So, as we close out this most contentious of years — a year we might dump as a whole into the first circle of Dante’s hell — here are a few nominees for various levels of the poet’s underworld.”   –Carlton Fletcher, “Finding the Proper Circle in Dante’s Hell for the Deserving,” Albany Herald, 2020
See the full article here.

COVID-19 and Dante’s Inferno

“Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy is undeniably a timeless classic. Its grand adventure through the nine gates of hell sparks readers with life and interest. It seems like an out-of-place work for a description of our chaotic times, but I believe it is a lot more relatable to us than we might think in the most unlikely of ways. So what can readers take from this classic besides grand allusions to the past?

“Perhaps it is with the old that we can come to better understand the new. Perhaps we can come to a new perspective on the world and its isolated communication due to COVID-19 through this classic. Much like we are now, venturing alone except through the cyberways of technological communication or daily filial visits, Dante with his guide Virgil treaded a path of darkness to the center of hell to understand and experience the dark side of the world. We too traverse a pathway of ‘hell’ not a literal one, of course, but rather a figurative pathway of undiscovered and problematic turmoil for the human condition.”   –Jayden Montalvo, Johns Hopkins Newsletter, 2020

Read the full article here.

Rauschenberg’s Dante in the Time of Pandemic

robert-rauschenberg-modern-inferno

“Dante’s three-part epic poem portrays the journey souls take after death. Essentially a socio-economic commentary on Florentine life, with strong moral undertones and focus on the human condition, its themes can be adapted to any time. Today, in the face of Covid-19, the 700-year-old Commedia resonates strongly. Now is a perfect time to reflect on the work through its visual depictions. Although countless artists have illustrated the work since its medieval publication – Sandro Botticelli, Gustave Doré, and John Flaxman, to name a few – modern artists have shown how its relevance lives on to this day. Perhaps the most progressive modern rendering of Dante’s epic to date is seen through the work of artist Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008).

“Dante is ambiguous in his writing on the Sodomites, reflecting the reticence surrounding the subject of homosexuality in his day. Rauschenberg mirrors this ambiguity in his illustration with an empty speech bubble beneath a red outline of his own traced foot. The tracing inserts Rauschenberg into the narrative just as Dante the Poet occasionally appears in the text, separate from Dante the Pilgrim, a personal touch that is seldom seen in Commedia illustrations.” [. . .]    —Flora Igoe, The Art Story Blog, 2020

See Rauschenberg’s full Inferno series here.

 

“Will Coronavirus Continue to Hold SEC Football Hostage?”

“A fall without college football sounds like the wickedest episode of the ‘The Twilight Zone’ or maybe even one of Dante’s nine circles of Hell.”    –Terry J. Wood, Fayetteville Flyer, July 28, 2020

“6 Downtown Dallas Museums Unveil Plans to Reopen After COVID-19 Shutdown”

“All exhibitions that were on display when the museum closed have been extended, and the special exhibition For a Dreamer of Houses, which was to have opened on March 15, will be available for view with the purchase of an additional ticket. It will now remain on view until July 4, 2021. Also opening on August 14 will be Dalí’s Divine Comedy, which showcases selections from Salvador Dalí’s most ambitious illustrated series: his colored wood engravings of the Divine Comedy.”    –Alex Bentley, CultureMap, August 10, 2020

Olivia Holmes and Véronique Plesh on Purg. 19 for “Canto per Canto”

“Dante has a strange dream in which he is visited by a Siren, who is not all she seems. Professors Olivia Holmes and Véronique Plesh unpack this strange apparition and the many ups and downs in this canto, as Dante reaches the terrace of the avaricious and the prodigal, where the souls, including a former Pope, lie facing the ground to atone for their sins. Olivia and Véronique reflect on what the opposition between movement and stasis means for us, living in the confinement of Covid-19 precautions, and consider the racist paradigms of beauty and virtue that underpin Dante’s vision in Purgatorio 19.” – Kate Travers

Watch or listen to the video “Purgatorio 19: Stasis and Motion: False and True Images” here.

Canto per Canto: Conversations with Dante in Our Time is a collaborative initiative between New York University’s Department of Italian Studies and Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, and the Dante Society of America. The aim is to produce podcast conversations about all 100 cantos of the Divine Comedy, to be completed within the seventh centenary of Dante’s death in 2021.

Dante at the Innovation in Music Conference

“The annual Innovation In Music conference in London recently saw Audinate’s Dante help deliver a first of its kind performance, according to audio engineer Dr Paul Ferguson.

“The conference is an international music event that brings together researchers and professionals  shaping the future of the music industry. The event welcomes academics, artists, producers, engineers, music industry professionals, and manufacturers to come together and hear presentations and discussions on a wide range of topics. The most recent conference was held at the University of West London’s Ealing Campus and covered a number of topics including music production, performance and composition, studio technology innovation, and platforms for music sale, streaming and broadcast, to name a few.

[. . .]

“‘Unfortunately, the COVID-19 virus has brought a new perspective to performing, and for gigging musicians, this GPS clock capability potentially allows musicians to safely connect and collaborate over hundreds of miles,’ added Ferguson. ‘What happens when artists want to do their next album or collaborate with others? Until our work lives return to normal, this presents an excellent, next-best-thing-to-being-there option. And even after the ban is lifted, this will be an economical and efficient way to bring creativity together over great distances.'”    –Daniel Gumble, Installation, June 9, 2020

In this case, the reference is to DANTE, the AV networking protocol (Digital Audio Network Through Ethernet). The acronym and the image of the circles (as well as some of the marketing around Audinate’s Dante and related products) play on the name and fame of the poet.

Dante Labs Offers Whole Human Genomes for Coronavirus Research

“Dante Labs, a world leader in whole genome sequencing and data analysis, today announced the first part of its program to support global scientific research on Coronavirus, offering free genome sequencing services to research projects on Coronavirus.

[. . .]

Dante Labs will provide free whole genome sequencing services to research projects related to Coronavirus, to sequence individuals affected with the virus. In the first part of the project, the company will provide free whole genome sequencing for 200 individuals.

‘This is only the beginning of the program,’ Dante Labs CEO Andrea Riposati declared, ‘We are receiving support from some selected partners to expand the program to thousands of samples worldwide. At Dante Labs, we thought hard about how we could help society in this emergency. We chose to donate to science what we do best: the whole genome. Genomic studies on Coronavirus can help us defend ourselves against this threat as well as the next one.'”    —Business Wire, March 11, 2020