Does culture generate quality of life?

Does culture generate quality of life?

If you were to make a film of a regular day in your life, it might be pretty dull. As Andrea Carandini, a senior professor at Rome's Sapienza university and member of the cultural direction of Florens 2012, says, ‘Our lives are boring!' Thus, to offer ourselves an

Thu 11 Oct 2012 12:00 AM

If you were to make a film of a regular day in your
life, it might be pretty dull. As Andrea Carandini, a senior professor at
Rome’s Sapienza university and member of the cultural direction of Florens
2012, says, ‘Our lives are boring!’ Thus, to offer ourselves an alternate
reality, a dream, something else to think about, we go to the movies, read a
book or see an exhibit. Culture, Carandini affirms, improves our quality of
life. For this reason, it deserves preservation and generation, study and


Culture, Quality of Life is the provocative theme of
Florens 2012, an event that runs from November 3 to 11, 2012. Florens
2012 broadly defines ‘culture’ to include, along with literature and art, also
artisan production, design, ‘Made in Italy,’ film, music, couture fashion, landscape
and gastronomy, which makes the programme interesting for just about everyone.


Three thematically related installations with a strong
and exciting visual impact on the city are the part of Florens likely to
involve the largest public. Piazza Santa Croce will host a site-specific work
by contemporary Italian artist Mimmo Paladino, consisting of blocks of marble
of heights ranging from 2 to 4 meters, each carved with archaic symbols and
faces, and arranged in the shape of a crucifix. For the 10 days it will be in
the piazza, Paladino’s work will suggest a form of urban requalification in one
of Florence’s most important squares, which has suffered from blight in recent


The cross is also the theme of an exhibit in the
Baptistry that will offer the unprecedented opportunity of comparing works by
three Renaissance masters. In an arrangement previously only imaginable online,
images of Christ on the Cross sculpted by Donatello, Brunelleschi and
Michelangelo will be together under one roof-the domed, mosaic ceiling of the


Those who experienced Florens 2010 will remember the
day on which a lush, green lawn appeared in piazza Duomo. This year, an olive
grove will stand in Florence’s most famous piazza for the duration of the
event. The installation will include more than 70 centuries-old olive trees,
which suggest not only a Christological theme connected to the Crucifix exhibits,
but also the theme of landscape and the value of local agriculture. Olives are
one of the main features of the Tuscan landscape and are an important,
sustainable part of the region’s economic development.


Palazzo Vecchio will be the site for conferences,
roundtables and keynote speeches by hundreds of Italian and international
speakers. Three days will be devoted to the International Forum on Cultural
Heritage and Landscape (November 8-10), each day with a specific thematic
focus. On Saturday, November 10, for example, speakers from Australia, Germany,
France, the United Kingdom, Libya, India and other nations will explore the
interesting question of what generates a creative atmosphere in a city. Other
sections of the packed program will focus on such themes as ‘smart’ cities,
gourmet foods, creative industries, and film and literature festivals. We can
also look forward to the première screening of a film by National Geographic, a
marketplace of artisan and gastronomic delicacies, and the Salone del Restauro
(November 8 to 10), a specialized trade show on restoration at the Fortezza da


To accommodate those who work during the day, Florens
2012 includes evening events: every day at 6:30pm there will be ‘cultural
aperitifs’ in Palazzo Vecchio, where attendees can exchange reflections on the
day’s sessions. There will be six keynote speeches at 9pm: author Alberto Asor
Rosa, speaking on ‘The Defense of Territory and Landscape’; archaeologist
Andrea Carandini on ‘What is Culture?’; artist Mimmo Paladino on ‘Art and
Public Space’; architect and designer Gaetano Pesce on ‘Quality of Life is
Culture’; ecologist Vandana Shiva on ‘Cultivating the Future’; and
constitutionalist Gustavo Zagrebelsky on ‘The Three Columns of Society:
Politics, Economics, and Culture.’ Held in the Salone de’ Cinquecento, these inspiring
lectures are expected to attracts crowds, so get there early for a seat!


In keeping with the belief that culture makes life
better and that everyone can contribute to and access this culture, all Florens
2012 events are free. However, registration (online at or in person) is required for the talks in Palazzo Vecchio.


Can’t attend all the events? Watch it in online
streaming and participate in the conversation on Twitter (the official hashtag
is #florens2012).

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