Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Glass Garden: Of Bees, Glassblowers & Judi Harvest's "Denatured"

Maestro Giorgio Giuman looks on while two of his sons work at Fornace Linea Arianna
Artists always hope that their new shows will generate a buzz. Judi Harvest has assured her new art will--quite literally--by establishing a colony of some 40,000 bees in a garden she's created especially for them in what was once an abandoned lot behind the Linea Arianna glass factory on Murano.

Entitled Denatured: Honeybees + Murano, Harvest's paintings and works in glass, which are concerned with the so-called Colony Collapse Disorder that is annihilating bee populations world-wide and posing serious threat to food production, will be on display at the Scuola dei Battioro e Tiraoro beside the church of San Stae until October 31.  The garden at the glass factory in Murano is intended to go on for much longer than that, and is meant as a concrete practical response to the bee crisis, as well as a means of calling attention to the dwindling number of glass works on Murano.

One large glass bee and 40,000 real bees in the garden of Linea Arianna on Murano created by Judi Harvest
You can read much more about bees, glass, and Judi Harvest's Denatured on her website at: Or watch a video about the creation of the garden on Murano, and about her various collaborators on Denatured, at

Recently, Jen and I were lucky enough to be invited by a kind friend to join her on a private tour of the garden and Linea Arianna. Our guide was il maestro of the furnace himself, Giorgio Giuman, who's worked with a number of architects and artists, among them, Jeff Koons. Giuman was quite enthusiastic about the garden and the bees, pointing out to us the various plants that had been specially selected for the site, the 100-year-old pomegranate tree that had been transplanted there, and the bright colors of the bee boxes--also specially selected according to bees' preferences.

But it was almost high noon when we met and the sunlight was harsh, and hardly ideal for taking pictures outside. Besides, when you find yourself in the company of a master glass blower, it's really not gardening that you want to focus on.

There was really so much to see in the various store rooms he led us through that I'd need to return--with a notepad--to catch it all. There were some of the pop-ish glass flowers he'd made for Jeff Koons, and busts of Barack Obama in various sizes, one of Caesar Augustus, one of Maria Callas, and two others of Othello. There was a huge classical temple, at least 8 feet tall, entirely of glass, whose extraordinary total weight I've now forgotten. There were large chandeliers in the classic Murano style and colors you see, for example, in Ca' Rezzonico: such perfect reproductions that I had to ask him if they were 300 years old or recently made.

A very large temple of glass in one of Linea Arianna's many store rooms
We saw a pallet-load of large boxes, labeled for delivery to an upscale department store chain in America.

He showed us the rather claustrophobic room where silica is mixed with all the others ingredients used to make the dry dusty distinctly unprepossessing compound that becomes, in a process as extraordinary as alchemy, beautiful molten glass. He recalled when arsenic was still used as an important ingredient, and how they used to identify it from other similar-looking powered solids by tasting it with a wet fingertip. A little bit doesn't hurt you, he assured us, but if you were to taste it all the time, day after day, poco a poco you'd be in big trouble. (I found myself wondering how many suspicious "natural deaths" must have occurred in the Murano glass community when arsenic was always at hand.) He confirmed what I'd previously heard: that through World War II a certain yellow of Murano glass was created using uranium.

A worker mixes the silica and other raw materials of glass production to be heated later the same day
He showed us that the ancient art of glass making had entered the computer age, and the computer that controlled the furnaces and displayed their temperature.

A computer monitor displays the temperatures of 3 furnaces
I don't know how much of this is the kind of thing one sees or learns on a standard Murano glass works tour, as I've never been on one. Linea Arianna is off the well-beaten tourist paths of Murano, not far from the little-frequented open-air Sacca Serenella stop. (Even closer to the Serenella stop, on the far side of a weedy open lot, is an unassuming little place--looking rather like a neglected public preschool--whose €10 lunch special I'd like to return to and try). It was all new to me, but perhaps not to anyone else who may be reading this.

In any case, after passing through a room of idle furnaces, we ended up in the large cluttered room where Giorgio Giuman's three sons were busy: working swiftly but with complete self-possession and poise, moving wordlessly from one of two blazing furnaces to this or that work-station, coming together briefly to perform some two-person task with a piece of glowing glass, then separating again; communicating only with glances in a perfectly choreographed routine. Busy as bees.

Some of the glass sculptures and a painting in Judi Harvest's show Denatured
A shelf of Honey Vessels at Denatured; on view until October 31, 2013 beside the church of San Stae

Sunday, July 28, 2013

2,967℉ in the Shade: Murano Glass Artisan

Venice is presently in the suffocating grip of a heat wave, but when I find myself thinking about how miserably hot it is at my desk I remind myself of the glass blower in the photo above, one of Maestro Giorgio Giuman's three sons at Fornace Linea Arianna, whose main workstation is beside a 1,147℃ (or 2,967℉) furnace. To keep hydrated in such conditions he and his brothers each drink 6 liters of water (just over 1.5 gallons) per workday.

Linea Arianna is the furnace that produced artist Judi Harvest's glass designs for her exhibition "DENATURED: Honeybees + Murano", currently on display at the Scuola dei Battioro e Tiraoro beside the church of San Stae. That show, and Linea Arianna, will be the subject of my next post.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Kings of Convenience at Teatro Verde, San Giorgio Maggiore

A nearly full moon rises above Kings of Convenience at Teatro Verde on Tuesday, 23 July
Based upon our concert-going experience of this past Tuesday, I'd like to offer the following two recommendations:

1. If you have the opportunity to attend a performance of any kind at Teatro Verde on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, you should certainly do so. Tuesday was the first time Jen, Sandro and I attended an event there and it's such a beautiful and peaceful venue that we were immediately talking about going to something else as soon as possible. Built in 1952 along an edge of the island out of sight from la piazzetta of San Marco, it is--depending upon whether you'd like to believe or the website of the concert series we attended L.i.VE (Live in Venice)--a classically-inspired ampitheater of either 1,618 or 1,334 seats, respectively.

The performance Tuesday night was part of the second season of the L.i.VE series, running from just 18 July until 27 July, when it concludes with a concert by the American "godmother of punk" Patti Smith.

Erlend Øye, left, and Eirik Glambek Bøe of Kings of Convenience
2. If you have an opportunity to attend a performance anywhere by the Norwegian duo Kings of Convenience, you should certainly do so. Inspired most notably by Simon and Garfunkel, Erlend Øye and Eirik Glambek Bøe put on a marvelous show. The first half of Tuesday night's gig consisted of just those two on acoustic guitars; for the second, they were joined by three other musicians (two of them Italians whom they'd hired in Norway).

If you don't know the music of Kings of Convenience, who have to date released three albums (my favorite being Riot on an Empty Street), here are three video links (all their songs are in English):

1. "Know How" (live, featuring Feist):

2. "I'd Rather Dance with You":

3. "Homesick" live (with its explicit allusion to Simon and Garfunkel):

A pair of rapt concertgoers

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

7 Views of La Festa del Redentore

To dine as these people are beside the water one must set one's table up in the morning
There were over 120,000 spectators at this year's Festa del Redentore on Saturday, according to local papers, and more than 2,000 boats in the bacino. The firework display was quite grand and lasted for 38 minutes, but just a few minutes into it a substitute gondoliere, made anxious by the chaotic boat traffic all around him, returned his four adult passengers and one child to land and requested his full fare of 300 euro. His passengers, understandably enough, took issue with paying so much for so much less than had been promised and things escalated until the gondoliere started physically assaulting the two men of the boating party.

People wonder how tourism might be reduced in Venice--I suppose this particular gondoliere has hit (quite literally) upon one disreputable method. Police charges were filed, and the gondoliere is also facing professional disciplinary action.

I was happily far away from the scene of that crime, however, and all the other jam-packed lunacy of Piazza San Marco this year: safe on Sant' Elena, where all of these pictures were taken.

The band pictured below playing at Vincent Bar on Sant' Elena, Terabona, will also be performing Friday July 26 at the 2nd Sagra di Santa Marta (runs from July 26-29) at the western end of Dorsoduro. I'll have to see them again before I can adequately describe Terabona, but with--among other instruments--trumpet, banjo, mandolin, and stand-up drum kit, their spirited pleasingly-ragged sound is a bit like a collision of traditional mediterranean music with early New Orleans jazz. I think. Whatever it is, I'd strongly recommend checking them out if you happen to see they'll be playing in Venice.

Terabona performs at Vincent Bar

Saturday, July 20, 2013

All That Glitters: The Russian Pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennale

Three would-be Danaë stoop to gather up gold coins in part of Vadim Zakharov's work at the 55th Venice Biennale
I consider myself very lucky never to have had to try to see all, or even much of the Venice Biennale in just one or two days, as many visitors do. I can imagine that the experience of such abundance can be marvelous for some, but I can equally imagine it as a nightmare of overwhelming excess--and, either way, it must be exhausting. Like those runners who complete the New York City Marathon, people who manage to make it all the way through the two main sites of the Biennale (in the Giardini Pubblici and the Arsenale) in just 2 days should really get a commemorative medal.

People like to say that the very idea of the Biennale with its different national pavilions is quaintly old-fashioned, but in the staggering quantity of art on display I find something very contemporary. The Ancients used to say that Life is short, Art is long, but I sometimes think that in the case of most cultural products these days the saying might easily be changed to Life is short, Art is even shorter.

Unless we make a conscious effort to avoid our computers and televisions and hand-held devices, and even public spaces with their ever-present video screens, we're likely to see more images in a single day than many of us would have typically seen 20 years ago in what...? A week? A month? We don't need to compare our contemporary experience to those people who came to the first Venice Biennale in 1895 or make any other inter-generational contrast to see a stark difference in levels of visual experience and information, a consideration of about a decade of own lives will lay it bare.

So it's no longer a question of whether Art (great or otherwise) will "stand the Test of Time," as they used to say; it's hard enough for it to survive the all-annihilating crush of the Present. It's not that the work will, with the august passage of Time, become neglected. It's that the sheer incomprehensible volume of imagery in our daily lives will assure that it's forgotten practically as soon as it's seen.

At least that's what I find myself thinking sometimes, and if this is true, or partly true, or a little true, I wonder about the effect it has on the making of art. What kind of art must one make these days for it to hold some place, for however long, in the mind of a viewer? And--coming back to the Venice Biennale itself--I wonder as I crunch along its gravel paths in the public garden what kind of art best survives the cultural death march that a two-day pass to all the pavilions can easily become?

I suspect that the work of Vadim Zakharov in the Russian Pavilion provides one answer. The main part of the work is, well, fun. It requires audience participation, women visitors get to use specially-provided props and even receive a small durable shiny souvenir to take away with them.

The subject is mythological and announced in large letters in the main room of the pavilion: Danaë, the sequestered daughter of an ancient king who was impregnated by Zeus in a shower of gold (to give birth to Perseus). Though it's not mentioned anywhere in the explanatory--overly-explanatory, I'd say--text of the exhibition, the king isolated his daughter after being told by an oracle that a son born to her would kill him. Like nearly all attempts to outsmart one's Fate in myth, the king's ploy failed utterly.

Rembrandt's Danaë
It's been a popular theme in art, usually with luxuriously erotic overtones, and Titian, Correggio, Rembrandt and Klimt all famously painted it (at least 5 times in Titian's case). An image of Rembrandt's work, in its acid-damaged state after a madman attacked it at the Hermitage in 1985, is used in Zakharov's work--but it's easy to miss and, to be honest, contributed little to my sense of the piece, regardless of the insistence of the exhibition's official supporting materials that it should.

It's the simple experience of this work that one remembers. In an unlit room ("womb-like" the exhibition text tells us) of the lower floor of the pavilion, women (and only women) are invited by a female attendant to take an umbrella and venture through a rough-hewn doorway into a larger columned adjoining room lit by a large skylight high above. A mass of gold coins lies in the center of this room (as you can see in the photo) and more coins fall at irregular intervals and in varying amounts from what looks like a huge shower head attached to the center of the skylight.

But women aren't just supposed to stroll beneath the falling coins like Christopher Robin in Winnie-the-Pooh saying "Tut, tut, looks like rain," nor strike any of the alluring poses one sees in any of the famous painted versions of Danaë, but, rather, pick up some of the coins and carry them back out into the darkened first room, where a bucket at the end of a rope is waiting to receive them. A bucket that happens to be situated atop a dark circular monochromatic image of Rembrandt's damaged painting, which no one (including myself) notices, as it's really too dark to make it out unless you've read the school-marmish text and go looking for it.

Klimt's Danaë
Meanwhile, in the central room of the floor above, other visitors can kneel upon crimson kneelers that surround every inch of the altar-rail-like balustrade and look down upon the scene below. Yes, Zakharov is serious about reinjecting an air of religiosity back into this old myth in a way we contemporary folks can understand... I don't know how successful he is with most viewers on that score, but the way the light falls from above on the coins and the space and people below is nicely, memorably theatrical.

To one side of this central upstairs room is a stern fellow in a suit whose job it is to periodically haul the bucket with coins up from the darkened room directly below through a hole in the floor and pitch its contents onto a conveyor belt that carries them to the giant shower head.

On the other side of this central upstairs room is another stern fellow in a suit seated high in a saddle upon a beam who periodically lets peanut shells fall into a large pile below him. Occasionally he strikes a Thinker-like pose up there, and the exhibition text in fact straight out tells us that he is indeed a contemporary version of Rodin's celebrated Thinker, and instructs us on the meaning of this tableau, but I pretty quickly found myself sick of being bullied by the exhibition's official text and its blandly allegorical inclinations.

Saddled up for thought
Periodically, these two stern fellows upstairs switch positions in a serious militaristic changing-of-the-guards kind of way--if the changing of the guards was performed by two salesmen from a Hugo Boss boutique.

There are also a couple of large satellite dishes outside the front of the pavilion whose significance we are lectured about in the exhibition's supporting materials. None of which, you may have gathered by this point, I found very interesting, though the themes of the work (according to the materials)-- greed, lust, desire, the corrupting influence of money--certainly should be interesting. And, indeed, such themes are interesting--in other works of art. But in 3 visits to this pavilion on 3 different days, I've yet to find any of them particularly well-handled here. 

In an interview in the catalogue on display at the exhibition, I happened to flip to a page on which the artist states, "I have lived in the West for 15 years and in all that time have been understood by only five people." Though the artist is accomplished, well-respected, intelligent, I still found myself thinking of Chekhov's various self-proclaimed deep thinkers--Vanya, for example--misunderstood out in the sticks...

But though it did very little for me as a work of art, inspired (for me) none of the play of mind that I associate with really interesting and successful art, it gave every appearance of working quite well as spectacle and experience. I don't know how many others will find themselves moved by it, intrigued or provoked, incited or excited, but I suspect that even after a long day at the Biennale, when one's legs have gone all leaden and one's mind all cotton-wooly, it will be remembered. And perhaps, after all, regardless of any meaning--and the artist's insistence on it--that alone is sometimes enough.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Teatro Marinoni Revisited, Part 2

Green fiberglass roof panels cast a subaqueous light over the upper flights of Teatro Marinoni's stairwell
Regardless of the improvements that those who occupy Teatro Marinoni have made to the grounds around the building (visible in Part 1 of this post), or to the inside (in this post), their basic situation remains unaltered. As one told me last week, "[Mayor Giorgio] Orsoni pretends not to know a thing about the situation. As far as he's concerned, the question of whether the city had a right to sell a property designated for public use by the man who gifted it has never even been asked, and we, and the events we put on, and the people who attend them don't exist."

Moreover, no matter how many children may attend, for example, a Saturday workshop on germinating seeds, Teatro Marinoni's occupants know that Lido itself is notoriously conservative, with traditionally little interest in more "utopian" or "artistic" projects--in spite of its famous film festival which, after all, is all about glamor and big money. This is not the Santa Marta section of Venice, nor the neighborhood of San Francesco della Vigna: two areas proud of their traditional leftist inclination which might embrace the occupants' aim of converting the building into the cultural center they say Dr Mario Marinoni intended it always to be. Indeed, I get the feeling that the bulk of the project's supporters come from Venice proper, not Lido.    

What difference a year makes: a first floor room above the auditorium of Teatro Marinoni last week and...
But just after I posted Part 1 on Teatro Marinoni, with the feeling that this occupation of the building would almost certainly be a Utopian interlude before the entire complex was transmogrified into the kind of private tourist-oriented resort that Venice actually has little need of and which would do absolutely nothing to address the emptying out of Venetians from Venice--its hospitality-industry wages likely to be enough to allow its employees to live in Mestre, not in Venice or in Lido--I ran into a friend who told me that Est Capital, the corporation that purchased the old Ospedale al Mare complex in 2010, was having serious financial problems.

How serious? I asked.

Serious enough, he said, that it was trying to sell off parts of the Ospedale al Mare complex.

...the same room as it appeared in January 2012
Now, when I first visited Teatro Marinoni in January of 2012, its occupants were older than those I encountered last week: closer to 40 (and over 40), than to 20, like those who now live there. The older members of the group are still involved, but it seems to be only 20-somethings who are there full time. Last year this older group spoke of converting the entire complex into an international arts center, with a community center at its core. 

Perhaps this big vision still exists, but the younger occupants I spoke to last week gave me the impression of trying to save the Teatro Marinoni building alone from any eventual private commercial development. After more than a year of making little progress with the city, they seemed to know that it would be a miracle if they could pull off just this. 

"We have no money," a young man told me. "We can scavenge building materials from the other abandoned buildings in the complex, we have a gas generator, and we are trying to build a wind-powered generator system, but it's all very hard. " Then he asked me, "Do you know people?" As we were speaking Italian I wasn't sure I understood his question correctly. I took it in its most general sense, and said I did. I said I knew people in Venice, if that's what he was asking, and of course also from the US....

But what he wanted to know is if I knew anyone with money who might help develop their project. That was a harder question to answer--and is of course, the question, as the city of Venice has no money, nor any interest in developing Teatro Marinoni into a cultural center. Of course a small fraction of the billions of dollars in public funds that have been poured into what has just been uncovered as the MOSE swindle run by the Consorzio Nuova Venezia would probably have been enough to work wonders with the Teatro Marinoni building itself, but that's not the kind of project that is going to get funding these days in Venice. And if it did, the contract for doing so would most certainly be put into the hands of a well-connected private contractor (some Venetians would simply say "mafia" at this point) who would milk it for everything it was worth.

So this is where things stand at this point: perhaps Teatro Marinoni could be bought back from the financially-troubled Est Capital and turned into a cultural center, but those who would do so have no money for it, and those who might have the money have not the least interest in things like cultural centers.

Does this mark a significant change in the situation from where things stood a year ago? Is it cause for any hope? I don't know. Perhaps it's a little like asking whether you'd say that the stairwell at the top of this post is half-light or half-dark; whether you think of its stairs as going up or down.

A million-euro view of the Adriatic from a make-shift music room
A room with a little privacy...
...and another with none
Much of building has come to resemble an art school facility...
...or a Biennale pavilion
"An apple a day...": this may have been intended as a comment on youth drug culture, but I can't help but think of those older people I know whose various conditions necessitate their taking an array of prescriptions each day "to keep the doctor away"
Trompe l'oeil: A photo of a vintage image of Teatro Marinoni (in its old tuberculosis sanitarium days) upon a peeling wall attached to an actual peeling wall
Those who would have been pushed in the pram when the publications inside it first came out are now old enough for the heavier-duty chair beside it
Some of the many derelict buildings of the ex-Ospedale al Mare complex seen from the roof of Teatro Marinoni

Saturday, July 13, 2013

"Venice Trembles": MOSE Corruption Arrests

"Rigged contracts," the headline reads, "Mazzacurati Arrested: Venice Trembles"
I ran into a Venetian architect friend yesterday evening who was in an unusually gleeful mood: "Have you heard the news?" he asked. "The director of MOSE has been put in jail! It's about time," he continued, "I've waited 15 years for this!"

The man he was referring to was Giovanni Mazzacurati who, until just a couple of weeks ago, was the president of Consorzio Venezia Nuovo, the huge conglomerate of businesses responsible for building the controversial, over-budget and behind-schedule gates in the inlets between the Adriatic and the lagoon that are supposed to protect Venice from high tides. 

My architect friend had resigned from one of his former positions in disgust over being repeatedly asked to sign off on fraudulent construction contracts cooked up by Mazzacurati. He said he'd reported the illegalities, but nothing had ever been done about them--and he imagined nothing ever would.

But all that suddenly changed yesterday afternoon, when Mazzacurati and 13 others were arrested for rigging contracts and other illegalities related to the Consorzio's multi-billion euro cash cow, the MOSE project. A project which for the last decade, as I happened to mention in a post last Sunday (, has absorbed massive amounts of money that once would have gone to maintain the city of Venice.

Considering the amount of money tied up in the MOSE project, and the project's importance to the survival of Venice, I've been surprised not to find more coverage of the arrests and the huge ongoing almost peninsula-wide investigation of the scandal in the English language press: I've seen nothing, for example, in The New York Times, nothing in The Guardian... Here's a link to one short English language report:

My architect friend said, "Mazzacurati must have known something was going to happen soon--that's why he just resigned as president of the Consorzio."

It seems that everyone in Venice knew, or at least strongly suspected, what was going on with MOSE; the shock is that the authorities have actually done anything about it--and on such a large scale. And so my favorite headline of the local papers alludes to Visconti's Neo-realist masterpiece about poor Sicilian fishermen, La terra trema, or The Earth Trembles. One might suppose that Venetians would be trembling in rage and indignation to discover--or have confirmed--that the Consorzio Venezia Nuovo, entrusted with the survival of their legendary city, has used the opportunity for the most cynical profiteering. Perhaps. But given the far-reaching nature of the investigation, and the fraud, I think it's safe to say that more than a few Venetians may be trembling at the prospect of their own arrest.

[Part 2 of "Teatro Marinoni Revisited" will be the next post--as this news couldn't wait.]

Friday, July 12, 2013

Teatro Marinoni Revisited, Part 1

A view of Teatro Marinoni from its balcony
A lot has changed at Teatro Marinoni on Lido since I first wrote a post about it in January 2012 ( nothing has changed.

Teatro Marinoni is a part of the large Ospedale al Mare medical complex on the northeastern end of Lido. Devoted to the treatment of tubercular patients for most of the 20th Century, a very few of the buildings were still in use--my son saw an optometrist there just over a year ago--when the city of Venice sold the whole property to Est Capital in 2010 for 94 million euro.  Est Capital had previously bought the famous Hotel Des Bains (the setting of Mann's Death in Venice) in order to convert it into luxury condos (still in process), and has similarly "exclusive" beach-front development plans for the ex-Ospedale.

The problem with these plans, and the sale, is that the hospital complex includes Teatro Marinoni, pictured above, which was funded by Dr Mario Marinoni and designated as a gift to the residents of Venice to be used in the interests of the public good. Therefore, a group of Venetians has argued since the fall of 2011, Teatro Marinoni cannot be sold to a private developer without expressly violating the terms of Dr Marinoni's bequest.

Late in 2011 some Venetians began occupying Teatro Marinoni, not only living in it as "squatters," but developing an entire program of free public events--musical performances, dance, theater, and workshops of every kind for both adults and children--that would be in keeping with Marinoni's original vision of the space as dedicated to public well-being and community building. These events continue and the group's commitment to them is unchanged.

One of the things that has changed since I first wrote of the place is those few buildings that were still in use at the time of my original post have now been abandoned as well. And I mean abandoned as people are wont to abandon buildings when a tidal wave is heading their way, or a zombie apocalypse, with all kinds of personal and medical materials left behind (including x-rays and records), as you can see in the recently-taken photos on the following Polish blog:

The western exterior of Teatro Marinoni at high noon, with its recently boarded-up windows
Another thing that has changed is that the large garden courtyard and driveway to the west of Teatro Marinoni was torn up last spring, as you can see in the photos above and below. Depending upon whom you talk to, this was done either because there was a legitimate concern that the area might be contaminated with asbestos, or because the premise of such contamination was an excellent way of funneling a huge contract for the job to a well-connected company. Either way, no contamination was discovered and the area now serves as a sunken campground.

Tent, beach chair, and a salvaged massage table in the middle of what was once a garden courtyard
A third thing that has changed is that the windows on the ground floor of the building where the theater is situated were boarded up by il comune for reasons of "security." I'm not sure exactly how city officials would have defined this "security," but a young woman I spoke to who lives in Teatro Marinoni said that if all those boards ruined the view from the theater, they at least gave the squatters a sense of privacy and even of protection.

Some of the derelict buildings of the ex-Ospedale al Mare
Meanwhile, the inhabitants of Teatro Marinoni have been busy themselves. When I first visited, their focus was, understandably enough, on fixing up the inside of the building, but in recent months they've cultivated the eastern side, or sea side, of the property. With neither running water nor electricity inside the building, all food preparation and cooking is done outside, near a kitchen sink constructed beside the property's only water spigot, and a vegetable garden. The photos below show the outdoor accommodations, constructed in an area I remember as being an inhospitable mess of scrub. 

But for all of the changes I've mentioned, nothing about the status of Teatro Marinoni has changed since I first wrote of it in January 2012. The property remains in private hands and the residents occupy it illegally, tolerated by the police--who regularly pass by the property at night--and by city officials. But more about that, along with photos of the inside of the building, in the next post, Part 2.

The view east, toward the Adriatic

The outdoor kitchen sink
The outdoor dining room, which includes a gas stove
"Banano, Banano," the sign says, "qui cresci forte e sano." [Banano, Banano, here you grow strong and healthy]