The immaterial colorworks of great mosaics

Jennifer Scappettone

This piece is drawn from the ls major work of Futurism's founder, Venezianella and Studentaccio -- a self-proclaimed "aeronovel or aeropoem" of 125 pages, and a rare example of experimental narrative in modern Italian literature. Dictated to his wife Benedetta, daughters, and colleagues in Venice in 1943-44, in the mides of grave illness and a world and civil war, F. T. Marinetti's virtually unpunctuated epic of "words in freedom" revisits, and revises the aesthetic and ideological foundations of Futurism. It imagines rebuilding and outmoded, feninized and culturally heterogeneous cosmopolis the movement once proposed to destroy -- in the form of an inhabitable female colossus of Murano glass.


Glassblowers and glasshandlers students in pink green orange blue caps and pigeons on goldverdured hills palpitate wings screeches feathers leaflets and a ruckusing thick

A path is carved where nearly sprinting springing forth Turkish slippers or relay doves Venezianella healed emerges from the gondola cabin in crimson flecks and enters St. Mark’s like the essential detail of that sculpted architecture

Hot now and with newly polished amaranthine whiskers the living Golds of the basilica pant & sweat with stupor admiration lust

The solemn enrobing of Venezianella begins

Everyone knows the whole city labored labors day and night at the pleated mosaic of her hips

The frescoes with hooked noses want to sniff the delicacy of the lacelike loggias and of the gossamer marble lacework that will veil her shoulders

A saint with ebony face and skyblue turban declares

—Venezianella I want the sparkling fringe of your skirt that burns me with envy

When the Neapolitan coralfishers have accomplished the thickening of porphyry blood and jocund lips toward an ever more virile rutilation of the garment the lovely Lagunar matrons enter mother-of-pearly sheathed and with plump silken hands minister to the twisted embroideries of Loveremembrance in soft orange tones

While an ogival window has filled to the brim with sun at dusk as with so many dying incandescent devils a swashing to the feeble tintinnabulations of rosary beads ushers in the abstract and turquoise elegance of the forces of asceticism anxious with tremulous candor

Austere and strong that is to say willful sacrifice that is to say threatening absence and present flight penetrates the reconciling temple famished again

The badmouthers insist that St. Mark’s Square has been the worldly salon of European gossip for centuries

Today its most representative players that is the pigeons flown to the cornices make like spectators at the marble rendezvous paths of the Plaza metamorphosed into a fervid workshop of mosaics and as much as Negrone and the futurist glassmakers may order and teach it is the little stones and chiseling hammers that take command stipulating arrangements and refinements

Copper furnaces redouble the admonishments of the fire higher and higher up to where turquoise comes from the Bosphorus in a tartan or paranza boat declares itself High Calligrapher and Master of passionate idealisms branded virilities and crystals percussed by flashing bolts of light...

To read the rest of this translation, purchase issue 27.2 here.