Leone Contini

A supper, based on a selection of remembered regional recipes collected in a notebook by Italian war-prisoners in Germany during the First World War, is proposed by Italian artist Leone Contini as a reflection memory, conviviality, community and identity. Notions which may need reconsidering in times in which manifold crises go hand in hand with continuous worldwide displacement.



A project for Kunstverein Amsterdam in collaboration with Kunstverein Milano

Kunstverein Amsterdam and its sister organisation Kunstverein Milano are delighted to invite you to an imaginary supper with real food, real table, real Italian cook and real good table conversation especially prepared for you. The Imagined Menu supper on Sunday 7 April 2013 is part of a larger project initiated by Kunstverein (Milano) entitled Food/Corp. on the relationship between culture, food and cuisine. It will therefore be followed up by other similar and different events, meals and visual surveys.

*From a poem written in Cellelager by a prisoner of war from the Lazio region. The dialect seems grammatically odd in Italian and could be translated into English as 'When we ate with our minds' or 'When we ate with our brain'.

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During WWI, in October 1917, the worst military debacle in the Italian history took place. Giosuè Fiorentino was an 18 year-old Italian officer and, together with many others, was taken prisoner and sent to the prison camp of Celle lager, in northern Germany.

The Italian internees experienced displacement, despair and starvation. In Celle lager food was in fact obsessively desired and imagined; Moreover it was the subject of endless discussions. Speaking about food was maybe an attempt to turn a crowd of starving bodies into a community again, able to share memories from the previous life, the peaceful one; An attempt to humanize hunger, to reframe this primary instinct into a sort of - however virtual - conviviality, a collective action of cultural resistance indeed. Giosuè collected these spoken recipes from his fellow prisoners — as memories, records of intimate fragments from their family lives —, and reassembled them into two handmade sketchbooks, a patchwork of regional cuisines, from Friuli to Sicily, an unintended ethnographic writing, picturing the cultural materiality of an “imagined community” called Italy.

This action of resistance, conceived in the deep darkness of the First World War, will be turned into a real, collective action, after 96 years, by the Italian artist Leone Contini, the grand nephew of Giosuè, in the form of a Sunday supper.

LEONE CONTINI (1976, Florence) has studied Philosophy and Cultural Anthropology at the Università degli Studi di Siena. His research - mainly focused on intercultural frictions, conflict and power relations, displacement, migration and Diasporas - borrows the tools of contemporary anthropology in order to short-circuit spheres of common feelings and significance through the use of performing lectures, collective actions, workshops, talks, ethnographic narratives and interventions in public space.

He recently investigated the subsistence agriculture of chinese immigrants in Tuscany; the conflictual heritage on the Italian/Slovenian border; displacement, migration and food in the suburbs of Milan; body-care practices among immigrants in the former Jewish Ghetto of Genova and immigrant enterprises in the working class neighbourhood of Poble Sec, Barcelona.

This project takes place in the context of Food/Corp. a long-term project developed by Kunstverein (Milano) on the connections between culture, food and cuisine and will see other chapters developed in Milan, Italy and elsewhere.

Imagined Menu booklet kv_leone_contini_imagined_menu
Imagined Meny lcontini_menu_immaginato