Marymount University President Irma Becerra, staff and faculty members joined the Ambassador of Italy to the United States Mariangela Zappia at Villa Firenze for a private reception in honor of Italian artists Sara Goldschmied and Eleonora Chiari (Goldschmied & Chiari). The event, hosted on December 6, included the showing of a screendance inspired by the artists’ series MAGNIFICA, currently on view at Marymount’s Cody Gallery.
Ambassador Zappia, Goldschmied, Chiari and Washington Ballet choreographer Mimmo Miccolis made remarks in advance of the screendance premiere, highlighting the strength of their partnership with Marymount University on this project.
MAGNIFICA brings together a nexus of artworks made from murano glass and colored smoke bombs with contemporary dance, couture fashion and pulsing music — fusing together these different mediums to create a four-minute screendance performance.
After the screening, three Washington Ballet dancers emerged through smoke in a surprise live performance for guests. Alongside Dr. Becerra in attendance were Caitlin Berry, Director of Cody Gallery; Dennis Slon, Vice President for University Advancement; Doug Seidler, Director of Marymount’s School of Design and Art; and Bridget Murphy, Professor in the Graphic and Media Design program. Guests also included cultural leaders from both Italian and Washington, D.C., communities.
“This was a truly spectacular performance to watch,” President Becerra said. “There was a cohesive balance between Goldschmied and Chiari’s artwork and the movement performed by the talented dancers. Marymount is grateful to have been invited to join the celebration hosted by Ambassador Zappia and to have showcased the artists’ powerful exhibit at Cody Gallery, providing the opportunity for our students and visitors to experience one of Italy’s greatest contemporary artistic duos.”
The exhibition itself features nine works, including a new series of Goldschmied & Chiari’s iconic ‘Untitled Views.’ First developed in 2014, the artists devised a secret — almost alchemical — technique involving colored smoke bombs whose elaborate billows are captured on film and transferred onto glass and mirrors. When observers stand in front of these works, their own reflections mingle with light, shadows and images of smoke to become a dynamic part of the artwork. The ever-changing interplay of light, objects and the viewers’ own reflections yields a multiplicity of images and meanings — too many for any one title to encompass.
Miccolis, an Italian-born choreographer based in Washington, D.C., draws from this interplay and multiplicity to inspire the movements of the three featured Washington Ballet dancers — Misha Glouchkova, Harry Warshaw and Anna Cole — to bring a new dimension to the push and pull that Goldschmied & Chiari’s work is known for.
“Goldschmied & Chiari’s MAGNIFICA poses trenchant questions about feminine identity, power, modern life and the interplay of these forces and others with the natural world,” Berry explained. “These intersections open rich dialogues across many areas of study, addressing some of the most pressing issues of our society today.”
The exhibition was curated by Allison Nance and organized by International Arts & Artists in partnership with the Embassy of Italy and the Italian Cultural Institute in Washington, D.C. MAGNIFICA is funded by a grant from the Directorate-General for Contemporary Creativity by the Italian Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism under the 2019 Italian Council Program.
MAGNIFICA will be on display at Cody Gallery through December 11. You can experience a behind-the-scenes look into the creation of the screendance below.