50. “Invisible Cities” by Italo Calvino

It’s Spring Break at OCAC, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything going on! This week is the last chance to visit the Hoffman Gallery and check out its current show, “Invisible Cities and Hidden Landscapes.” Don’t miss it!

“A Traveling Exhibition of Books and Book-Related Artworks

March 1-April 1, 2012

Opening reception Thursday, March 1 from 4:00-7:00PM

Devised as an opportunity to promote dialogue between teaching institutions in Britain and The United States, this exhibition investigates the medium of artists’ books. Participants were invited to submit a book of their choice or make one in response to Italo Calvino’s poetic novel “Invisible Cities”. Lecturers, alumni and students contributed to this eclectic collection featuring work from more than sixty artists.

Invisible Cities and Hidden Landscapes embraces diversity, including 3D books, altered found objects and textiles. Opening first at Coleg Sir Gar in Carmarthen in the United Kingdom in September 2011, the exhibition traveled to University of West of England, Bristol before opening here at Oregon College of Art and Craft. The exhibition concludes at Kansas State University.

This not-to-be-missed exhibition features the work of current OCAC students Melanie Brauner, Ruth Bryant, Ava Goldberg, Ruby Kapka, Michelle Latham, Erin Mickelson, Elizabeth Rank, Gwen Stronach; and almuni Rachel Fish and Sue Selby.” From (here)
In honor of this amazing exhibition, the library has selected Italo Calvino’s novel “Invisible Cities” as this week’s library pick. For such a short work, it is packed with incredible imagery. Gore Vidal has been quoted as saying: “Of all tasks, describing the contents of a book is the most difficult and in the case of a marvelous invention like Invisible Cities, perfectly irrelevant” (from The New York Review of Books). We agree with Gore Vidal. It is a book that can’t be paraphrased well, and, you’ll need to experience on your own to understand.

For those readers, who would prefer some kind of description, here’s the publisher’s description:

“Kublai Khan does not necessarily believe everything Marco Polo says when he describes the cities visited on his expeditions, but the emperor of the Tartars does continue listening to the young Venetian with greater attention and curiosity than he shows any other messenger or explorer of his.” So begins Italo Calvino’s compilation of fragmentary urban images. As Marco tells the khan about Armilla, which “has nothing that makes it seem a city, except the water pipes that rise vertically where the houses should be and spread out horizontally where the floors should be,” the spider-web city of Octavia, and other marvelous burgs, it may be that he is creating them all out of his imagination, or perhaps he is recreating details of his native Venice over and over again, or perhaps he is simply recounting some of the myriad possible forms a city might take” from the Publisher.

Check it out! And don’t miss your last chance to check out the amazing book arts exhibition in the Hoffman Gallery this week!


17 thoughts on “50. “Invisible Cities” by Italo Calvino

  1. Thanks for the tip on Italo. I have read quite a few of his books and now I have to get this one. You have a good power of suggestion.
    Tomorrow I post one of my short stories that people say reminds them of Italo’s “Cosmic Comics.” However, when I wrote it I knew nothing of Italo Calvino.
    The title is “An Indecent Descent”

  2. And if you love Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities then you must check out http://www.fictionalcities.co.uk/ which is a blog that reflects on fictional versions of Venice Florence and London in multiple media. It’s nothing to do with me – I’m just a fan.
    Also read Borges’ Library of Babel story and Tlon Uqbar Urbis (think I’ve misremembered that title). All good things to fans of the OCAC blog.

  3. Yet another post that makes me want to be in Portland. I love the writings of Italo Calvino. It would be great to see an exhibit like this one.

  4. Oh my! I agree, to read Invisible cities you have to be in the mood…Or, as I discovered recently, just read one city and let the imagination flow. Draw, if you like to, or sit down with your eyes closed. Maybe with a glass of wine, or a hot chocolate (pleasures are never enough). Then you can read the book on and on…

  5. Pingback: The Spider « accretions of stimuli

  6. Interesting stuff, I found his ” Six Memos for the Next Millennium ” inspirational to my creative practice, his values of Lightness,Quickness,Exactitude,Visibility and Multiplicity still reverberate amongst my inquiries.

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