“Pleasure Island” by Federico Arcangeli – Book presentation
Via Gioacchino Rossini, 4 - Trieste
Saturday 26 October 2019
15.15 - 16.00
Presentation of the editorial project Pleasure Island by Federico Arcangeli, in dialogue with Enrico Scaglia.
Rimini is a small town on the Adriatic Sea located on the east coast of Italy.
Well-known tourist resort, it has always been considered the capital of nightlife and discos. With its 150,000 residents, in summer it turns into a small metropolis that can accommodate more than 2,500,000 people.
She was the inspirational muse of great artists who described her through their own eyes, such as the local native photographer Marco Pesaresi and his black and white shots, or the great director Federico Fellini, thanks to whom, in the ’70s, made her famous throughout the world with her film Amarcord (I remember). A film that tells the life of the inhabitants of a dreamlike Rimini, continuously suspended between the dreams of childhood and the upsets of adolescence.
It was in the 80’s that discos and clubs experienced their golden age, the great influxes, the VIPs and the ostentation of unbridled luxury, resulting in the 90’s where luxury and strict selections at the entrance gave way to experimentation, the afters, and musical research.
Despite the fact that times have changed and many historical clubs are now irremediably closed, Rimini still knows how to enchant that night people who so desperately yearn for transgression.
This project by Federico Arcangeli, comes to life a bit by chance. Initially born more as a photographic diary of the evenings spent in the club with friends, it becomes a cross-section of an era which is not far from the glories of the past.
Through his lens and his images, he transports us to those places, through that dreamy atmosphere that only “the Riviera” (the coast of Romagna) can offer. With his shots we meet again Fellini’s characters, in grotesque and funny situations, we find couples dancing and squeezing, in loving rituals that last the time of a night fading at dawn, and eternal young people, who as in a small Neverland never grow old.
The painting that is painted of the city is that of a land of toys, sexy, seductive and fascinating, where you let yourself be tempted.
“L’Isola del piacere” (The Island of Pleasure) brought me back to my book “Il distretto del piacere” (The District of Pleasure) published twenty years ago, at the end of the century. That short text had as its topic of study the so-called new “factory” of territorial entertainment that had in Rimini the network pioneering junction. I placed the “naked life” at the heart of the reflection, understood as the emerging propensity to quote emotions, lifestyles and bodies on the market, mediated by the creative professions of the new economy of pleasure, whose intent was to bring new subjects into the entertainment society. A new way of communicating, thinking and desiring was born, then exploded and amplified with the advent of digital media.
As in the past, Federico Arcangeli’s reportage goes into these categories and directs the attention to the representation of bodies.
While with “Il distretto del Piacere” I was a flaneur to investigate the new production system of the entertainment industry and the new merchants of desires, which also accompany us until today, “L’isola del Piacere” is naked life and entertainment as a privileged dimension of life, and leads the thought on the great theme of today’s society.
That’s why I see a continuity of social references between the two books. Although approached with two different and complementary languages, passing from the district to the island of pleasure, both place at the center of the representation the core figure of the “consumer”, who interprets himself within an imaginary inspired by desiring lifestyles, transformed into goods.
“L’isola del piacere” represents them in its many different registers, rituals and trends. The images tell of a new diversification of the social composition of emotions and desire.
It would be desirable, in my opinion, for photography, because of the universality of its lexicon, to become more and more a field of research and a point of view on the real processes of change. In this sense, for example, I think of the other side of the island in the middle of the Mediterranean, the one that, like in a city of Calvino, turns upside down in the naked life of bodies that tries to survive in search of a better place by landing on the coasts of the island of pleasure. Another great question of the moment. Finally, I wonder how a society in which the most spectacular representations are these two dramatic polarities that are both present and abyssally distant can survive.
sociologist and lecturer
founder of AASTER,
socio-economic research consortium
Observer of territorial forms
of contemporary capitalism
Author of the District of Pleasure, 2000
Published by Bollati Boringheri