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“Invisible Cities” by Italo Calvino: from the novel to the artistic projects

Kublai asked Marco: “You, who go about exploring and who see signs, can tell me toward which of these fu-tUres the favoring winds are driving us.”

“For these ports I could not draw a route on the map or set a date for the landing. At times all I need is a brief glimpse, an opening in the midst ofan incongruous land- scape, a glint oflights in the/og, the dialogue oftwo pas-sersby meeting in the crowd, and I think that, setting out from there, I will put together, piece by piece, the perfect city, made of fragments mixed with the rest, of instants sepa,.ated by intervals, of signals one sends out, not know- ing who ,.eceives them. If I tell you that the city towa,.d which my journey tends is diJContinuous in space and time, now scattered, now more condensed, you must not believe the search fo,. it can stop. Perhaps while we speak, it is rising, scattered, within the confines ofyour empire,” you can hunt for it, but only in the way I have said. ”

Already the Great Khan was leafing through his atlas,over the maps of the cities that menace in nightmares and maledictions: Enoch, Babylon, Yahooland, Butua, Brave New World.

He said: “It is all useless, ifthe last landing place can only be the infernal city, and it is there that, in ever-nar- rowing circles, the current is drawing us. ”

And Polo said: “The inferno of the living is not some-thing that will be; if there is one, it is what is alreadyhere, the inferno where we live every day, that we form bybeing together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and becomesuch a part ofit that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension:seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of the inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.”

Invisible Cities is one of the essential books of Italo Calvino.

Among the many works and projects that have emerged from the reading of this book, we highlight the artistic transpositions of the Invisible Cities:

Invisible Cities illustrated: artist illustrates each and every city in Italo Calvino’s Classic Novel

Invisible Cities illustrated: three artists paint every city in Italo Calvino’s Classic Novel

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