Arrigo Lora Totino
Arrigo Lora Totino (Turin, 1928-2016) is one of the greatest interpreters and exegetes of international concrete and sound poetry. He is a very well-known and respected performer and has produced numerous publications and recordings connected to the work of neo-avant-garde artists around the world, participating in and organizing festivals, study sessions, events, and sound poetry evenings.
The collaboration and partnership between Arrigo Lora Totino and the Morra Foundation began in the late 1980s when the Turin-based author took part in the “Temperature Flegree” event organized by Studio Morra at the Solfatara in Pozzuoli and the Cuma Acropolis, an event attended by poets and scholars such as Henri Chopin, Lamberto Pignotti, Eugenio Miccini, and Corrado Costa. Here, Lora Totino presented his performance “Fluenti traslati”, for which he published the performance directions in 1988 in a volume of the same title curated by edizioni Morra. A year later, in 1989, Totino repeated the performance of “Fluenti traslati” for his personal exhibition of verbal-visual works held at Studio Morra in via Calabritto.
After this first intense collaboration, Totino took part in a new project organized by Studio Morra curated by Luciano Caruso, “Serate in onore di Cangiullo”, an event dedicated to the Neapolitan Futurist poet Francesco Cangiullo. Totino took part in a round table discussion with Stelio Maria Martini (8 May) and Luciano Caruso, marking the release of the volume “Cangulliana” (Belforte/edizioni Morra, edited by Caruso himself). He also presented a mime declamation performance (9 May) dedicated to the Futurist free-word and pentagrammed tables.
In 2003 he accepted Giuseppe Morra’s invitation to bring one of his own performances to the Morra Foundation’s monographic exhibition dedicated to the Living Theatre: “Labirinti dell’Immaginario” (curated by Achille Bonito Oliva, as part of the “Annali delle Arti” project), held in the Castel dell’Ovo in Naples.
Lastly, in 2014, the Morra Foundation dedicated a solo exhibition to Totino and Henri Chopin as part of the “La scrittura totale/La Parola totale” (“The Total Writing/The Total Word”) project, an extensive and in-depth four-stage exhibition dedicated to authors and international movements linked to visual poetry, a project set up by Giuseppe Morra in the underground spaces of the Library of the Nitsch Museum as part of “Progetto XXI”, supported by the Donnaregina Foundation for Contemporary Arts.
In 2018 the Morra Foundation acquired Totino’s private archive and dedicating a special area to it – the Arrigo Lora Totino Collection – at the Casa Morra Archive of Contemporary Art, entrusting the research and curatorship to Domenico Mennillo.
The Arrigo Lora Totino Collection
The Arrigo Lora Totino Collection contains materials from the artist’s private archive covering a period from 1964 to 2016, the year of the artist’s death in Turin. In line with Totino’s original arrangements, the Collection has been divided into the following sections by theme:
Correspondence; Professional Documents; Printed Papers; Graphic Documentation; Photography; Audio and Video Records; ALT’s Private Library.
The section holds around 3,500 documents including letters, postcards, and e-mails and is dedicated to the exchange between the artist and his numerous correspondents in Italy and around the world. It documents the artist’s numerous interests and varied collaboration with his interlocutors in joint projects covering a period from the early 60s to 2016.
The section is divided into the following three subsections:
1 Correspondence by author (1,900 documents)
This subsection houses the correspondence Totino received from individual artists over the years documenting the various interests shared by the artist and his correspondents. The authors represented mostly belong to the world of the European and international neo-avant-garde: Raoul Haussman, François Dufrêne, Henri Chopin, Bernard Heidsieck, Francesco Cangiullo, Pierre Garnier, Max Bense, Heinz Gappmayr, Carlfriedrich Claus, Jean François Bory, Franz Mon, Carlo Belloli, Dick Higgins, Stelio Maria Martini, Luciano Caruso, Jiří Kolář, Adriano Spatola, Eugenio Miccini, Ugo Carrega, Giovanni Fontana, Sarenco and many others. There are also some of Arrigo Lora Totino’s letters in reply to some received from his interlocutors.
2 Miscellaneous correspondence (1,600 documents)
Communications from a variety of interlocutors are archived here. These are mostly occasional interactions without the long-term continuity that would justify a separate division within section 1.1. The correspondence features directors of public and private museums as well as people organizing festivals and poetry evenings, conferences, and seminars. There are numerous editorial managers, artists, intellectuals, and friends of the artist, among others.
3 Futura Sound Poetry Correspondence (200 documents)
This subsection is dedicated to the preparatory work for the homonymous 1978 box set containing 8 records and an associated printed volume edited by Totino for Cramps Records in Milan. To date, this is one of the most complete publications ever dedicated to world sound poetry. The archive contains letters and documents between Totino and the authors featured in the box set, including Henri Chopin, Bernard Heidsieck, Gerard Rühm, Paul De Vree, Bob Cobbing, Altagor, Carlfriedrich Claus, Ladislav Novák, Adriano Spatola, Patrizia Vicinelli, Maurizio Nannucci.
The section contains the artist’s copious manuscript output together with the study materials necessary for the composition of his theoretical essays, linear and extra-verbal poems, contributions, and critical articles for publication in magazines, periodicals, and catalogues; the section also contains the professional documentation of many artists with whom Totino corresponded. The section does not include ALT’s printed writings, which are contained in the ALT library section.
The section is subdivided as follows:
1 Manuscript or typewritten texts
A collection dedicated to ALT’s individual theoretical works written from the early 1960s to the 1990s, both in manuscript and (in small part) typewritten form;
2 Personal papers
This section collects the artist’s private papers, contracts with publishers and gallery owners, legal documents, etc.
3 Documents by topic
A section dedicated to the collection of mostly photocopied materials put together by ALT mainly for essays and theoretical output; much of the collection contains materials from an unfinished work dedicated to the study of world visual poetry. Many of the photocopied materials contain ALT’s handwritten corrections.
4 Manuscript containers
A collection dedicated to the containers (ready-made or ALT’s own work) originating from the various documents in section 2. Professional documents.
5 Documents from other authors
Documents entrusted to ALT by other artists: printed or manuscript writings, photocopies.
This section is dedicated to materials relating to the artist’s various initiatives in Italy and abroad. It holds about 2,800 documents including invitations, posters, bill-boards and press reviews, and runs from the early 60s to 2016.
The section is divided into three subsections:
The collection contains invitations for exhibitions, poetry evenings, festivals, conferences, and study meetings. The collection has been enriched with the addition of invitations (to ALT’s activities) previously housed at the Morra Foundation. It is in two specific sections.
In order to allow easier and more comprehensive consultation (and in compliance with the general approach and criteria that ALT adopted for his Archive), this subdivided material was further split into a number of additional sections by topic:
Personal invitations (31 documents)
Exhibitions, performances, conferences and personal events held by the artist.
Collective invitations (431 documents)
Exhibitions, performances, conferences and events where Totino took part alongside other artists.
General invitations (484 documents)
Exhibitions, performances, conferences, and events where Totino took part alongside other artists.
Personal MF invitations (11 documents)
Exhibitions, performances, conferences, and personal events by the artist.
General MF invitations (63 documents)
Exhibitions, performances, conferences and events in which the artist took part together with other authors.
The collection contains posters and billboards for poetry evenings, conferences, and study meetings.
In order to allow easier and more comprehensive consultation (and in compliance with the general approach and criteria that ALT adopted for his Archive), this material was further split into two additional sections by topic:
ALT posters (79 documents)
Exhibitions, performances, conferences, and events in which the artist took part; this section covers both the artist’s personal and collective events.
Other Posters (64 documents)
Exhibitions, performances, conferences, and events in which the artist did not take part.
3.3. Press reviews
The section brings together press releases and articles from newspapers, magazines, and printed books. The articles concern ALT’s work or topics and themes relating to his professional interests. The section is subdivided as follows:
ALT press releases (18 documents)
Solely concerning works by ALT.
Other press releases (18 documents)
Press releases relating to ALT’s professional interests, where the artist does not appear directly.
Articles with ALT (237 documents)
The collection largely contains articles in national newspapers that refer to ALT’s work, in addition to articles from Italian periodicals, magazines, and catalogues, as well as (mainly European) foreign newspapers.
Articles from Gazzetta del Popolo (18 documents)
Texts relating to ALT’s brief collaboration with the newspaper Gazzetta del Popolo, with articles penned by the artist between 1978 and 1980 for the “La pagina dell’Arte” column.
Items not mentioning ALT (102 documents)
This collection contains national and international articles that make no mention of ALT.
The section houses original or serial works by the artist and friends with whom he corresponded for the production of shared artistic projects.
The section is divided up as follows:
Graphic works of ALT
A separate section from the one associated with the artist’s private library. It contains the artist’s books numbered and signed by the artist (with publishers or in self-editions), folders containing artwork, or individual works.
Artwork by other artists
This section contains ALT’s collection of materials by other artists: numbered and signed artists’ books (professionally published or self-published), folders containing artwork, or individual works. The selection criterion for all materials is identical to that adopted for the previous section.
A collection containing various materials relating to mail art, with works by ALT himself and other authors’ works that he collected.
A collection dedicated to ALT’s own work, in particular images documenting his performances and exhibition activities, both as artist and as curator; the collection also includes photographs in digital format documenting moments of conviviality with artists and friends.
The section is subdivided as follows:
This section is mostly dedicated to ALT’s artistic documentation, mainly consisting of b/w photos, original films, and slides. The materials document activities carried out in the 70s and 80s.
Photos without ALT
This section contains ALT’s working materials, namely photos and slides of exhibition fittings and organization as well as works by other artists.
Digital photographs with ALT
A collection of mostly private materials belonging to ALT, mostly related in some way to ALT’s working environment. The photographs are in digital format and relate to the 2000s.
The section contains the magnetic tapes and recordings of some of Totino’s important sound works; the audio section also contains Totino’s audio publications, including the important 8-disc box set “Futura Poesia Sonora”, published in Milan with Cramps Records, together with other important vinyl and audio CD publications. It also includes some videos in VHS format that Totino made to document his activity.
The section is divided up as follows:
The collection contains part of ALT’s private library (861 volumes). It has been catalogued by Anna Venuso using the OPAC SBN web platform and can be consulted at (COPIARE COME DA VECCHIO WEB SITE).
The volumes in the collection have been classified as follows:
Monographs on ALT’s oeuvre
Volumes in which ALT’s work appears
Volumes mostly relating to ALT’s professional interests but which do not feature ALT’s work