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Arrigo Lora Totino |Biography

Arrigo Lora Totino

Arrigo Lora Totino (Turin, 1928) is known internationally for his research into experimental, sound, and visual poetry. His activity as a visual poet began in Turin in the early '60s, after his explorations of expressionism, abstraction and the informal in painting. In 1959, together with a number of other letterati, he founded the literary avant-garde magazine ‘antipiùgiù’ with the aim of overcoming the state of literary output at the time, which was largely devoted to either politics or hermeticism. Emilio Villa, Carlo Belloli, Ugo Carrega, Franz Mon, and Chris Bezzel worked together to produce the magazine. Around the mid-sixties, Totino’s interests spread to sound poetry as he travelled between Paris and London. In 1965 he developed an interest in phonic experimentation and recorded his first 'Fonemi' at the Enore Zaffiri Electronic Music Studio. The sound poetry collection has a strong futuristic component, evident in the use of mimodeclamation and onomatopoeia, and as the author says, it is the approach itself that is innovative: "the word becomes nothing more than a pretext for the sound." With musician Enore Zaffiri and painter De Alexandris, he set up the "Information Aesthetics Studio" in Turin in 1964, described by the artist as dedicated to "electronic music and phonetic poetry, as well as research into the plastic-visual, to produce and promote interaction between concrete poetry, programmed music and visual art." The Studio organises exhibitions and meetings on concrete poetry, and works with various cultural institutions (e.g. the Goethe Institute, the Florence Centro Proposte, etc.). In the same year, he and Dietrich Mahlow curated an exhibition at the Venice Biennale titled "Poesia Concreta. Indirizzi concreti visuali e fonetici", representing the broad topic of experimental trends in the field of poetry. The exhibition catalogue is rich in commentary, with an essay on sound poetry by Lora Totino brimming with references to precursors such as Mallarmé, Apollinaire, Khlebnikov, Henri Chopin, Pierre Garnier, and Eugen Gomringer. In 1966, in the wake of the 'antipiùgiú' experience, Lora Totino put together an anthology of concrete poetry called 'Modulo'. It was a magazine dedicated to new languages in the visual arts and communication. The book-objects, a 1969 creation, were called Plastic-verbal situations, and 1000 numbered copies were published at the Studio di Informazione Estetica. The artist perfectly demonstrates his affinity for the series with the work Y.Verbotettura, stating: "My Verbotetture are architectures of words on the surface of the page or in three-dimensional space (in the body of the poem). The idea is to correlate and supplement visual-semiotic values (the typographical sign in its various versions of measurement, character, and intensity) with word values." The fluidity of the spoken event was interpreted as a flowing liquid, and Lora Totino conceived the idea for liquid poetry. In 1968, together with Turin artist Piero Fogliati, inventor of the hydromegaphone, he staged a show of "poetry and liquid music".In 1969, the Vismara Gallery in Milan hosted a performance, again with Fogliati, of the Symphony in various materials, played using everyday materials, such as water, steel, wood, paper, and – of course – the voice. This concert would be held again in 1976 with the Orchestra Siderodiafonica, composed of Sergio Cena and Roberto Musto. In 1974, after the liquid poetry, he presented his gymnastic poetry to the Nuove Proposte Group in Martina Franca. In his gymnastic poetry, Totino brought together movement and word, using mime and vocal elements. In 1979 he founded the sound poetry group Il Dolce Stil Suono, numbering Sergio Cena, Giovanni Fontana, Milli Graffi, Giulia Niccolai, Adriano Spatola, and F. Tiziano among its members. In 1978, under the direction of R. Vitalone, he put on Futura, an anthology of phonetic and sound texts, presenting a number of sound poems from the twenties to the seventies. The sound poetry Futura performance was presented in 1980 in Pavia, Genoa, and Milan. It was performed in Paris in 1982 and was later broadcast in Nero su Bianco, an Italian national broadcasting company transmission. In 1980 he made a video with Valeria Magli, called Poesia Sonora, directed by Cascavilla and broadcast in Nero su Bianco on RAI 2. Also in 1980, and again for Rai 2, he made "Il colpo di glottide" a programme on sound poetry. With Sergio Cena, Lora Totino produced Trilluci di scena in 1986. The following year he produced Futurismo contro Passatismo at the Torino Esposizioni Auditorium. In 1988 he presented a number of works at the Temperature Flegree exhibition, where the Solfatara, the Acropolis of Cuma and the Vanvitelli Lodge at Fusaro came alive with music, poetry and theatre, and at Studio Morra, which hosted his Poesia visuale-concreta exhibition in 1989. He published Verbale 1987 - Fluenti traslati. Concertazione drammatica in quattro tempi 1981 – 1987 (Edizioni Morra, Naples) and in 1989 he edited Storia della poesia sonora in cassette in Baobab for Edizioni Elytra, Reggio Emilia. In 2000 he published his book Luce ombra for Edizioni Il Bulino, Rome. In recent years he has published a number of artists' books in limited editions.

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