Rome: A City out of Print

Rome: A City out of Print

Rome: A City out of Print

Rome: A City out of Print


"Focusing on images and descriptions of movement and spectacle - everyday street activities, congregations in market piazzas, life in the Jewish ghetto and the plague hospital, papal and other ceremonial processions, public punishment, and pilgrimage routes - Rose Marie San Juan uncovers the social tensions and conflicts within seventeenth-century Roman society that are both concealed within and prompted by mass-produced representations of the city. These depictions of Rome - guidebooks, street posters, broadsheets and brochures, topographic and thematic maps, city views, and collectible images of landmarks and other famous sights - redefined the ways in which public space was experienced, controlled, and utilized, encouraging tourists, pilgrims, and penitents while constraining the activities and movements of women, merchants, dissidents, and Jews." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


Their story begins on ground level, with footsteps.

Michel de Certeau

The ravaged body of Pasquino haunts Rome's urban space (see Figure I.1). Situated within a convergence of pathways, the marble statue remains, after almost five hundred years, an illusory presence among rushing footsteps that come into close proximity only to be dispersed again. People approach from all directions, including the nearby and much frequented Piazza Navona, but do not necessarily stop. When they do linger, it is usually to consider the anonymous notes and verses that sometimes are still found attached to the ancient statue or the nearby walls, some recently posted, others fading or peeling away. On occasion, the proliferation of these sardonic and scornful messages compels pedestrians and even motorcyclists, in spite of direction or speed, to come to a sudden halt. Certainly Pasquino's own disintegrating body cannot hold passersby in place for long, and even in these days of zealous art conservation there is little concern for its future. Ironically, it is the statue's ruinous body that has enabled Pasquino to speak to the present. His many disguised voices constantly bring urban space into the moment by revealing its conflicts and contradictions, and producing, in the words of Henri Lefebvre, “both its worst and its best … as prodigal of monstrosities as of promises (that it cannot keep).”

The representation of Pasquino (see Figure I.2) within a set of prints published in Rome in 1621 offers the opportunity to consider the crucial relation between the statue's fading corporeality and the time and space of the street. Images of Ancient Statuary of the City of Rome presents a sequence of Rome's most celebrated ancient statues and through their reconstruction projects a fantasy of bodily coherence and perfection. Pasquino dwells uneasily within this vision of Rome. The print itself is barely stitched together, revealing its various revisions as well as the statue's own multiple appropriations. Horns and whips are still visible at the foot of the statue, but these belong to another Pasquino, one associated with clandestine forms of poetry rather than archaeological reconstruction. The accumulation of sarcastic messages around the statue . . .

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