Interdisciplinary Futurism at Tate Modern

Monday 13 February, 12-2 pm, a Tate Modern Workshop at Tate Exchange

Join us in London, at Tate Modern, on Monday 13 February for an interactive workshop on Italian Futurism. The event is part of Interdisciplinarity in the classroom, a range of projects and activities with teachers and schools which will take place throughout the life of Interdisciplinary Italy and beyond.

When Filippo Tommaso Marinetti published the Manifesto of Futurism, in 1909, he put Italy back on the map of European and International art and culture. Of course Italy had a very illustrious cultural tradition: it had been for centuries a place of undisputed excellence in the arts and a major contributor to European literature, thought and science. Yet, Marinetti and the Futurists rejected, in often belligerent terms, Italy’s past, or better, they pointed out that modern Italy had much to offer and that focusing exclusively on Italy’s past contributed to the idea that Italy was a land of the past, a living museum.

The Futurists proclaimed their love of speed, technology, youth, and violence. They turned objects such as cars and aeroplanes into the beauty icons of the new age. They sang the excitement of life in the new industrial cities, teaming with masses of people. They also, importantly, aimed to reach out to the masses. Art and culture for the Futurists were not the preserve of a small elite. The Italian Futurists wanted to engage with a much larger public. The arts were seen as highly relevant to politics because they were best placed to exercise a positive power over society; they were the vehicle through which to engage the masses; and they had the potential to affect radical change.

Above all the Futurists called for sweeping changes; they wanted to transform the universe as they knew it. The manifesto published in March 11, 1915, and entitled ‘Futurist Reconstruction of the Universe’ is a good example of this. In this manifesto, and in many others, the Futurists offer us a vision of transformation and radical innovation that touched all artistic disciplines and reached out to the world of science and technology.

Yet, even when approaching a movement so openly and programmatically interartistic, we still tend to study it by focusing on single disciplines and from individual disciplinary perspectives. A small-scale interdisciplinary project led by Prof Giuliana Pieri, Dr David Brown (The Sixth Form College Farnborough) and Mr Thomas Cooke (Queen Margaret’s School, York) aims precisely at showing that boundaries between disciplines need not be an obstacle but can be used as an advantage for some innovative classroom activities and collaboration between schools, departments within schools, and universities.

The students who are taking part in this project, and who will attend a workshop at Tate Modern on Monday 13 February, have been studying Italian Futurism from a multiplicity of perspectives and for different reasons. Historians from Farnborough encounter Futurism when they study the roots of Italian nationalism and the rise of the Fascist movement. Students of art history at Queen Margaret’s engage with Futurism when they study early 20th-century Avant-Garde movements. Students at Royal Holloway in the School of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures, encounter Futurism in their study of Fascist Italy, and at specialist final year level in a course on European art and culture in the period between1880-1940.

The workshop at Tate will offer us a forum for discussion, a space in which we can exchange ideas and perspectives. To find out more about this event and for details to attend the session, which is open to all, follow this link.

Keep following us on these webpages over the next few weeks and read more about Interdisciplinary Futurism, from the teachers and students who took part. And if you like the idea and would like to get involved contact us. We have resources and ideas that we can share with you and your school.


Prof Giuliana Pieri, Royal Holloway University of London

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