Interdisciplinary Italy and Tate Exchange: Some Students’ Perspectives

In 2017, we have partnered up with two schools (in Surrey and Yorkshire) and have brought together historians, art historians, designers, and students of Italian to rethink the way we approach and teach Italian Futurism. The project culminated in a workshop at Tate Modern, in the beautiful and inspiring setting of Tate Exchange: ‘a space for everyone to collaborate, test ideas and discover new perspectives on life, through art’. We report below some of the students’ comments on their experiences.

by Herbert Lamden

Working in a group provided an opportunity to discuss ideas and get multiple, varying perspectives on the artwork we studied, which was particularly important due to the ambiguity and often confusing nature of futurist art. This was furthered by the collaboration with students from other schools and subjects during the event as an even wider range of perspectives were available, developing the understanding of everyone in the group. It wasn’t difficult to discuss futurism in ways which students from all disciplines understood because all the elements are so interconnected within futurism, but it still left room for advancing historians’ knowledge of art and artists’ knowledge of history, for example.

The interdisciplinary approach was very useful as Futurism is an inherently interdisciplinary movement which can’t be fully understood without consideration of various perspectives. By studying the art, politics and history of Futurism, we were able to produce a much deeper understanding of what Futurists believed in and how they expressed their ideas.

  By involving multiple disciplines and perspectives, it would be easy to become confused about an artistic movement due to the sheer volume of information and opinion available. However, by finding links and overlapping content or ideas, it became increasingly apparent that all of the material stemmed from the same core beliefs and with this knowledge, we were able to get a more accurate sense of what the movement represented, as well as how individual Futurists interpreted the movement slightly differently.

  As a historian, I was able to gain greater insight into the styles and techniques present in fascist art, but the historians were also able to link this artistic perspective back into the history and politics of the movement, creating a more well-rounded opinion. Having graphic design students on hand allowed us to present the exhibition and the idea of futurism in a more engaging and informative manner.

  The Tate Exchange was an excellent space in which to exhibit our research and the fact that students travelled to the space from across the country, meeting for the first time, meant that it was a site of collaboration and managed to bring us together regardless of differences in the subjects we are taking.

by Rachel Muir

I was very fortunate to be able to take part in the Tate Exchange with my college and learn a lot more about Italian Futurism in the process.

In small groups or pairs we researched a specific piece of art, mine being The March on Rome by Giacomo Balla. It was initially very difficult to find information on this piece because it didn’t seem to be one of Balla’s most famous paintings, however we managed to use Italian google and the help of google translate to find out more information! We also managed to speak to some Italian students via Skype about their views on Futurism. It was great because the following week in history we learnt about the March on Rome and I was already an expert on the subject!


We also got to find out about Futurist poetry which is extremely different to our understanding of poetry! It was interesting to find out all about the futurists, for example their cook books which did not use pasta as it was deemed too ‘soft’ for a macho Italian! We got the opportunity to do our own Italian poetry and some of it ended up looking really good!

Overall it was a fantastic day and so interesting to get to talk to so many different students about one common subject. I literally knew nothing about Italian futurism before this project and so it has definitely extended my knowledge and was so useful to improve my research and communication skills!


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