© Christopher Pelley  2019

 

project Dante

urban intervention, Rome

Dante Aleghieri,  1265 - 1321



Yes, that Italian poet from the thirteenth century.  The one Bob Dylan sang about.  He was born in Florence, backed the wrong political party, and spent the last decades of his life in exile writing the greatest trilogy ever. (The Florence City Council rescinded Dante's exile sentence in June, 2008).  From hell through purgatory and then to paradise, Dante got back at everybody who ever harmed him, his words having a strength and a resonance that has echoed through the intervening centuries. The fact that he wrote in Italian, the language of the 99%, rather than Latin, hasn't hurt his popularity.  I am in awe of the power of his poetry.

What would happen if Dante lived today?  As an opposition voice blocked by the ruling power structure, would he take his words to the street?  Recently I have been working on a project that supposes that Dante was a tagger, his lines mixing with other graffiti here in Roma.

You will leave behind everything

you hold most dear                                                                                 Paradiso canto xvii lines 55-56

There is no greater sadness

Than to remember happiness

In times of misery                                                                   Inferno canto v lines 121-123

Necessity brings him here, not pleasure                                                        Inferno canto xii line 87

Your spirit is assailed by cowardice                                                                    Inferno canto ii line 45

Come and see your Rome how she weeps                              Purgatorio canto vi line 112