Parole Rosa (Pink Words) is a project sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland and Compass Group in collaboration with the City of Milan. It aims on focusing on the role of women in the contemporary society. This is how the project Walking Writing Il tempo è Galantuomo (Time is a gentleman) was born, where the ground of Piazza Affari (the square where Milan Stock Exchange is located) becomes a sort of white page on which the words of a story, curlingly written along the pavement, involve the pedestrians in reading and moving as in a dance.
Conversation text and English translation of the text by Rosa Matteucci below
Laura Mazza: How did you develop the idea behind your latest work “Parole Rosa”?
Stefania Galegati Shines: The proposal came from the gallery that was asked to organize an event dealing with women and work for the Compas Group. There is nothing better than a co-production between two female gallerists (owners of the Pinksummer Gallery, Genoa), a female writer (Rosa Matteucci) and a female artist, myself.
LM: How does the formal aspect of the text support and contribute to the communication of the message?
SGS: The text is written on the city pavement and practically, the way it is written, is conceived and designed to make the public feel dizzy. Following its curls, the reader is led to a kind of dance. I wanted to physically lighten the efforts of the lady of the story. And then the story comes to an end a few feet from where it starts. I’m taking you back where you were at first.
LM: How did you plan and organize the work with the author of the text, Rosa Matteucci ? Are your works independent of one another or connected?
SGS: It is not the first time I am doing this kind of work with Rosa, each of us knows what to do. The two gallerists are also great coordinators. The works are necessarily concatenatedto one another.
LM: How did you work, physically, on this project? How did you manage the writing on the ground of Piazza Affari (the square where Milan Stock Exchange is located)?
SGS: Once we reached the place, we realized that despite the prohibition signs, cars were still parked there and we had to rethink the design of the writing. Technically, there was someone who dictated the text to me while I was writing.
LM: What are the main difficulties in interacting with the public space and the city?
SGS: The inevitable contingencies. Cars are the worst. Then we got the police (three fast screeching cars), and in the end the Carabinieri. The police’s arrival is always predictable, but unfortunately even with permits, they always stop you for half an hour. And finally, the weather. For Milan in December we could not have been luckier, they forecasted snow and if it did everything would have been postponed.
LM: What was the feedback from the audience?
SGS: The rumors I heard were positive… but Milan is always very difficult and tricky for this kind of work. They do not like losing their way and spend ten minutes to read the story.
Time is a gentleman by Rosa Matteucci
“Yes, it is ready.”
The woman’s face lights up. She smiles awkwardly.
“That’s nice, at the end you managed to make it!”
“Yes, but in order to please you, I did something I should not have done.”
“I want to see it.”
The old man opens a drawer, takes out a bundle and slowly unwraps it. He holds something tight in his hand. The woman is eager to see it.
“A perfect job: no one will ever notice the difference.”
“Nobody has to know where it comes from, I do not know you, and I don’t want to get in trouble.”
“Don’t worry, no one will ever know. You and I are the only ones to know.”
“Well I’m not sure; you asked me the impossible, why did you need a twenty-seven hour watch?”
“Why, why? There is no reason, just tell me how much I owe you. I have no time to waste.”
The old man scowled and quickly took the watch off the hand of his customer.
“Darling, if you want it you should at least tell me the reason.” He says so, swinging it as a pendulum right in front of the woman’s nose.
“You don’t remember things, I told you already, twenty four hours are never enough for a woman. Women always work a lot. ”
“It’s not a good reason to have a twenty-seven hour watch.”
“It’s not your business.”
The old man sniggers slyly while handing her the watch.
“Let’s see, what are you going to do with these three spare hours”?
“What am I doing with my time? Do you still have the guts to ask me?”
“But don’t you know how many things we have to do? The family, the growing up children that eat, play, sleep, get sick. The house, the office, and all the other responsibilities: shopping, deadlines, appointments. The loss of time. You have no idea.”
“You might be right, but those three hours… I hope they are used for a licit purpose.”
“Those three hours are my salvation! Don’t you know that women are forced to do many things at the same time? While ironing the laundry I have to think what to cook the next day, and at the same time check on the kids. Meanwhile, cook the dinner in the oven while the washing machine is on, I have to fit one thing into another, and I have to write everything I have done during the day in case I forgot something. I need to know in advance all I’ll have to do tomorrow. ”
“Mm… it could be so… ”
The woman hesitates, she wants to leave.
“Will I be entitled to have a bit of time for myself? Am I allowed to have a bath to rest? Have I the right to spend some time in daydreams, or stay alone with my own soul, dont’ I have this right?”
“These are all things that can be done anyway.”
“Who are you to ask me all these questions? I have just given you a job, now you did it, tell me how much I owe you.”
The old man finally raises his head, in his eyes indecipherable images flow rapidly, forgotten but pulsating images, a summary of everyone’s life, life as it was and as it will forever be.
“But then, who are you?”
“Who am I?”
The old man smiles mischievously, his face is transfigured and at the same time he looks very old, a newborn, and a man.
“Who am I?” he repeats mockingly, “I’m the Time.”
The woman looks at him straight in the eyes “You know what? You can keep your watch, I don’t need your charity, and I have no time to waste. I’ll find my way.”
The door slams behind her.
She is out. She runs across the square, smiling. When she stops to catch her breath and turns back, stifling a chuckle, the little watches and time shop had disappeared.
Special thanks to Garvin Cumming for editing the english translation.