Laura Lori

Panel 3A: Literary Transcodifications/3
Session 3 – July 2, 11:00 – 13:00

From Homeward Bound to La danza dell’orice: Transcoding in Ubax Cristina Ali Farah’s Writing

In 2019, the BOZAR, Brussels Centre for Fine Arts, asked five writers to choose a work from the exhibition Bernard van Orley. Brussels and the Renaissance and inhabit one of its characters. One of the authors was Ubax Cristina Ali Farah, a poet, writer and activist, born in Italy to a Somali father and an Italian mother, grown up in a newly independent Somalia, now living in Brussels, Belgium. Ubax Cristina Ali Farah chose Ecce Homo. She wrote a short piece in Italian that has been then translated in English, Flemish and French. That ekphrasis was the artist’s first step into transcodification. She has always been concerned with the power of language to rebuild a world broken by violence and is a very eclectic author: she wrote a contemporary version of Sophocles’ Antigone for the Sicilian theatre company Sutta Scupa (2018) and the libretto for the opera Silent City, written to celebrate Matera, European Capital of Culture in 2019. Later that year, she accepted the invitation of the Art Book Publisher Juxta Press to participate to Words for Portraits, a series of essays and short stories written by English and Italians speaking authors on a portrait of their choice. Ali Farah picked Homeward Bound (2009), archival pigment print with screenprint, by Kenyan-born U.S.-based artist Wangechi Mutu, and La danza dell’orice (The oryx’s dance) was born. This paper intends to analyse Ecce Homo and La danza dell’oriceas example of transcoding, translingual, transcultural and transnational writing.  


She holds the Inaugural ACIS Postdoctoral Fellowship in Italian Studies at University of Melbourne. After completing her PhD at La Trobe University, in Melbourne, Australia, she extensively published in Australia and overseas, including her monograph Inchiostro d’Africa. Her area of expertise extends from Cultural Studies to Performing Arts and Contemporary Literature. Her previous research project There Ain’t no Black in the Tricolore investigated the connections between postcolonial studies, global mobility and the ongoing social changes in contemporary Italy. Her current project Transcultural trajectories in Italian Theatre: new ways of inclusion through the performing arts explores how the re-writing and mise en scène of plays by Italian theatre companies and young migrants facilitates inclusion and challenges the discourse around nation and sovereignty.