Steampunk is a global phenomenon.
The attention usually goes to the UK when it comes to European Steampunk, but sometimes it’s forgotten that there’s an entire continent involved as well. There are several hot spots for the movement in Europe, and the fashionable and creative Italians are a wonderful example of what can be done when you mix Steampunk standards with homegrown ideas. I reached out to Steampunk Italia and asked them to answer a few questions, which they graciously offered to do. Here’s what they had to say.
Tell us about your Steampunk group:
Steampunk Italia is officially born on the 2nd of October 2011 by a group of ten people that love this amazing culture. The founding members, also known as the S.T.I.M. (Steam Technological Italian Mercenaries) decided that it was the time to create the first Steampunk Italian association and worked to bring this culture into Italy, where it’s not so famous yet, and join together all Italian people who are interested in it by creating and organizing
Steampunk events nationwide. Now S teampunk Italia is growing every day and we are happy when someone decides to join us and help us to reach our target.
Our group is even really motived [sic] to recycle. We build our costumes, props and weapons only with recycled things like old lightbulbs, manometers, iron, leather and all that normally is unusable. We like to create somethings unique and get a second life to dead things.
How popular is Steampunk in Italia?
In the last years
Steampunk in Italy was not so famous yet. It was a little community but there was also so many people interested in this culture who still didn’t know that this hypothetical and futuristic past they like was named Steampunk! After we founded Steampunk Italia we have been featured in articles in this 2012 will be the boom of Steampunk in Italy.
What do you think Italia contributes to Steampunk as a movement?
Surely with its background. The founding members are all born in the same area that was the historical cradle of the Italian industrial revolution. Even arts contributes to form a Steampunk idea in people. We all can remember Emilio Salgari an
Italian writer that in the late XIX century was a pioneer of science fiction. Also the designer and architect Bruno Munari (1907 – 1998), with his “useless machines” (Macchine inutili), sculptures similar to Rube Goldberg machines, can be considered a contributor of the Steampunk Culture. The Italian Futurism movement can be considered, for some of its aspects, as a forefather of the Steampunk, with its celebration of speed, mechanics and industry as a part of culture and art.
Actually in Italy is growing in numbers by ‘Steampunk underground productions’ by standard editions such as “Steampunk” by Sedda Raffaele (2008), e-books such as “The Prodigious Automats of the Roman Republic” by Francesco Bazzurri (2011), and various literary competitions on the web by some Scifigeek. But it is only in recent times that
Steampunk is really infecting Italian artists. We can nominate “The Technician” as the first Italian Steampunk short film, by director Luca Cerlini, and “Il fiume a Nord” as the first Italian Steampunk book for kids, by Carlotta de Melas. They’re both produced in 2011 so…Steampunk in Italy is really being born right now!
Steampunk-flavoured book is Alice in Steamland, from Francesco Dimitri. It’s not a true remake of Alice in Wonderland, the plots are not so close to each other but it has a lot of characters coming from Carroll’s book but they gain a completely different look. The white rabbit, for example, is the warlord of the Queen; he’s a 2-meters tall white, furry murderer.
There are now few bands who exploring the “hidden cave” called
Steampunk music. So the approach of the Italian musicians to Steampunk music is still raw and we’re waiting for some concrete answers from these bands and who knows…maybe some new entries.
Does the history of Italia affect how you approach Steampunk?
We think that Steampunk is made by two elements: the technological innovations brought by the second industrial revolution and the Victorian lifestyle. Italy never had a truly Victorian age when
the industrial society was at it’s beginning. During the second part of the 19th century, Italy was a newborn country that had been divided since the start of the medieval ages. If we give a deeper look to the Savoia’s Kingdom, the part of Italy from which the unification started, in the north of the country, the Industrial revolution started about in 1815/1830, in the northern zones of Piedmont. There you can find old factories literally framed between towns and mountains. Maybe this is the why the most of the founders of Steampunk Italia come from northern Piedmont. We have mechanic and factories everywhere, even in our DNA! But the southern part of Italy had a medieval-like society based on agriculture and the northern part was under the influence of Austria (we were Austrian until 1861!) and France. That’s probably why if we think about ourselves as characters of a Steampunk tale we can’t really think about ourselves in Italy, but we would easily be emigrants or mercenaries somewhere else in Europe. Italy during the last centuries has been focused on traditions more than cultural innovations, and that would fit perfectly with the idea of insane technogeeks fleeing towards more advanced countries to find a place in a world that’s changing rapidly Figure out that in 1848 Italy was almost in a state of civil war, trying to get free from the different reigns. So, as a cultural background, we identify the part of the Victorian Age as a moment of rebellion and riots, quite different from the Victorian England.
What are your hopes for the future with Steampunk in Italia?
We’d really like that
Steampunk in Italy will be a well-known word and culture in all the country. We hope that Steampunk will become so famous as in England or America.
Steampunk Italia is
working hard to do it. We have our own web site (www.steampunkitalia.com), DeviantArt, Facebook, YouTube and Google+ accounts. We also have our own stands, exposition and production. We make tutorials to help people building their own Steampunk stuff. We are also working to organize, this year, a massive Steampunk event and we want to arrive, someday, to have many Steampunk Italian conventions in different areas of the country!
We want to continue growing and reach all
Italian areas and interested-in- Steampunk people and least but not last, join all Steamers in one big and united community to work all together to reach our goal.