Beauty in a Gesture: Fencing and Femininity, Beyond Sport

Film buffs are familiar with Ridley Scott’s ‘The Duelists’, based on Joseph Conrad’s short story ‘The Duel: A Military Tale’ of two French army officers who challenge each other to a fencing duel countless times between the Napoleonic period and the Restoration, an extreme, even dreamlike and symbolic synthesis of the uninterrupted struggle between men for self-assertion.

Women’s fencing in many ways tells a different story: the footwork becomes a ballet, and the advancing and retreating of the challengers on the piste become almost a game of seduction. Fencing is not a delicate sport, on the contrary – ferocity is essential to sink the blow, and yet, women’s fencing is certainly not only an athletic spectacle but also aesthetically beautiful to watch. Those light bodies sheathed in white that cling to each other or seem to fly offer a beauty unknown to other sports.

‘Beauty in a gesture – all the pink of fencing – Women protagonists on and off the piste’ was the theme of the event held on 8 December at the Italian Embassy and promoted in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute and the FIS-Italian Fencing Federation, which saw the members of the Italian women’s fencing team, who will be competing in the Serbian capital from 9-11 December, which is their debut at the 2022/2023 Women’s Fencing World Cup as guests. This initiative focuses on strong Italian female fencers, who are often only remembered when they win a medal at the Olympics.

The ‘Beauty in a Gesture’ project comes following the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Italian Fencing Federation signing a Memorandum of Understanding to support the promotion of Italy’s image in the world through this sport.

At the event, the Italian Ambassador to Serbia, Luca Gori, recalled that if Italy is recognised worldwide as the country of beauty, it is because it knows how to showcase it in so many forms – from arts to sporting traditions and the touch of exclusive and recognisable design that Italian companies give their products. Italy has even reached the top when it comes to training and wellness machines, as seen in Technogym. Sports diplomacy, of which Ambassador Gori is a great advocate, brings together the sporting experiences of different nations and makes it possible to get important messages across to younger audiences or those not accustomed to diplomatic events.

Thanks to the Institute of Culture, the Belgrade leg of the Beauty in a Gesture project is enriched by an evocative photographic exhibition, which is staged at the headquarters of Palazzo Italia and which features the work of photographer Augusto Bizzi, i.e. a photo narration of iconic fencing images.


This post is also available in: Italiano

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