Cosmic Dancer
Video Playlist
by Federica Notari

Federica Notari explores the subversive music – and mobility – of Italian pop icon Raffaella Carrà.

Raffaella Carrà was a cosmic dancer in constant movement. She was an emotional educator and an instigator of sexual emancipation beyond the boundaries of the accepted social norms in Italy in the 1960s and 70s, when she began her career. 

Raffaella had a dynamic career that was constantly in motion and ranged from singing in various languages to dancing and, later on, working as a TV-show host. To watch Raffaella is to see her in movement: framing her is no easy task. Capturing her posing on the spot is almost futile. Seeing Raffaella is seeing her in motion. A shoot for Vogue in the 1970s captures her tossing her head in a recognisable movement that soon became an identifier, as she throws back her bobbed head of platinum-blonde hair. 

It is her head tilt that particularly fascinates me. It can be understood as a form of disidentification –

disidentification being the tool through which a minority culture is able to negotiate with the majority culture. Disidentification means neither aligning with nor going against exclusionary mechanisms, but transforming them and re-appropriating them, to use them for one’s own cultural purposes. 

“Sei pazza!” You’re crazy! In Italian, this phrase is accompanied by the gesture of touching the head, pointing at it or moving the finger in a circular motion near the temporal lobe, because madness is associated with losing your head or having your head turned upside down. Raffaella was so crazy she was transformative. She effected her transformations through performative disidentification, within a system that could have boxed her in. Yet she never lost control of her head and uses it continuously to make space for herself, pushing to redefine social boundaries. Disidentification is a new perspective on minority survival and activism through performance. 

The playlist below is a compilation of songs that really capture the attitude of her music and the way she performed disidentification as a form of resistance, maintaining her femininity but using it as a tool for transformation. In her song Rumore, she highlights the difficulties women face as they attempt to free themselves from the old patriarchal traditions. In Male she sings “coraggio amore mio / che tanto pago io” – which translates as: “be courageous my love, because I’ll pay anyway”. Vola encourages us to fly, and find a purpose – as she asks, “Who are you? What do you do?... Fly higher than a seagull and don’t wait for tomorrow”. In Black Cat, her dancing features intense head tilts throughout, almost making us dizzy as we attempt to keep up. Finally, one can’t deny the social influence of songs like A Far L'amore Comincia Tu and Tanti Auguri, popularising female sexual initiative and consent culture before these were even topics of discussion in Italy. 

Raffaella Carrà remains uncapturable and eternally in motion. 

By Rafaella Carra
By Rafaella Carra
Tanti Auguri
By Rafaella Carra
Black Cat
By Rafaella Carra
By Rafaella Carra
Federica Notari
Federica Notari is a multimedia trans-disciplinary researcher, with an MA in African Studies, where she explored how young women in Dakar made space for themselves in the male-dominant hip-hop scene through kinship and sisterhood, resulting in a co-creative video thesis produced with a Senegalese photographer. Through her methodologies, she aims to demystify the role of the researcher and question the hegemonic structures that define knowledge. Her practice focuses on questioning how we navigate space, how it informs us, and how we belong to space. She recently obtained her second MA in Media Studies, where her visual and written research explored how family archives inform ones' belonging: seeing archives as mobile flexible bodies that can be reimagined, remobilized, and reanimated. Her practice focuses on notions of belonging to space. Space is not static and neither are we. It is this flexibility and ever shifting emotional tie with which we have with space and belonging that particularly interests Federica’s research practice.
Music/Video: Histories, Aesthetics, Media
by Various Authors