“i was born to eliminate three terrible evils, tyranny, sophism, hypocrisy...” [tommaso campanella]
prismi [the completion of the “editrice politecnica napoli” trademark is a tribute to the projects set up at the outbreak of the second world war by giuseppe cenzato - the ‘fondazione prima’ and the ‘editrice politecnica’ - created with riccardo ricciardi; “naples”, the guiding light, the idea of the need for a culturally-oriented company with a firmly rooted identity, a company that is “locally based” but which, at the same time, is equipped to cope with the dynamics of global competition. the trademark is a reworking of leonardo’s allegory of pleasure and pain] took shape in 1980 at the initiative of a group of neapolitan entrepreneurs whose origins are firmly basis in the italian and international economic fabric; it was originally designed to support the generous and uncontainable commitment of gerardo marotta’s istituto italiano per gli studi filosofici (italian institute for philosophical studies).
after serving an apprenticeship under the banner of scientific rigour [with the excellent editor franco pugliese carratelli], marked by the anastatic reprinting of the copy of the poesie filosofiche by campanella with the author’s notes, prismi went on to publish the series corpus reformatorum italicorum, edited by luigi firpo and giorgio spini, la filosofia classica tedesca, edited by claudio cesa, luigi pareyson and valerio verra, and the six-monthly periodical nouvelles de la république des lettres, set up by paul dibon and tullio gregory and now edited by marta fattori, marc fumaroli and tullio gregory.
“art is magic delivered from the lie of being truth” [t.l.w. adorno]
after the first phase of experimentation, academic and specialist publications continued and were extended, over the years, to the first essays [1982 saw the publication of the translation of ‘the mass ornament’ (la massa come ornamento) by siegfried kracauer, as part of the astrea series], to economic and technical literature [the series studi sul mezzogiorno produced for the naples chamber of commerce, industry, crafts and architecture, and to the start of the publication of the complete works of cesare merzagora, lo strano paese, and il presidente scomodo, 2001 and 2004]. in 1983, in collaboration with electa napoli, prismi launched an unprecedented collaborative initiative set up with shareholders of international standing which has always cultivated its southern italian roots and calling. it is also heavily involved in art publishing; electa, run by giorgio fantoni and massimo vitta zelman, is a leading publisher in the sector in italy and europe, taking on full design, planning and operational responsibility for the new company since its foundation.
market research findings and cultural awards exceeded even the most optimistic predictions (thanks partly to the daily commitment of a united team and the systematic training of human resources and the selection of local suppliers); this success has gradually extended the scope of the initiatives to a full range of products and services for publishing and for integrated communication and cultural tourism: services range from the design to the production of complex publishing initiatives, to the first ‘high quality secondary’ initiatives sold at newsagents throughout southern italy [since 1996, with the successful collection of 24 editions in the series monumenti e miti della campania felix, with the pierro trademark – another string to the bow of prismi’s publications – in collaboration with il mattino newspaper], made possible by the systematic cataloguing of archaeological, artistic and environmental heritage. new services have embraced the new frontiers of drafting online texts and digital images.
with 25 years’ experience, it now boasts over one thousand titles in its catalogue [these range from systematic lists of volumes on crucial themes and personalities from the artistic cultural tradition of southern italy, to the first ‘scientific’ catalogues and brief guides to the most representative museum collections in campania, to the products and services for large exhibitions that have contributed to rediscovering and renewing one of the most controversial and lively civic identities in the western world and the mediterranean. its publications also include monographs on the historical, town planning and architectural transformations of the former capital, the landscapes of memory of old photography...]. it is an original ‘bookshop’ specialising in ‘regional’ publishing, based on the permanent experimentation of sustainable scenarios; its headquarters are based in naples and it has exclusive responsibility for the electa trademark in the whole of southern italy and sicily.
“we must become the change that we want to see” [gandhi]
from this unusual experience, critical differences about the purposes of the company eventually emerged [resolved with the mutually agreed separation from the shareholder mondadori which, since 1995, has taken over 100% of the electa trademark from the founding members]; this paved the way for the local mission – arte’m - which took shape in march 2008: arte’m has twenty-five years of experience and passion ‘inside’, the enthusiasm of a well-integrated team of professionals who are on the constant look-out for new talents and energies, the consolidated practice of ensuring a relationship between costs/times/benefits – from printed volumes to ‘certified’ online services – which has few equals in the sector at a global level.
it is no coincidence that, right from the start of this new phase, arte’m has chosen its partners rather than occasional suppliers, offering its services to the most enterprising institutions and players [soprintendenze (archaeological, architectural and art heritage commissions), the foundations of the festivals of ravello and ‘napoli teatro festival’, the ‘tarì’ foundation of design and graphics companies, the ‘accademia di belle arti’ (academy of fine arts) , ‘teatro di san carlo’ (san carlo theatre), ‘roma contemporary’, kolibrì, osservatorio euromediterraneo e del mar nero (observatory of the euro-mediterranean and the black sea), parco nazionale del vesuvio (national park of vesuvius)...] to share problems, rationalise costs and investments, set up long-term projects. arte’m is a ‘building site’ which is open, both as a vocation and out of necessity, to more suitable ‘high quality alliances’ [see consorzio arte’m net] for testing and implementing carefully designed organic solutions, in order to continue the work of “a team of willing staff who, over a period of thirty years of commitment employed by different yet complementary companies - prismi, electa napoli, arte’m – have never ceased to be grateful for the fortune of working in such a special natural and human environment” [from the presentation to napoli dentro \ inside, 2010].