An installation at Venaria Reale to reflect on child witnessing violence


Through Jan. 9, 2022, the Reggia di Venaria Reale is hosting "Scent of Life," a multi-sensory installation dedicated to the theme of child witnessing violence.

Until Jan. 9, 2022, on the occasion of the creation of the fifth edition of the Profumo di Vita #neldirittodelbambino calendar, the Reggia di Venaria Reale presents the Profumo di Vita exhibition, a multisensory installation that engages visitors in a journey made of images, scents and melodies. The artistic-social project Profumo di Vita was born in 2017 from the collaboration between theLegal@rte Association, formed by a group of members of the State Police, and the Turin-based photographer Elena Givone, to create a moment of reflection and in-depth study on the submerged phenomenon of “witnessing violence” by minors, in order to learn about its physical and psychological consequences in children, who are often forced spectators of manifestations of violence between adults.

“Assisted violence” is defined as the involvement of the child in acts of violence carried out on reference figures for him/her, affectively significant. Domestic violence against women is a violation of human rights that causes deep wounds in their bodies and minds. Even children, often passive and helpless spectators, remain scarred by this traumatic experience: their right to live and grow up in a safe environment is trampled upon. Indeed, it is not only the beatings, injuries or broken bones that are violence, but also the threats, insults, blackmail, humiliation, and mockery, often in the presence of the terrified children. Knowing the consequences of witnessing violence can help understand why a woman reacts in a certain way or why a child engages in certain behaviors. Witnessing incidents of violence by the father against the mother is a traumatic experience for the child from which he or she is deeply scarred; it deprives children of a safe environment in which to play, grow, and live their childhood and adolescence peacefully. The importance of correct information on this issue, which is all too often the subject of news reports that make a spectacle of the most dramatic events without developing adequate knowledge about the phenomenon of interpersonal violence, particularly violence against children, is evident. Witnessing violence, punished by Article 572 of the Penal Code “Maltreatment in the family,” is, even before being a problem to be countered with legal matter, a social problem that must invest everyone, taking into account that those adults, who have become parents, run a high risk of intergenerational transmission of abusive/abusive conduct.

The shots taken in the Reggia for the 2022 calendar accompany the installation Scent of Life, which can be visited on the second floor of the Rooms of the Arts until Jan. 9, 2022. The exhibition, curated by Roberta Di Chiara, aims to guide visitors inside a special multisensory “empathic” pathway, in which the images and notes of musician Stefano Cannone embrace the olfactory notes of the fragrance created by Diletta Tonatto, of the Turin-based Maison of the same name. An integral part of the Profumo di vita exhibition project is the short film Il Silenzio del Dolore, presented at the 36th Turin Film Festival. A QR Code allows visitors to view the story starring actress Elena Ruzza, who directed it with Matteo Cantamessa. Based on an autobiographical text by policewoman and psychotherapist Katia Ferraguzzi, the video confronts the viewer with an often invisible reality, that of minors who are victims of witnessing violence.

Witnessing violence is a social problem that affects everyone, taking into account that adults, who witness violence as children, run a high risk of intergenerational transmission of battering and abusive conduct. To address the theme, Turin-based artist Elena Givone chose Newborn photography through shots taken inside the maternity wards of Italian hospitals, in the very first days of a child’s life, capturing at its best the magical and unrepeatable moment of the infant’s deep sleep in its fragility, protected by the embrace of its parents. Images of care and protection, accompanied by medical and scientific information edited by the Familiarmente association, which became an exhibition project and a popular calendar, to remind us that in the first thousand days of life the foundations are laid for the adult of tomorrow.

The 2022 edition of the calendar has the privilege of having an exceptional photographic set: the Reggia di Venaria, which in June 2021 hosted the Birth Festival, a “welcome to life” celebration linked to the project Born with Culture - Cultural Passport. The initiative included an awareness-raising moment and the casting of mothers and children featured in the new publication. New to the new calendar, produced in collaboration with the association Alsil Onlus and the patronage of the State Police and the Piedmont Region, is a Qr code that leads to the discovery of the little-known phenomenon of child witnessing violence, thanks to the narrative voice of actress Elena Ruzza, the protagonist of 12 video clips. The calendars will be distributed through the “suspended milk” initiative. In fact, the calendar will be donated with the purchase of powdered milk for newborns at some pharmacies in the Turin area, which have made themselves available with packages at a reduced price; the milk purchased will be left in the pharmacy to be distributed to new mothers in need through the diocesan Caritas. More information can be found at www.profumodivita.info.

Elena Givone, born in 1979, is a photographer, visual artist and dreamer from Turin. She collaborates with several NGOs and NPOs developing creative projects and training activities. Among the author’s salient prerogatives is questioning dreams, reflecting on the relationship between the reality of the surrounding world and the inner sphere, investigating the power of imagination that resides in each of us. Her work encompasses an ever-expanding body of work that over the past fifteen years has taken shape in Italy, Bosnia, Brazil, France, England, Mali, Burundi, Egypt, India, Myanmar, Greece, Jordan and Sri Lanka, where she has opened a school of photography for local children. Elena Givone’s work has a strong ethical and social component, in which she often stages the voice of a humanity whose word has been taken away. Elena Givone is dedicated to the study of “newborn” photography, learning the secrets from the great international masters, and teaches in master classes and workshops this genre of photography dedicated to childhood. Many of her works are published in numerous magazines, exhibited in galleries, international museums and private collections. Represented by the Contrasto agency, she is Fujifilm X-Photographer. Her website: www.elenagivone.com.

Pictured: one of Elena Givone’s photographs.

An installation at Venaria Reale to reflect on child witnessing violence
An installation at Venaria Reale to reflect on child witnessing violence


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