Rescue from flood of 15 thousand books on display at Ferrara castle

The sublimation of a tragic moment through art. Artist Silvia Camporesi recounts at the Castello Estense in Ferrara, from January 27 to March 17, 2024, the rescue of books from the flood, done by many people, together.

The exhibition Sommersi Salvati (Sunken Saved ) by photographer Silvia Camporesi opens from January 27 to March 17, 2024, in the Sala dei Comuni of the Estense Castle in Ferrara. The exhibition is organized by several institutions: the Bishop’s Seminary of Forli, Ferrara Art Foundation and Art Museum Service of the City of Ferrara. Submerged Saved tells a story of books, of passion, history and theology, kept in the library of the Bishop’s Seminary of Forlì books and suddenly submerged by water and mud during the flood that violently hit Emilia-Romagna last May and saved by men. Photographs by Silvia Camporesi, along with video by Mara Moschini and Marco Cortesi, recount the tragic and unpredictable event and its aftermath: the extraordinary defense of memory thanks to the work of citizens, volunteers and law enforcement officers who worked through the mud tirelessly to bring the books of the Forlì library to safety. The book, fragile object, and powerful message of universal salvation is the symbol of knowledge and culture and we cannot allow it to be destroyed.

“It is one of the possibilities of happiness that we men have,” wrote Jorge Luis Borges.

“Silvia Camporesi’s photographs go far beyond documentation,” reflects Culture Councillor Marco Gulinelli “These are engaging shots in which she exalts the work of the hundreds of people who rushed in those days to help. Catastrophes like the one that occurred in Emilia Romagna have a destructive effect on people, but also on cultural heritage. Silvia Camporesi’s work, now based at Ferrara’s Castello Estense, represents the rescue of 50 thousand books, one-third of the documents present from the bishop’s seminary in Forlì when it was swept away by water and mud.”

“Ferrara and Forlì embrace each other in this exhibition, returning sisters of the same land, the same land that we have seen in all its fragility,” says Ferrara Arte Foundation President Vittorio Sgarbi. “This exhibition is not a commemoration, but it is the sublimation of a tragic moment that through Silvia Camporesi’s aesthetic vision lives on in our memory. And this is the meaning of art. Her photographs are large, speaking photographs, they are photographs of humanity, they tell about people who saw and lived through those moments. And with them, the books are also like people, living and telling by existing beyond their time.”

“May 16, 2023 is a day I will never forget,” says Silvia Camporesi. “I am a photographer, but I do not usually deal with reportage. However, I wanted to give back through images this process of rescue that so many people, so many volunteers, had put in place. The books were flooded and some of them were saved, especially the older ones that otherwise would have been irretrievably lost, forgotten.”

“Right from the start, we understood that we had to document, yet represent this moment in an artistic way, as a timeless memory of a great thing that happened,” points out Sauro Turroni, who collaborated on the set-up. “Silvia Camporesi was already documenting the many young volunteers who rushed in, immersed in the mud with shovels and boots, working from morning to night to help the population. We had to save a piece of memory and history, which had involved families, but also convents, seminaries and other places of worship. Don Andrea Carubia understood immediately and let us do it.”

Born in 1973, Silvia Camporesi constructs stories that draw from myth, literature, religions and real life. In recent years her research has been dedicated to the Italian landscape. Since 2004 she has held numerous solo exhibitions in Italy, including: Dance dance dance (MAR in Ravenna, 2007); Planasia (Festival of European Photography in Reggio Emilia, 2014); Genius Loci (MAC in Lissone, 2017). Solo exhibitions held abroad include À perte de vue (Chambre Blanche, Quebec, 2011); 2112 (Saint James Cavalier, Valletta, 2013); Atlas Italiae (Abbaye de Neumünster, Luxembourg, 2015; Art Musing, Mumbai, 2017; Desfours Palace, Prague, 2018). Among group exhibitions, he participated in: Italian camera (Isola di San Servolo, Venice, 2005); Con gli occhi, con la testa, col cuore (Mart, Rovereto, 2012); Italia inside out (Palazzo della Ragione, Milan, 2015); Extraordinary visions (MAXXI, Rome, 2016; Kolkata Centre, Calcutta, 2019); The Quest for Happines (Serlachius Museum, Mänttä, Finland, 2019-2020); Italia in-attesa. Twelve Photographic Tales (Palazzo Barberini, Rome, 2021); Fuori tutto (MAXXI, Rome, 2023). In 2007 he won the Celeste Prize for photography; in 2008 he was among the finalists for the Talent Prize and in 2010 for the Terna Prize. She won the Francesco Fabbri Prize for Photography in 2013, the Rotary Prize at Artefiera 2015, the BNL Prize 2016, the Cantica21 Prize in 2021, Soroptimist Women at Work in 2021 and The New Italian Choice in 2022. She has published ten books and combines artistic activity with teaching. Her works are in public and private collections, including: MAXXI, Rome; Collezione Farnesina, Rome; Mart, Rovereto; MAC Lissone, Gruppo BNL, Milan; GNAM, Rome.

Opening hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., closed Tuesdays (ticket office closes 45 minutes before)

Rescue from flood of 15 thousand books on display at Ferrara castle
Rescue from flood of 15 thousand books on display at Ferrara castle

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