Verona, Dante becomes a robot and acts as an exhibition guide

Until May 31, the exhibition spaces of Castel San Pietro in Verona are hosting "My Purgatory. Dante Prophet of Hope," the multimedia exhibition that recounts the Supreme Poet's journey among the seven crags of the mountain of Purgatory in which Dante becomes a robot and accompanies disabled people and children.

Leading up to the mountain of Purgatory, My Purgatory. Dante prophet of hope, the multimedia exhibition curated by essayist and pedagogue Franco Nembrini with illustrations by Gabriele Dell’Otto.

On view until May 31 in the exclusive spaces of Castel San Pietro in Verona, the exhibition is an interweaving of words, videos and sounds in a dialogue between past, present and modernity, which continues to have the younger generations as its protagonists. In the 500-square-meter exhibition space, a number of findings that have emerged with recent archaeological excavations will be highlighted. Visitors will find themselves ascending the mountain of Purgatory in a multisensory journey made up of projections of images, videos and sounds. The short films are made by Mosaiko, with Msgr. Martino Signoretto, and sounds by the Musical Chapel of Verona Cathedral, conducted by Giovanni Geraci.

There are 33 stages, punctuated by as many illustrations to accompany insights and reflections. Of the three canticles of the “Divine Comedy,” Purgatorio is the one we can most easily feel our own. It refers back to the dramatic question from which the whole journey of Purgatorio moves: can we begin again? Evil is there, but is it really the last word? Nicodemus asks Jesus the same question, “How can a man be born when he is old?” (Jn. 3:4). The answer is lapidary: “You must be born again from above” (Jn 3:7). That is to say: alone is not possible, we need someone to raise us up; we need an act of mercy. Holding up the whole architecture of Purgatory is the key-word mercy, because it expresses the nature of God. But there are other terms that help us understand why Dante’s second cantica is the one we can most easily identify with.

Purgatorio is also the cantica of time, of possible change, in which to be reborn and begin again. In the present, since the past is gone and the future is yet to come. Purgatory is the place of patience: of God, who gives time to understand; and of humans, that they may learn not to let mistakes, failures, relapses get them down. Virgil’s last words to Dante, the master’s leave-taking from the disciple, are an affirmation of conquered freedom (Purg. XXVII, vv. 139-142): “Non aspettar mio dir più né mio cenno; libero, dritto e sano è tuo arbitrio, e fallo fora non fare a suo senno: per ch’io te sovra te corono e mitrio.” The Supreme Poet is free: he is no longer a slave to circumstances or instincts, but is able to judge them and live them in the light of his own truest desire.

In addition to Franco Nembrini, authors of the texts are: Filippo Ungar, Jessica Barcella, Virginia Alfano and Edoardo Rossi. An integral part of the event is the work El Dante, created by sculptor Adelfo Galli. It is a depiction of a man amazed, overwhelmed and moved by his encounter with Beatrice, so much so that he changes his consciousness of himself and of all reality. The sculptor depicts the procession the Supreme Poet witnesses in the earthly paradise (cantos XXIX and XXX) of “Purgatory.” The mythological griffin guides the chariot of the Church, on which Beatrice is seated, protected by the four evangelists (the eagle, the angel, the ox and the lion; the scene is cheered by the dance of the three theological virtues (Faith, Hope and Charity) and by the jubilation of a numerous people.

The protagonists of the exhibition itinerary are young people from 14 institutions: taking on the role of “ciceroni” this year are 120 three-year old secondary school students, who, thanks to the PCTO (Pathways for Transversal Skills and Orientation) activity, have been trained on the contents of the exhibitions so that they can present them to their peers and visitors. From 10 in 2022, the number of institutions present rises to 14, from Verona and Desenzano del Garda. The exhibition then has a focus on ICT (Information and Communication Technology) related to the world of education. The Iusve University of Verona takes care, with a group of students, of the communication on social-media dedicated to the event.

NAO humanoid exceptional guide

As an exceptional guide NAO, the humanoid robot programmed by the students of the Veronese institute “Alle Stimate” with all the joints of a human being and sensors that, thanks to Artificial Intelligence, make it capable of giving emotional feedback and explanations about the contents of the review. On Saturday, May 20 (from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.) and Sunday, May 21 (from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.), the humanoid helps visitors with disabilities traverse Purgatory, overcoming both physical and intellectual barriers. Nao debuted last year at last year’s My Inferno festival, of which My Purgatory is the sequel. The humanoid this time has a new guise (the Supreme Poet’s red robes) and mission, for which he was prepared by students Chiara Giacomelli, Laura Mascalzoni, Shenal Fernando, Mattia Begali, Noemi Magaraggia, Aurora Savoia and Giacomo Santi joined by Giovanni Bellorio, professor of Computer Science.

The exhibition is organized by Rivela Association under the patronage of Veneto Region, City of Verona, Dante Alighieri Society Verona, Ministry of Education - Verona Territorial School Office, Agec, Confcommercio, Confindustria Verona, Cdo Veneto and Iusve. The event is held in collaboration with Edizioni Centocanti and Diocese of Verona - Vicariate for Culture thanks to the contribution of Fondazione Cariverona, Fondazione Banca Popolare di Verona, Fondazione Cattolica, Verona Chamber of Commerce, Consorzio Zai, Amia. The initiative is part of a “Project for the Expansion of Educational Offerings” of the Veneto Region and is supported by numerous public institutions as well as private companies in the area.

The exhibition is also dedicated to the special label of the bottle of Lugana Doc Mandolara Le Morette - Azienda Agricola Valerio Zenato with illustration by Dell’Otto.

 Verona, Dante becomes a robot and acts as an exhibition guide
Verona, Dante becomes a robot and acts as an exhibition guide