From Bruce Chatwin to Tano D'Amico and Mario Dondero: photography exhibitions 2017 in Castelnuovo Magra

Presented in Castelnuovo Magra the 2017 photography exhibitions: in the Castle Tower we will see the photos of Bruce Chatwin, Mario Dondero, Tano D'Amico

An articulated, rich program that touches on different themes (from land to travel via struggles for rights) and that already arouses a lot of interest: these are the first impressions after the presentation of the program of the 2017 photography exhibitions to be held at the Tower of the Castle of the Bishops of Luni in Castelnuovo Magra (La Spezia), a museum that has now become an undisputed protagonist of photography in Italy. The program was presented this morning at the Castelnuovo Town Hall in the presence of Mayor Daniele Montebello, councillors Katia Cecchinelli (culture) and Francesco Marchese (environment and urban planning) and the curators of the exhibitions. Four exhibitions will be held at the Ligurian museum this year.

It begins on Friday, March 24, 2017: the season opener is Nutrica-Zea (curated by Tiziana Tacconi and Laura Tonani of the Brera Academy), a three-day event-performance that will consist of a photographic review and a shared art performance that crowns a project begun last year and divided into various phases that followed the development of a corn crop (from sowing to shelling through germination, growth, and harvesting). The work is, in essence, the very cycle of maize cultivation, accompanied in all its phases by music, celebrations, ritual dances (“Zea” is nothing but the scientific name of the maize plant - Zea mays - and “Nutrica” is ancient form for “nourish,” from the Latin “nutricare”).

With the second exhibition, we enter the season: opening on Friday, March 31, is the exhibition Tano D’Amico. The Struggle of Women (curated by the Fosdinovo Resistance Archives, through May 28), which will show the public shots by the Sicilian photographer dedicated to the battles women waged to win rights and improve their condition. The head of the Archives of Resistance who oversaw the project, Simona Mussini, has announced an itinerary that will be able to surprise visitors: Tano D’Amico, who calls himself a “street photographer,” began his career during the years of protest, and his photographs, whose subjects are above all the last and the marginalized, are endowed with a strong charge of social denunciation that is always topical and will be well present in the Castelnuovo exhibition as well. An event, therefore, of great topicality: details have not yet been revealed, but expectations are quite high. Moreover, on the sidelines of the exhibition, an event has also been announced that will feature Tano D’Amico himself, who will travel to Castelnuovo Magra for a meeting with the public.

Tano D'Amico, Ragazza e carabinieri a Roma (1977)
Tano D’Amico, Girl and Carabinieri in Rome (1977)

Tano D'Amico, Operaie in piazza a Torino (1980)
Tano D’Amico, Workers in the Square in Turin (1980)

Instead, the last two exhibitions, both curated by theChatwin Cultural Association (artistic director, Luciana Damiano, was present in Castelnuovo this morning), will be dedicated to the theme of travel. The first will be an exhibition of photographs by Mario Dondero, the great photographer who passed away in 2015, and will be held from June 2 to July 2: Homage to Prague, in the Footsteps of Utz is a revisitation of the project of the same name that Dondero proposed in 2008 in Genoa, at Palazzo Rosso, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the publication of Utz, a historical novel by Bruce Chatwin published in 1988 and set in 1960s Prague. The protagonist is a porcelain collector, Kaspar Utz, who collects his pieces in pro-Soviet Czechoslovakia and is forced to come to terms with the Communist regime in order to continue his activities (the story is inspired by the real-life meeting between Chatwin himself and Rudolf Just, a Prague porcelain collector whom the writer visited in 1967 when he worked for Sotheby’s, the well-known English auction house). Dondero’s photographs that will be exhibited at Castelnuovo are all images of Prague and follow in the footsteps of the protagonist of Chatwin’s novel: Dondero, as the curators state, “captured gestures and architecture of Prague to render a frank and engaging portrait of it, unveiled its soul by reviewing the echoes and glimmers of its civilization, yesterday crushed by political, ethnic and religious overpowering, today by the commodity of globalization.”

Uno degli scatti di Praga di Mario Dondero
One of Mario Dondero’s Prague shots

Dondero’s exhibition will act as a bit of an “opener” to the latest review, Bruce Chatwin. The journey continues, from July 8 to October 8. We will see Chatwin, a great writer best known for his travel stories, in the special (and for many certainly unusual) guise of a photographer. We do not yet know the details of the exhibition, but Luciana Damiano let us know this morning that it will be an unprecedented exhibition, with different material being shown to the public for the first time. The exhibition is designed to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the publication of Chatwin’s first as well as perhaps best-known book, 1977’s In Patagonia, and among its goals is to reveal Chatwin’s conception of photography: a way of knowing and remembering, a “narrative tool,” the curators state, “that often revealed a visual force that could also be read in the stories he wrote.” The exhibition, which is also an important operation to recover hitherto unknown material (Luciana Damiano let us know that the organizers are working on Bruce Chatwin’s original films ), will also display objects that belonged to the author of In Patagonia. Finally, on the sidelines of the event, there may be a meeting with the writer’s widow, Elizabeth Chatwin.

Ritratto fotografico di Bruce Chatwin
Photographic portrait of Bruce Chatwin

“The exhibitions will certainly deal with sensitive, current and contemporary topics that we live every day,” concluded the Castelnuovo administration, adding that “they will be explosive exhibitions, animated by great passion and enthusiasm on the part of the curators: we are convinced that art can serve to give us answers, so we have tried to create a sort of street made of art and culture, which can speak to the entire public.” So the appointment is in a few weeks: we will see if the events will live up to expectations.

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