From 7 to 10 September, the Abruzzo capital hit by the earthquake in 2009 will host the third edition of Panorama: the widespread and nomadic exhibition curated by Cristiana Perrella. An ode to life

Both the reconstruction and restoration works are so meticulous as to risk freezing the city in a dimension of 'eternal return', so much the art, which glides in a widespread way in a large part of the centre, tries to shake creativity, regenerate energy and draw the boundaries of a future beyond time.

The first lines of the introduction are supported by L'Aquila, a land of great challenges (and fragility) devastated by the earthquake of April 6, 2009, and Panorama, the traveling exhibition project promoted by Italics, the consortium that brings together over sixty Italian galleries: it is in the capital of Abruzzo and under the curatorship of Cristiana Perrella, who from 7 to 10 September the third edition of the format tested in the previous ones by Vincenzo de Bellis will be planned.

The curator

Roman, a past at the Pecci Center in Prato and the Golinelli Foundation in Bologna, Cristiana Perrella confronts the complexity of the territory by leveraging her authorship strong>: listen to the context without lowering the works from above. As if to say that: "understanding means taking care of the other", a value at the basis of skills.

Cristina Perrella: "L'Aquila is a city that offers itself to a very strong reflection on the past", she says when she reached the phone, "because seeing the buildings all restored and shining at the same time, as they never are states before the earthquake, it is rather alienating”, a reflection that restores the state of affairs in an image from Midjourney rather than in high definition"

The people 'evacuated' almost fifteen years ago and now rooted elsewhere, are returning to live in the center very slowly: what will become of all this reconstructed space?

“L'Aquila would be a perfect widespread research centre: by strengthening the Gran Sasso Science Institute —the research institute and doctoral higher education born in 2012 and dependent on the national institute of nuclear physics— it could host an avant-garde experimentation center and become a meeting point between art and science”, imagines Cristiana Perrella.

A vision which, if well supported, would offer a natural model of virtuous urban development. But let's reopen our eyes and roll up our sleeves.

The exhibition

Panorama is a careful look at historical diversity, returned from the lens of galleries and gallery owners”, who, he explains, “have the aim of promote a story of Italy outside the traditional canons.

Procida and not Capri, Monopoli and not Lecce, L'Aquila and not Naples are all cities to be discovered".

Protagonists of and on the territory, the works - lent by the galleries or created ad hoc for the event -, the spaces - ancient, modern and contemporary -, but also the people and the poetics placed in dialogue with each other despite the differences.

Everything revolves around two keywords: memory and community. Because both, the city and the event, go beyond the individual dimension to build a collective story".

The title

Hence Wit(n)essing, the chosen title, a tribute to the feminist theorist, artist and psychoanalyst Bracha Ettinger, "with the intention of extending the concept of testimony, understood both as an affirmation of one's knowledge and as the transmission of a story", he declares in the press release.

"At the same time, for a city like L'Aquila, memory has a very special meaning: because the earthquake erased everything, from the memory of places to habits", which is everyday life of living. Of which we have traces only in memory.

The city

L'Aquila boasts important cultural institutions: "it is a university seat, it has a glorious Academy of Fine Arts, where Fabio Mauri taught and a Conservatory of very ancient musical tradition", and here is also the MuNDA, the National Museum of Abruzzo.

It was one of the capitals of the Bourbon Kingdom and there are extraordinary churches and basilicas such as those of San Silvestro, Santa Maria di Collemaggio and San Bernardino.

"Observing the landscape, what interests me is understanding how all this will come back to life", because despite the fascination exerted by the largest open-air restoration site in Europe, the risk of museumization of the work in progress, it is concrete.

"L'Aquila cannot return to life only through tourism: if not science yet, art today can lend a hand", helping the city to regain possession of its habits.

What to look for

“I concentrated on the historic center”, where the exhibition 'spreads': it all starts in Palazzo Rivera”, the main venue for the event, “a building of beginning of the eighteenth century, still a construction site”, to continue for another 18 stages, all different in typology.

“'Wit(n)essing' will occupy the halls of the Giorgio De Marchis Bonanni d'Ocre Foundation and Palazzo Ardinghelli, headquarters of the Maxxi, inaugurated two years ago.

The restoration workshop of a boy from L'Aquila and the historic Fratelli Nurzia café, which returned to activity in 2009 (the nougat of its own production is excellent), the Polarville bookshop, a vinyl store and a baker who will bake stamped bread (the work of an artist) during the days of the exhibition: a tribute to sociality, a fundamental value for filming.

Then we enter Marcello Mariani's studio, a former deconsecrated church which was almost destroyed by the earthquake, still protected by scaffolding”, many other places, although ready, are not usable because they have not been tested.

Works and artists

In all there are about sixty the artists involved.

“Among the works by galleries and produced ad hoc, that of Giuseppe Stampone”, the local artist who works on concept maps made with pen, “with Prometeo Gallery has put in relation to Joseph Beuys, Ettore Spalletti and Fabio Mauri, i.e. all the figures who made up the dimension of the Contemporary Abruzzo".

Then the wooden masterpieces of the fourteenth century exhibited alongside explorations by emerging young artists including Beatrice Marchi who reworks a song by Tupac Amaru with the help of a rap group Milanese.

“Jacopo Benassi will also be the protagonist together with the musicians of the Conservatory in a performance entitled 'Musica illiterate'”, among the artists who have chosen to work with the pentagram, a universal metaphor of community and sharing”, the orchestra and choir play and count together and for each other. And then again Carlo Orsi and Diego Perrone who are also the protagonists of an artistic short-circuit that unites the ancient and the contemporary.

"Although the earthquake remains an open wound, no one has made it the main theme: L'Aquila is a city where the desire to look ahead is felt very strongly", concludes Cristiana Perrella. “Life is stronger”. If only politics treasured it. —