Friday, October 23, 2015

Venice and the Cruise Ships - Blocked Gianni Berengo Gardin Exhibition Opens in Piazza San Marco

Venice and the Cruise Ships by Gianni Berengo Gardin - Courtesy Fondazione Forma
(Venice, Italy) Gianni Berengo Gardin, whom The Telegraph called "Italy's Greatest Photographer," was supposed to have an exhibition opening at Palazzo Ducale on September 19, 2015 about the cruise ships in Venice entitled, Monsters in Venice. Luigi Brugnaro, the controversial new mayor of Venice, and a strong supporter of the cruise ship industry, postponed the exhibition to coincide with an exhibit about his own plans for the lagoon. Berengo Gardin would not accept those conditions, and the show was cancelled.

In addition, Brugnaro accused Berengo Gardin of "distorting" the photos to make the cruise ships appear larger by using a telephoto lens, prompting all sorts of ordinary citizens to display their own photos and professional photographers to challenge what he said. Even further, Mayor Brugnaro accused Berengo Gardin of "denigrating" Venice -- the mayor also used the same word to publicly attack me, Cat Bauer, on Twitter -- as well as other people who care deeply about the welfare of La Serenissima. .

Gianni Berengo Gardin courtesy of Forma Foundation
Yesterday, October 22, 2015, the Gianni Berengo Gardin VENEZIA E LE GRANDI NAVI exhibition opened 200 meters away from Palazzo Ducale in the Olivetti Showroom designed by the renowned architect, Carlo Scarpa, in Piazza San Marco. The line waiting outside the door proved that banning an exhibition is sure to draw a crowd.


The exhibition was presented by FAI - Fondo Ambiente Italiano, the Italian Environment Fund, sort of like an Italian National Trust, in collaboration with Forma per la Fotografia e Contrasto, and was curated by Alessandra Mauro. Andrea Carandini, the President of FAI stated, "The aim of this exhibition is not alimentary improvisations and controversy, but to open a new phase for Venice, even with opponents, which is, finally, not based on gossip, closed minds and partial studies, but on as much research as possible about the miraculous, complicated and fragile natural system, and the social and cultural development of the lagoon city, viewed as a wonderful complex." FAI hopes to ignite a discussion about excessive tourism all throughout Italy. 


Venezia e le Grandi Navi by Gianni Berengo Gardin - courtesy Fondazione Forma
The 85-year-old Gianni Berengo Gardin wrote a letter to Mayor Luigi Brugnaro -- a wealthy, conservative businessman who made his money with a temp agency called "Umana Holding," or "Human Holding," who was born on the mainland and does not live in Venice, a father of five daughters by two different wives who yanked books about tolerance and different kinds of families from Venice's pre-schools, and whose Beat-poet father was the leader of the factory workers in Marghera -- which expresses how it feels to come under personal attack by the new mayor. I have translated it into American English (for example, Italians don't say "shoot yourself in the foot," it's more like, "hit yourself in the foot with a hoe"), below:

SOME THINGS I WOULD LIKE TO SAY TO THE MAYOR

by Gianni Berengo Gardin

I'm very sorry when someone shoots themselves in the foot; therefore, I'm sorry for the mayor of Venice. I'm also very grateful because blocking my exhibit at Palazzo Ducale did me a big favor: all the Italian newspapers and foreign press (Le Monde, The Guardian, El Pais, The New York Times, and many others) have written about it extensively. And probably, if it were not for all this attention from the press, the exhibition would be seen by far fewer people.

I must also be grateful to Celentano (the best-selling Italian singer Adriano Celentano, who strongly supported Berengo Gardin) and all artists, architects, intellectuals and ordinary citizens who have stood up for me. I must also thank Roberto Koch and Alessandra Mauro of the Forma Foundation, who curated the exhibition and the book; without their commitment this exhibition would not be possible. And naturally, FAI.

I am doubly happy that FAI invited me to display my photos at the Olivetti Store in Piazza San Marco: I photographed several works for the designs of the architect Carlo Scarpa, and for over 15 years worked for Olivetti. 

Mayor Brugnaro insulted me several times: he called me a "loser", an "intellectual hack" and a "Solone." He said that I denigrated Venice. He called me an "untouchable" -- I didn't know that, and I thank him for educating me -- and he attacked me for having a double last name.  

My family has been Venetian for five generations. We had a store of Venetian crafts and glass pearls in Calle Larga San Marco. The Berengo Gardin store was cited in 1905 by the writer Frederick Rolfe Baron Corvo in his book about Venice, The Desire and Pursuit of the Whole (1909, Cassell, London, 1934). My grandparents' house overlooked Piazzetta dei Leoncini; my father was practically born in Piazza San Marco; and, as for me, even if I was born in S. Margherita Ligure, I lived in Venice for 30 years. My wife is Venetian and my children were born in Venice. 

For this reason, the problem of the cruise ships passing through the Venice lagoon is particularly close to my heart: because I feel venezianissimo (Venetian to the extreme).

Maybe the mayor does not know that I also dedicated as many as 10 books to Venice, exalting in every way her beauty, starting with one of my first, Venise de Saison, published in 1965.

Next, regarding the accusation that I used some kind of "telephoto lens" to create artificial effects, I would stress the fact that I even had to use a wide-angle lens because the ships were so big they did not fit into the viewfinder of the camera. Only in some cases did I use a 90 millimeter lens, which is not telephoto. 

To conclude, Mayor Brugnaro must know that the Italian Constitution, Article 21, says: "Everyone has the right to freely express their thoughts in speech, writing or any other means of communication." 


Venezia e Le Grandi Navi by Gianni Berengo Gardin - courtesy Fondazione Forma
The photo exhibition of Gianni Berengo Gardin Venezia e Le Grandi Navi runs from October 22, 2015 until January 6, 2016.

Gianni Berengo Gardin
Venezia e le grandi navi
October 22, 2015 to January 6, 2016

Olivetti Showroom
Piazza San Marco 101
Venice
Tel. 041 5228387 
fainegoziolivetti@fondoambiente.it

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

1 comment:

  1. Yesterday, October 22, 2015, the Gianni Berengo Gardin VENEZIA E LE GRANDI NAVI exhibition opened 200 meters away from Palazzo Ducale in the Olivetti Showroom designed by the renowned architect, Carlo Scarpo, in Piazza San Marco. The line waiting outside the door proved that banning an exhibition is sure to draw a crowd.

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