The first edition of the artistic and cultural festival has looked at the Great War as an historical event full of ‘B sides’ not yet investigated. The Great War has been a violent social and cultural ‘bomb’ that hit civilians, nationalities, individuals, groups and families, as well as a watershed that changed dimensions and proportions and a strong shift of myths, rituals, values, identity. It has left behind many legacies that still determine, today, our contemporary experience.
The reflection on the legacies and on the trauma of the First World War has been developed through the construction of site-specific installations of interactive, relational and conceptual art, that have been put in significant places of the conflict. Moreover, it has approached international contemporary artists, psychoanalysts and researchers who have reflected on the legacies of war.
The main theme of the edition was “the border”: borders, displacement and fragmentation of the borders, suffering in the border. The unifying element in the language of forms, was the cube.
Experience and Poverty of War
An international art exhibition, in which contemporary artists has dealt with the Great War. In the design of the exhibition, the visitor’s attention was focused on the contrast between the experience of war and its lack of communication. The ‘poverty of war’ appears in the loss of the capability to transmit this tragic experience to others.
Connecting images of the war time with contemporary works of art, the social evolutions that have happened during a century has been revealed, showing us how the tragic event of the First World War has been assimilated.
Citizen-Gate is a contemporary (interactive and relational) art installation, that has connected the cities of Trieste and Piran creating a real ‘space-time gate’ through which people could communicate with each other, experiencing the border from a new perspective. The cities of Trieste and Piran were chosen because they were symbol of the ethnic confusion caused by the displacement of the border between Italy and the Austrian-Hungarian Empire during the first world war. Two cities that once were linked as parts of the same empire, today belong to different nations: Italy and Slovenia).
The site-specific contemporary art installation Memory-Space was born from the desire to express the variety of meanings underlying the word ‘border’. This was a central element within the First World War for many people who lived in the geographical boundary between state and state. The border is investigated by the installation in four specific dimensions: the border between the public and the private, between the enemy’s space and the ally’s space, between truth and illusion, between past and present.
The installation was built on the Carso upland, between the National Redipuglia Memorial and a ‘Dolina’ used in the First World War as a trench: the Carso was a borderline territory, severely torn from both the Italians and the Austro-Hungarians during the conflict. More than half of the people who lived near the Carso have died in the Great war, and the upland’s rugged ground has been kneaded with their blood. The artist wanted to remember the loss of life of this territory, by designing this new monument: it is a symbolic red cube, whose volume can contain the blood of 100,000 deaths (those victims who were buried in the famous Redipuglia Memorial). The installation reproduces in a conceptual and figurative key the volume of blood shed by the people of the Carsic region during the first conflict, becoming a new ‘monument’ based on the idea of organic and alive memory.
Psyche and body to strain
The Director of the Psychoanalytic Institute of Eastern Europe explains how the war constitutes a trauma for both individuals and groups, how the trauma is inherited by the next generations and how art can be a tool for the processing of this trauma.
In conclusion, Mladen Miljanović, a Bosnian artist who experienced the Balkan conflict and is now famous all around the world as he has also been the representative of his country at the Venice Biennale, explains how the Balkans conflict was central in his work and how the artist deals with the theme of cultural identity (identity which is often made uncertain, wiped out or deleted from the wars).
The Body of Human Memories
Human and artistic expressions at the time of the Great War were the subject of the conference, with the aim of investigating the body as a source of the memory of the First World War, through crossed perspective between literature, philosophy and aesthetic, history of art. Starting the analysis from artistic expressions, memoirs and diaries, the conference has been focused on the relationship that human beings had with the Great War, seeing the body at the same time as a ‘cognitive tool’, as ‘narration’s object’, and as ‘voice of the memory’.
The experience of the Great War from overseas
A series of meetings with Jonathan R. Casey: at the head of the largest entity in the world that studies, stores, and displays the Great War, the archivist and curator has narrated the ways in which the US National WW1 Museum and Archive expresses the multiple facets of the American experience of the First World War, showing a preview of some unpublished images from the famous Edward Jones Research Center Archive.
Site-specific performances and original dramaturgies
“The war at home”, “In-Crosses in war”, “Call to life” on the role of women during the First World War, “Bodies” and “Numbers in the mud”: a cycle of five performances, based on descriptive documents and memoirs coming from five different war regions of Friuli Venezia Giulia. The dramaturgies merge together touching and genuine memories of the people of the areas involved in the conflict, and the literary suggestions of the great “voices of the human” who passed through the first World War (Lussu, Celine, Remarque); presenting a ‘poor’ and essential performative style, highly expressive and based on the character of voice and facial expressions.