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THE RESTLESS GLANCE. ROVERETO 1914-1918. A DIARY OF PHOTOGRAPHY AND ART

Roberto M. Iras Baldessari, Treno dei feriti

An exhibition at Palazzo Alberti Poja that reconstructs the atmosphere of the city of Rovereto during the First World War.
The Rovereto Civic Museum Foundation presents The Restless Glance: Rovereto 1914-1918 - A Diary of Photography and Art, at Palazzo Alberti from 4 October 2014 to 15 March 2015.

A wealth of photographic, graphic and pictorial documentation is displayed in the exhibition, divided into several sections exploring different periods of the town during the Great War. The exhibition is curated by Mario Cossali, Paola Pizzamano, Alessio Quercioli and Maurizio Scudiero and was organised by the Foundation in collaboration with the Italian War History Museum and the Girolamo Tartarotti Public Library.
"Rovereto is represented on the eve of the conflict," explains Pizzamano, "with its inhabitants and daily life; then space is given to the military city, to the empty city, to the bombed city, to the soldiers, to the irredentist volunteers, to the martyrs, and then to the exiles and prisoners.

What emerges is a closer but restless look at Rovereto before and during the Great War. The story unfolds not only through documentary images and witness accounts about the city, but also through artefacts, diaries, and especially drawings, sculptures, prints and paintings. Fortunato Depero, Iras Baldessari, Piero Coelli, Francesco Trentini, Mario Sironi, Giovanni Moschini, Umberto Maganzini, Giorgio Wenter, Luigi Bonazza, Carlo Cainelli, Giovanni Tiella, Ernesto Armani, Gustavo Borzaga, Hans Lietzmann, Elio Valentinelli, Gino Barbieri, Oddone Tomasi and Luigi Dalla Laita evoke the lives of soldiers, the wounded, the evacuees, and the interned of Mittendorf and Katzenau: the apocalypse. The photographs and artwork, some unpublished, come from the Foundation of the Rovereto Civic Museum, the Italian First World War History Museum, the Girolamo Tartarotti Public Library and numerous private collections."

The exhibition presents a kind of "war diary" of Rovereto: a mosaic of images reconstructs the disoriented face of a "denied" city in which war has settled in, and of a territory wounded daily, emptied of its inhabitants and repopulated by new ones in uniform.

"Rovereto, with its spacious surroundings, empty of its people and deprived of normal social life," continues Cossali, "is suspended in a strange time in which nothing seems to happen, but at any moment it could be overwhelmed by violence and unspeakable destruction. The area is occupied by the Austro-Hungarian military, there is no trace of the civilians. We are faced with an unreal city, as Eliot would have said, engaged in an unpredictable waiting game. Documents, photographs, paintings and artefacts rebuild the profile of an unknown Rovereto, trapped in the feeling that anything could happen, although the decisive hour never seems to come. Extraordinary unpublished material, mostly of Austro-Hungarian origin, introduces us to a largely unknown story, set in the areas of Rovereto and Lagarina, and in the territory of Katzenau, where many people from Rovereto were forced into exile."

"The intent is not to propose yet another show about the First World War," explains Quercioli, "but to focus on certain themes of the transformation of the city and its inhabitants. The bombing of Sarajevo, the outbreak of war, mobilisation, and then, in May 1915, the exodus of civilians, the bombing, destruction and requisitions: all of these are the many chapters of a story which tells of Rovereto's rapid and dramatic change from an important economic and cultural centre into a ghost town inhabited by soldiers and devastated by bombs. The narrated voices of civilians, soldiers, prisoners and refugees breathe life into a valuable memory, to be shared on the occasion of the Centenary."

The exhibition is open at Palazzo Alberti from 4 October 2014 to 15 March 2015. Time: Tues - Sun 9.00 to 12.00, 15.00 to 18.00. Closed on Mondays.