Written by – Filippo Villani

Translated by – Elena D’Ottavio


English version here: http://revolart.it/bologna-shoah-memorial-when-the-italian-architecture-remembers-with-elegance/

Too often, the bustle of city life swallows up people, forcing them to focus only on their working lives. They live caged in a system that diverts significant time, but in a way that involves the opportunity of freedom of thought.
In the contemporary metropolis, however, there are also some places that can enable a genuine area of ​​reflection: Art islands in the chaos. They can be enclosed buildings (temples of the Muses, i.e. museums), or works to be admired outdoors.


This is the case of Bologna, who gave birth to a new sculpture on January 27. Unfortunately, the national media have not considered this “latest entry”, except specialist magazines and some newspapers.
A completely unjustified move, since the object in question is perhaps the first creation which can be considered incisive about the Holocaust, on the Italian soil: a structure from the monumental size, in addition to the stones of stumbling in Liguria and the Monument to the Deportee in Sesto San Giovanni.


This creation is situated between Via Carracci and the bridge of Via Matteotti, close to the new high-speed train, first by setting an example of Land Art for its intrinsic relationship with the dynamism of the surrounding environment.
It consists of a pair of front COR-TEN steel blocks, converging dimensions of 10×10 m, with inside a grid of plates which intersect at right angles.
Besides having a “sacral” function, one can become aware of how the sculpture is equipped with an immense symbolic power: precisely in its abstraction, there are reported the essential characteristics of an (in)human tragedy, that can shake and think even the less sensitive. Just think of the path at the center of the structure, which starts from a width of 1.60 m and then shrink to 80 cm, giving a sense of oppression and distress; or note the empty cells, clearly reminiscent of the camp dorms.

In addition, the paving of this part of the work is made in the railway ballast, in order to remind the Judenrampe electrical circuits specially built for the convoys that transported Jews to the two of the Auschwitz concentration camp (Stammlager and Birkenau).  To play a further role in the fruition of the monument is the light. During the day is relevant only the solar illumination, which allows a contemplative stasis individual; at night contributes rather artificial, located in the space around and between the two blocks, sending their magnificence. Finally, you have to keep account of another very important factor: the structure material corrodes in the open, meaning the sense of History and being, i.e. the succession of contingent events compared with existence.

Putting this work in dialogue with the European art scene, you can not help but think of his resemblance to the famous Berlin Memorial (“Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas”, opened in 2005), even if the “weight” is in this case distributed over several marble units and disorientation is given by their number, to the point that they appear as fragments of an infinite assembly.

The common point is however more pronounced in the civic-social aim: the sculptures, in their being of matter, are real blocks for our memory, presences that do not will and should never forget.

As for data on Project Management of Bologna Holocaust Memorial, all started from a public competition announced on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz (January 27, 2015) organized by the Jewish Community of Bologna and funded by the Foundation of Monte di Bologna and Ravenna.


The commission, chaired by Peter Eisenman (architect of Berlin’s Memorial), selected from 248 proposals the Roman team “SET Architects”, composed by Lorenzo Catena, Chiara Kitchen, Onorato Manno and Andrea Tanci.
This group, founded in 2015, finalize the architectural design to a theoretical and emotional spirit, aiming at abs-trahere the essential characteristics of used items (with a particular attention to the environmental sustainability of the materials) to deliver certain concepts but not giving up hit the sensitivity of the user.

Finally, it has to do also with an example of economic virtuosity in the name of culture: the project was delivered on time, a year and is a symbol of perfect coordination between administration and art.

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