Photo: Archivio Meeting

Exhibitions at the Meeting 2022: The crack and the passion

Thirteen exhibitions covering the most diverse themes: the centenary of Giussani, Pessoa, Families for Hospitality, science, photography... Here is what we will find among the pavilions of the Rimini Meeting.
Davide Perillo

"It is the centenary of his birth. It was inconceivable that, in addition to the meetings about him, there would not be something else, a physical place that can be seen and visited." Thus ‘Giussani 100’, the virtual exhibition on the founder of CL, which since its online publication in May has already attracted thousands of virtual visits, will also become one of the main events of the upcoming Rimini Meeting, kicking off on August 20 (until the 25) with its title taken from Fr. Giussani himself: "A Passion for Man".

In Rimini, visitors will find a version of the exhibition "taken in its entirety from the one set up for the web, but slightly adapted," explains Alessandra Vitez, manager of exhibitions at the Meeting. "In making it physical, we wanted first of all to let him speak, to allow people to encounter him. Not everyone at the Meeting will have had the chance to meet him. We would like this to happen through his words, certain fundamental moments of his life and some crucial points of his thought: the self, the relationship with the ‘You,’ friendship...."

These are themes and words that, in some way, will act as a pivot for the six days of the Meeting, helping explore its title and follow the common thread that links the meetings, performances and, indeed, exhibitions. This year there are thirteen exhibitions, including a large section dedicated to science. During these months of preparation, says Vitez, work has been set in motion "to try to understand whether passion for man is just a feeling or if it is is an experience, something that arises from the relationship between one's desire and reality. In these exhibitions, we do not want to analyze what it means to ‘be passionate about man,’ but to understand what the attraction that moves us is when, in the impact with problems and circumstances, we discover something that makes us more alive, more attentive. We would like visitors to be able to meet people who are passionate about what they do, and to become passionate in turn."

Examples? The path created by the Families for Hospitality, who are celebrating their 40 year anniversary in 2022. They have asked 14 artists from different spheres (from writer Daniele Mencarelli to photographer Marina Lorusso, from actor Giovanni Scifoni to musician Marcelo Cesena, and many others) to meet the association to recount their story in their own way, according to their own gaze. "What came out is an exhibition that has a very particular title: 'Not how, but what,'" says Vitez. "They don't want us just to see how foster care can be experienced, but what awakens in them that gratuitousness that has opened them up to foster care and adoption." Something that touches their humanity.

In the same way, whoever visits "If I Want, I Want the Infinite," dedicated to the great Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa, will find themselves faced not so much with a literary analysis or research on the poetics of a complex and extremely rich author who wrote in the guise of dozens of heteronyms, but first and foremost with "the experience of a group of university students who encountered him and his works, were struck by them and worked to explore the impact he has had within themselves." Pessoa "has a great seriousness in his way of looking at life. He has a gaze that gets to the bottom of things and of himself, bringing out enormous questions and desires: Who am I? What is my task?", wrote Leonor Abranches Pinto, a medical student and one of the curators of the exhibition. "He interests me because these are questions that touch me." And it is "this encounter made by these young people that will reach the visitors and allow them, in turn, to encounter Pessoa," Vitez observed.

Other exhibitions were also born from the same dynamic: an encounter, a very human one, between the curators and the subjects. Sometimes this happened in person, as in the case of the American photographer Gus Powell, who with "Family Car Trouble" will bring to a series of shots centered on the family and the relationship with the father to Rimini (the exhibition is curated by Luca Fiore, Tracce journalist and art critic). In other cases, the encounter has been through witnesses and works, as was the case with the jurists of the Libera Associazione Forense who have organized "Sub tutela Dei," an exhibition on Rosario Livatino, the magistrate killed by the Mafia in 1990 and beatified on May 9, 2021. In the exhibition’s five rooms, in addition to the story of the life, career and martyrdom in odium fidei of the "Boy Judge," there will also be testimonies of former Mafiosi converted by the sacrifice of their own victim. Furthermore, there will also be the opportunity to get to know another new Blessed closely: Armida Barelli, an important figure in the birth of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart. "Nothing Would Have Been Possible Without Her," the exhibit curated by the Giuseppe Toniolo Institute, stems from a graphic novel that traces the life of one of the sharpest Italian intellectuals of the last century.

Addressing current events and Putin's Russia is the exhibition "Men Despite Everything," a narrative rich with testimonies and documents dedicated to Memorial, the independent public organization established in 1989 to preserve the memory of the victims of Soviet repressions (Andrei Sakharov was among the founders) and liquidated by the government in December 2021. The underlying theme here is the relationship between power and the individual, between a system built to annihilate freedom and the irreducible resistance of those who do not "give up being alive." It is hard not to be touched by this.

Next we come to science where, as per tradition, meetings and workshops will also take place, and visitors will be able to visit "In oculis facta," the exhibition by the Euresis Association and Camplus on "the role of images in scientific knowledge." From cave paintings to the latest hyper-technological telescopes, our knowledge of reality has always come through the ability to reproduce what we see. Indeed, from the "elaboration of ever more perfect eyes within a cosmos in which there is always something more to be seen," to use a phrase from Teilhard de Chardin that kicks off exhibit. But even here, Vitez notes, the heart of the exhibition is not just the desire to understand how tools and technologies evolve: "One of the scientists working on it, days ago, said to me: it would be nice if visitors, as they leave, could say, 'If I look at reality this way, I learn. I discover something more, about myself and about things.'"

The other exhibitions range from the art of "Gino Severini" (and his splendid mosaic Via Crucis made in Cortona immediately after World War II) to the works of six figures from twentieth century Italy explored in "From Martini to Guttuso" (curated by the Testori Association); to "Ascoli, written in stone," dedicated to the city that Guido Piovene indicated as "among the most beautiful in Italy not so much for this or that monument, but for its ensemble, the enchantment that comes from nothing and everything," to Giovannino Guareschi's excursions along the Via Emilia ("Route 77, three years later"); to the figure, still to be discovered, of Fr. Emilio de Roja, a priest from Friuli who dedicated his life to troubled young people ("Always building").

These are places, spaces and events imagined first and foremost so that something can happen. "Ultimately, what we would like is for a crack to open among the visitors, capable of letting in a measure greater than ours," says Vitez. "I expect that those who come to see the exhibitions, meeting truly passionate people, may be reawakened in their passion. And I expect to see it because I need it, too, all the time."