Venice, Doge’s Palace, Doge’s Apartment
4 November 2017 – 28 January 2018
NOTICE: we inform our visitors that on Friday 19 January 2018 Palazzo Ducale will remain closed to the public due to an institutional event hosted. We apologize for the inconvenience.
The words in this long narrative are the raw materials with which everything began: representative of the events occurring in this place, they are at the same time highly symbolic and evocative of that manufacturing ferment which had its greatest development in 1965 with the presence of more than two hundred and twenty companies and well over thirty thousand workers.
Water, coal, iron, chemicals, plastics, textiles, glass are the raw materials associated with the principal productions and processes employed in Porto Marghera’s industries, many of them highly innovative.
The exhibition is planned as an imaginative and non-chronological journey amid the materials and the significance that each of these has had for the history of Porto Marghera.
A room in the Doge’s Apartment is devoted to each material and for each room there is also a work of contemporary art that is highly representative of the artist’s research into that material.
Visitors to the Doge’s Palace will be able to follow a fascinating itinerary among the works of some of the most important artists on the international contemporary scene, many of them on show in Venice for the first time: Jannis Kounellis, Pino Pascali, Gilberto Zorio, Tony Cragg, Mario Merz, Daniel Spoerri, Cagnaccio di San Pietro, Emilio Vedova, and the younger Julia Mangold, Anne-Karin Furunes, Sissi and Colombo Manuelli.
The protagonists of the exhibition are thus the materials and the artists in the creation of a circular narrative, without overlooking the stories of the men who have animated the Porto Marghera site and lived through its alternating fortunes. The works are thus also associated with historical photographs and contemporary artists’ photographs; a section, curated by the team of Professor Gianpiero Brunetta of the University of Padua, will be dedicated to cinema. Historical documents, photographic sequences, advertising and some extraordinary period films from the archives of the Istituto Luce at Cinecittà will offer an account of that extraordinary, sometimes controversial, ferment of men and products that animated the site until the late 1970s.
The need for a new large port and commercial area in Venetian territory emerged in the late nineteenth century, when the visionary maritime captain, Luciano Petit, proposed it be located on the Bottenighi mudbanks, a mostly marshy area at the edge of the Venetian mainland.
The project, initially pushed forward by Piero Foscari and then supported by the Venetian bourgeoisie with Giuseppe Volpi above all, together with the mayor, Grimani –and implemented with the support of the large SADE hydro-electric power group (of which Volpi was president) and of the Banca Commerciale Italiana – led in 1917 to the signing of an agreement between the State, the City of Venice and Società Porto Industriale, which effectively decreed its establishment.
From the outset, Porto Marghera became a magnet for new businesses and young industries and in the following years attracted the metallurgical (aluminium) and chemical (coal and gas distillation) industries, oil and gas refineries, steel and shipbuilding, and much more, to the point that this industrial complex represented a unique centre for the Italian economy of the time. Today, these activities can be read as an astonishing example of entrepreneurial vision, of foresight and innovation, in view also of the hoped-for renovation of the area, which still retains its potential as a strategic location for productive and commercial activities, but also for cultural ones.
The exhibition will explore all of this without, however, betraying the fundamental aim represented by both the need to tell the story of Porto Marghera in this important centenary, and the opportunity to attract the attention and interest of the younger generations. It will thus not be a mere re-reading of the past, but also, and above all, a starting point for thinking about the future.
Curated by Gabriella Belli, with the participation of Paolo Apice
Layout project by Daniela Ferretti