WATER AND FOOD IN VENICE
a history of the Lagoon and the City
September 26, 2015 – February 14, 2016
Venice, Doges Palace, Doge’s Apartment
The itinerary is divided into five thematic sections with the aim of underlining the unique nature of Venice, and the constant efforts its inhabitants made to make the city into the one we know it today.
The first section, The Lagoon is transformed, uses three-dimensional models to illustrate the morphological and hydraulic transformation processes of the territory that endemically conditioned not only food production, water supplies but also communication paths to and from the mainland.
The great historical maps in this section (Anzolo Emo, Disegno della laguna di Venezia, 1763) accompany the narration of these complex territorial changes.
The second section, Water and Food in the Lagoon and on the Mainland, not only offers an overview of the difficulty of food production in lands washed by salty waters, but also describes retail and its protagonists frutaroli (greengrocers), pistori (pastry makers) and fishermen.
Tintoretto’s monumental painting on loan from the Academy Galleries, (Jacopo Tintoretto, The Creation of the Animals, 1550-1553) also offers a sample of the species present in the amphibious Venetian environment, characterised by an incredible variety of fish and birds.
The third section Banquets, Parades, Games and Celebrations uses multiple archive sources to offer an overview of the theme of food from a social perspective, a highly topical theme in the year of the Milan Expo. The local festivals, social events and occasions when food becomes a pretext for gatherings and comparison are illustrated with a series of representative paintings including Convito in Casa Nani alla Giudecca (Pietro Longhi, attr., 1775).
Architecture and Food then focuses on buildings that were used for the harvest and distribution of food resources: monasteries, military garrisons, hospitals and inns. These numerous documents describe a detailed system of exchange and rules that were part of the Venetian lifestyle and a guarantee of their prosperity (Insegna dell’arte dei Pestrineri, 16th cent.).
The virtual reconstruction of “Cantina Do Spade”, which still exists today in the district of San Polo in Venice, offers the visitor the opportunity to have an evocative experience of how a client asking for food and lodging was actually welcomed in the historical inn in 1754.
The fifth and last section, In the Middle of Water/without Water, describes the paradox of a city that, to quote Marin Sanudo, “is in the water and has no water”. The water supply system is described with a series of maps and iconographic images illustrating how water was transported from the mainland to the lagoon (Giovanni Grevembroch, Deficienza provveduta, second half of eighteenth century).
Published by Marsilio the exhibition catalogue has an important preface by Salvatore Settis, remembering the close ties between the city and its lagoon, “understood as a living city wall whose religious nature is explicitly compared and assimilated to those of the religious city walls of the homeland in a city on the mainland”.