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Holocaust Memorial Day :: Witnesses of Witnesses



Holocaust Memorial Day :: Witnesses of Witnesses

The Italian Cultural Institute and the Consulate General of Italy in San Francisco commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day on 27 January, remembering the tragedy of the Holocaust that occurred during World War II with the screening of the video Witnesses of  Witnesses (Testimoni dei testimoni), created by Studio Azzurro to document the exhibition created at Palazzo delle Esposizione in 2019.

The project was born from the idea of ​​some students who participated in the Journey of Memory to Auschwitz and from the will of the Municipality of Rome. Witness Generation is the name given to this group of highly motivated young people who, at the time of their meeting with Studio Azzurro, had hypothesized an experiential path to be proposed to the public to experiment with new languages ​​in order to raise awareness. Witness Generation was born to take charge of the transmission of the memory of witnesses who survived the extermination camps, so that the expression "not to forget" is not reduced to a formula of consolation. After the first Journey of Memory, the group decided to repeat the experience and to support the elderly Witnesses in telling "what happened." The exhibition born from the meeting of Studio Azzurro for the spaces of Palazzo delle Esposizioni, consisted of several installation environments at the center of which were placed the voices of surviving Witnesses and the testimonies of young people, the Witnesses of Witnesses.

The video is in Italian with English subtitles. Required registration is free of charge.




The environment created constituted a moment of further reflection for Studio Azzurro: how to reach the sensitivity of the people who would enter that space? How can we not invest them with the shocking vision of the already known, with the risk of indulging the addiction to horror? How to "authenticate" again those images perhaps never really "seen" and yet seen many and many times? In the language developed by Studio Azzurro, recourse to asynchrony and the unexpected association between image and sound is frequent. In this work we felt the need to push this possibility to the limit, to the point of completely renouncing the correspondence between sound and visual. The choice, which took place during the process of elaborating the documents and defining the environments, led to some sound experiments and as many visual solutions that saw the visitor lean out on a territory of close encounter but always "missing" a part of the message. Precisely that apparent "lack" made it possible to develop audio stories, photographic appearances and video sequences in an unprecedented relationship and for this reason suitable, we believe, to restore the auroral condition to those documents so intimate that are necessarily "exposed" to protect memory.



The video document proposed here takes on more forms of memory, weaves them into a layered fabric, similar to the one with which everyone's personal memory is "naturally" built: silent images that are responsible for showing the point of no return of the encounter with the unspeakable reality of what has been, with the visible but also with the invisible, guarded by the voices of surviving witnesses, including the aforementioned Sami Modiano and Tatiana Bucci, who, together with others, physically met the students in the Journeys of Memory. They hand us what we could not see and which, without their broken voices, would have been lost in the sticky lake of forgetfulness. To act as a counterpoint, the voices and faces of today's students who declare their intention to save us from the lethal forgetfulness of what happened, aware that only with the assumption of the memory of those who have lived can one try to give form and substance to the daily action that builds a possibility of a future that does not replicate "what has been".

The video document opens with an aerial image of the "Auschwitz complex": 3 major camps, 47 sub-camps for 40 square kilometers. A great machine, structured with diligent and geometric precision. Cheering voices rise from the silence, with a rhythm equal to that of a running train. It is the exalted rhythm of crowds cheering for the speeches of Hitler and Mussolini. We are on the train to Auschwitz and on the voice of Hitler who goes away, we enter the camp and instead we find the voices of surviving witnesses. Fragments of memory, painful, unbearable, emerge from the images together with the essential data that give the measure of the "extermination machine". The images become paradoxical slides in motion, defective in showing in the empty moment what one does not want to see and finally jam on two twins, on their looks that will forever question the viewer. The faces of the Witnesses of the witnesses return and dwell on more everyday details, those that almost miraculously allow us to approximate, at least with the senses of the imagination, to the memory of the other.


Date: Da Wednesday, January 27, 2021 a Thursday, January 28, 2021

Organized by : Italian Cultural Institute SF

Entrance : Free