By Anne Leader
Gianni Berengo Gardin’s series of photographs, “Monsters in Venice,” hauntingly captures the continuing confrontation between the tourist economy, as represented by huge cruise ships, and the protection of cultural patrimony. The twenty-seven black-and-white images were to be exhibited starting 18 September 2015 in Venice, but Luigi Brugnaro, the city’s new mayor told the president of the city’s museums that the show could not go on as planned at the Doge’s Palace. He wants the exhibition to coincide with the presentation of his government’s proposal to route ships to the port of Venice along the Canale Vittorio Emanuele III, a plan much criticized by environmentalists, preservationists, and news outlets like The Art Newspaper.
Though the proposal would keep huge ships (grandi navi) out of the famed Grand Canal, environmentalists warn that damage to the Venetian lagoon will be no less severe. Deep dredging would affect the hydrodynamics of the lagoon deleteriously, removing mud and sediment needed to protect the city from the sea. Despite a warning from UNESCO that Venice would be put on the World Heritage In Danger list if changes in ship access are not significant, government officials hope to thread the needle between tourism income and conservation of what brings visitors to the city in the first place.
UPDATE: Hannah McGivern reports in The Art Newspaper that the show has gone on, though not at the Doge’s Palace as originally planned. The non-profit Fondo Ambiente Italiano (FAI) will mount the show from (22 October through 6 January 2016 in the former Olivetti typewriter showroom on Piazza San Marco.
Berengo Gardin’s photographs will be on view through 28 September 2015 at Villa Necchi Campiglio in Milan. It is hoped they will be exhibited in Venice before too long.
Gianni Berengo Gardin, Facing the Zattere on Canale della Giudecca, Mostri a Venezia, 2012-2014. © Gianni Berengo Gardin. Courtesy Fondazione Forma per la Fotografia
All other photos ©Gianni Berengo Gardin courtesy Fondazione Forma per la Fotografia