14-18 Two Fronts,
Stories from Trieste
During the First World War, Trieste was not just a city “waiting” for Italy. In Trieste not everyone was an irredentist and there were those who were loyal to Austria and to the emperor. It was rather an “unstable” city, caught between two States, with combatants on
both sides of the front, bombed from the sky and the sea by the Italian air force and navy, and defended by the Hapsburg forces. It was too close to the theatre of war, yet too far from the supply lines.
The exhibition “14-18 Two Fronts. One City” presents this reinterpretation of the history of the city of Trieste and the multi-faceted experiences of its inhabitants during the First World War and in the early post-war years. Through photographs, exhibits, objects and
documents from a number of private and municipal collections—Civic Museums of History and Art, Attilio Hortis Civic Library, the Diego de Henriquez Museum of War for Peace, the General Archive—the exhibition aims at presenting the history of Trieste and its inhabitants between 1914 and 1918.
Organised by the City of Trieste and sponsored by the Autonomous Region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, the exhibition hosted at Salone degli Incanti-ex Pescheria (No. 1, Riva Nazario Sauro – from 19 December 2015 to 19 June 2016) is curated by Lucio Fabi, a historian and museum consultant, and directed by Bianca Cuderi of the Libraries Office of the City of Trieste.
“The rigorous historical approach to the exhibition testifies to the desire of Municipal Authorities to reinterpret and present the events dating back to a century ago from a contemporary perspective as also stressed by the setting,” stated the Councillor for Culture of the City of Trieste, Paolo Tassinari.
“The heritage preserved by the City’s cultural institutions proves to be a precious source for research on the occasion of this exhibition as well,” states Bianca Cuderi. The lists of fallen soldiers as well as of conscripts kept by the Archive, the collections of newspapers and journals at the Hortis Civic Library, diaries and photographic journals belonging to the De Henriques Museum and the Photo Library of the Civic Museums of History and Art, as well as the many other sources studied on this occasion, reveal a wealth that has not been fully uncovered yet and that we hope to present at events like this.
As the curator Lucio Fabi explains, for the first time the effort has been made to take a multi-faceted approach to exploring the experiences and fate of men and women who bore the scars of the war: “Stories from Trieste”—as the subtitle of the exhibition reads—looked at after a century, with a sharper and more detached view, with the aid of a huge body oficonographic materials and documents from archival sources never exhibited before, which will definitely provide food for thought for future insights.
With its both spectacular and educational approach—thanks to the many documents, photos, original items, infographics, materials and objects with a huge visual impact—the exhibition is articulated into different itineraries: “fronts” that afford a dual interpretation of the exhibition, namely by macro-topic (Trieste at War, Man Versus Man, The Daily War, The Disputed City) or from an emotional perspective (The Domestic Front, The War Front, The Vast Front, The Front in Imagination).
The exhibition itinerary—coordinated by Lorenzo Michelli and enhanced by the design by the architect Dimitri Waltritsch and by the graphic creations of Matteo Bartoli — is enriched with the collections of the Photo Library of the Civic Museums and films from the Friuli Film Archive and the Cappella Underground.
As stressed by Dimitri Waltritsch, the exhibition design embodies the overall theme of the exhibition and establishes a dialogue with the ex-Pescheria, an extraordinary venue in itself. It recreates that sense of precariousness experienced by the city through a series of round displays that break the linear unfolding of the historical events presenting an original flanerie through the human and wartime vicissitudes narrated by the exhibition. However, the whirling set in motion by the cylindrical displays merges with the columns of the ex-Pescheria dividing the central space from the aisles, with the ceiling of the hall and its unique light pouring on the works and displays hosting them.
A historian and museum consultant, Lucio Fabi has published several books on the social aspects and iconography of the First World War including Gente di trincea (Mursia 1994), Trieste 1914-1918 Una città in guerra (MGS Press 1996), La prima guerra mondiale (Editori Riuniti 1998), Il bravo soldato mulo (Mursia 2012), and Soldati d’Italia (Mursia 2014). His main activity is the promotion of the history of the local area through thematic guides and itineraries. He has collaborated in the creation of several local museums dedicated to the Great War in Trentino, the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia, the most recent of which is the “Museo della Guerra per la Pace Diego de Henriquez” of the City of Trieste (2014). He is engaged in the organisation of exhibitions in Italy and abroad. He was a scientific consultant in the production of the series of 10 DVDs by Paolo Rumiz and Alessandro Scillitani for the Italian daily newspaper “La Repubblica” (2014). He is member of the Interministerial Scientific Committee for the commemoration of the First World War centenary.