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Latin American Art Show in Italy Promotes Compassion for Refugees and Immigrants

Exposition of migrant art on immigration. Photo used with permission. Photo courtesy Progetto 7LUNE.

The touring exhibition “MigrArte Postale” leaves its visitors feeling far from apathetic. Through the medium of acrylic, oil, collage, digital art and photography, the project explores the issue of immigration with 125 art postcards by 96 artists from 14 countries.

The exhibition is currently being displayed in a variety of locations and cultural events all over Italy. The project was put together by Progetto 7LUNE, a group of volunteers who aim to share contemporary Hispanic-American culture throughout Italy through free digital postcards, readings, poems and cultural events. Each postcard also contains a small poem written by the artist.

Global Voices spoke with Venetian writer and cultural manager Silvia Favaretto, who runs Progretto 7Lune along with her husband Daniele Rubin.

Global Voices (GV): How did MigrArte begin? What was the inspiration behind the project?

Silvia Favaretto (SF): El proyecto ha empezado a raíz de una propuesta de nuestra responsable del sector Artes, Carmen Parada, pintora mexicana, quien nos propuso emitir una convocatoria de Arte Postal (“Mail Art”) y nosotros pensamos que el tema de inmigración era muy urgente y muy necesario para representar.

Silvia Favaretto (SF): It was the leader of our Arts section, Carmen Parada, a Mexican painter, who came up with the idea for the project. She suggested that we do some work based on Mail Art, and we decided that immigration was a very pressing issue that really needed to be represented.

GV: Why did you choose the postcard format?

SF: Las postales de arte cumplen un viaje de miles de kilómetros, ocultadas en las bolsas de postales comunes, para llegar a su destino, exactamente como nuestros hermanos migrantes. No nos resistimos a la metáfora.

SF: Postcards make journeys thousands of miles long, bundled in big post bags in order to get to their destination, just like our migrant brothers and sisters.  We couldn't resist the metaphor.

La exposición ha conmovido a mucha gente. Foto usada con permiso.

The exhibition has touched a lot of people. Photo used with permission. Photo courtesy Progetto 7LUNE.

GV: Which countries are represented in the exhibition?

SF: Trece países de Hispanoamérica, y España: Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia; Costa Rica, Chile, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panamá, México, Venezuela, Uruguay. Nos duele no haber recibido testimonio de artistas de países tan importantes como Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Perú, República Dominicana y Paraguay.

SF: Thirteen countries from Latin America — Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia; Costa Rica, Chile, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Mexico, Venezuela, Uruguay — and Spain. It was a shame we didn't receive any testimonies from such important countries as Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Peru, Dominican Republic and Paraguay.

GV: Which places or cultural events has MigrArte been displayed at?

SF: En muchos festivales de Venecia y otras ciudades italianas, por ejemplo el Festival delle arti della Giudecca, la Rassegna Isole in rete, el Foro mundial de los jóvenes en Trieste, etc. Todavía las exposiciones no se han concluido y vamos a aceptar distintas propuestas.

SF: In many festivals in Venice and other Italian cities, such as the Festival of Arts in Giudecca, the Rassegna Isole in rete, the World Youth Forum in Trieste, etc. The exhibitions aren't over yet, and we are still accepting suggestions.

GV: What did you use to put up the exhibition? One hundred and twenty-five postcards is a considerable amount. What materials were involved?

SF: Según las posibilidades del sitio que nos hospedaba, colgamos las postales con pinzas a unas sogas, como ropa tendida o bien utilizamos una artesanía de mi papá, Maurizio Favaretto, un ‘árbol migrante’, colgando las postales como hojas. No tenemos financiaciones, con lo cual nos adaptamos a las necesidades con los medios que tenemos y la buena voluntad.

SF: Depending on the place hosting us, we would hang up the postcards using clothespins on pieces of rope like a clothes line; or we would use a ‘migrant tree,’ a sculpture made by my father, Maurizio Favaretto, with the postcards hanging like leaves. We don't receive funding, we adapt to what is needed using what we have available and people's good will.

GV: What has been the public's reaction to the postcards?

SF: Fue maravilloso verlo: Asombro, curiosidad y felicitaciones han sido la costumbre.

SF: It's been wonderful to see: mostly amazement, curiosity and congratulations.

GV: Some people might have reservations in addressing such a complex and current issue as what's presented in the postcards. What would you say to them?

SF: Nosotros, al revés, pensamos que las imágenes que muestran en el telediario, los niños muertos, los barcos repletos de humanidad desesperada no son eficaces en la comunicación de un mensaje de tolerancia e integración. Son imágenes frustrantes y tristes, algunas veces repulsivas. Al contrario las postales, que atraen la mirada por sus colores y formas, invitan a una reflexión, abren la conciencia, convocan a ser hermanos y acoger.

SF: We don't believe that the images on the news of dead children and boats full of despairing people are effective in communicating a message of tolerance and integration. The images are frustrating and sad, sometimes even repulsive. The postcards, on the other hand, attract attention because of their colors and shapes and they invite you to reflect, they open your mind, they encourage us to welcome one another with open arms.

Los directores del Progetto 7LUNE Daniele Rubin y Silvia Favaretto, junto a la vicedirectora Sarah Grimaldi.

The directors of Progetto 7LUNE, Daniele Rubin and Silvia Favaretto, together with vice-director Sarah Grimaldi. Photo courtesy Progetto 7LUNE.

GV: Did Progetto 7LUNE receive any sort of financial support to make MigrArte Postale possible?

SF: Ninguno. Lo cual nos dificulta al momento de aceptar invitaciones a ciudades que están lejos pues todo viaje lo pagamos con nuestros sueldos de profesores de secundaria y empleados.

SF: None, which did make it difficult to accept invitations for cities which are far away as we use our own wages as school teachers to pay for our trips.

GV: What are your future plans for this touring exhibition?

SF: Llegar a todos los lugares que podamos alcanzar con nuestros medios y a lo mejor encontrar financiación para editar un catálogo en papel y poder pagar los gastos de envío a cada uno de los 97 artistas participantes.

SF: To visit all the places we can with the resources we have, and perhaps find funding to make a paper catalog and be able to afford the costs to send them to each of the 97 participating artists.

GV: Is there an online space where people from all corners of the world can see MigrArte Postale and learn more about who's involved?

SF: Claro, tenemos un sitio, un blog, y un enlace en el que se puede descargar gratuitamente el catálogo virtual.

SF: Of course, we have a website, a blog and a link where you can download the virtual catalog for free.

GV: What is Progetto 7Lune aspiring to do with this project?

SF: El Progetto 7LUNE aspira a difundir el arte, la poesía, en general la cultura hispanoamericana contemporánea en Italia. Creemos que el arte que se está creando en América Latina merece ser conocida por acá, por su energía positiva, su atrevimiento, su fuerza.

SF: Progetto 7Lune is hoping to share contemporary Hispanic-American art, poetry and culture in Italy. We believe that the art which is being created in Latin America deserves to be known over here, for its positive energy, its boldness, its strength.

GV: Can Art — with a capital A — change lives? Stir consciences? And as a result, make the world a better place for everyone?

SF: Claro. El arte es belleza y conocimiento, representación de nuestros miedos y deseos. Los miedos y los deseos son los que más profundamente mueven al ser humano hacia un cambio. La conmoción es un arma poderosa hacia el cambio. La única arma por la que vale la pena apostar.

SF: Of course. Art is beauty and knowledge, a reflection of our fears and desires. Fear and desire is what most deeply moves a human being to make changes. Shock is a powerful weapon towards change. The only weapon worth making a bet on.

Read more of our special coverage: Streams of Refugees Seek Sanctuary in Europe

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