'This is War' at the Monte della Pietà Palace

a great photography exhibition to portray the wars of the latest century and their tragic effects

From 28 February 2015 to 01 June 2015


Among the Padua exhibitions in 2015, 'This is War', hosted at the Monte della Pietà Palace from 28 February to 31 May 2015, is without a doubt one of the most touching war photography exhibitions in Italy in Padua in recent years, for both its themes and the documentation exposed.

The Cassa di Risparmio di Padova and Rovigo Foundation, supporter of the initiative, has strongly wanted this Padua exhibition in to remember all the conflicts that have taken place over the years and to provide food for thought about our approach to an important issue such as war, which can be portrayed by photography through raw, tragic and often evocative images.

This war photography exhibition in Italy follows the actual chronological order of the numerous wars that broke out between the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century: from the First World War, the Spanish Civil War, World War II, the Algerian War, the Bosnian Serb war, the Vietnam War, the endless war in the middle East and the wars that for too long have being lashing the lands of Africa, the photo exhibition 'This is war' ends with most recent attack on the Twin Towers and the outbreaks in the Middle East and in Ukraine. In each of these tragic events photography has been successfully used in a different way, giving each time a different colour to the relationship between war, documentation and the story.

In memory of the First World War, Walter Guadagnini has selected for the Padua photo exhibitionmore than 160 images of war that tell how, despite more than a century has passed, it has remained one of the worst plagues in many countries in the world.

In the section of images relating to the First World War the new technologies used for the first time during this conflict stand out, such as the aerial photos that could finally frame entire areas, the tanks and other new combat instruments never used until then. The biggest innovation, however, was about the cameras that, for the first time, were used by soldiers themselves: in this way they could send their families a dear and precious memory and often, unfortunately, the last one. Please note that the images of war photography exhibition on display in 'This is War' in this event in Padua, at the Palazzo del Monte di Pietà, are from the Museum of the Third Army, a valuable source of priceless historical evidence of the First World War.

Of particular interest are the shots taken by Princess Anna Maria Borghese, an aristocratic Roman woman lover of photography and member of the Red Cross on the front line who, thanks to the first Kodak snapshot camera, has been able to tell the life of the soldiers and their true daily events.

Even the Spanish Civil War is told in the first person through the evidence left by the fighters of different fronts and the numerous photo shoots that the newspapers published in that period. It is precisely at this juncture that 'The Fallen Militiaman' by Robert Capa - the photo which became the symbol of the entire history of photography - appeared for the first time, shown in this unique photo exhibition on war along with another shot, now famous worldwide, by Gerda Taro, Capa's companion, of a woman soldier intent on shooting during training.

'This is War' event in Padua, Italy will demonstrate how photography, over the years, has been an all-encompassing activity and the preferred means to tell, narrate and express situations and emotions, independent of the fact that shots were taken by aficionados, fighters on the front line or professionals and important photojournalists.

The Second World War is told in this spirit with a series of extraordinary and precious images of great photographers of the 20th century, such as August Sander, Ernst Haas, Robert Capa, Eugene Smith and Henri Cartier-Bresson, Eugeny Chaldey and Bill Bandt.

With the exception of the Padua exhibition section on the images of Smith, which are entirely dedicated to battles and soldiers in action, photos of war taken by these artists do not tell the war itself, but rather their tragic end and the sad consequences that they bring to the population. So here is the realistic narration of Cologne before and after the bombing through the pictures of Sander, the touching photos of soldiers in Vienna at the time of their return home, in their city destroyed and the pictures of Cartier-Bresson of refugee camps, sometimes dramatic and sometimes even humorous; known throughout the world is his shot depicting a victim of Nazism who points to his executioner.

This Padova exhibition in 2015 conceived by the Cassa di Risparmio Padova and Rovigo Foundation, also tells the events of the Italian Resistance, some reconstructed retrospectively, others experienced first-hand by a partisan who took pictures and then gave them to Robert Capa.

The photography exhibition in Italy 'This is War' continues with images of war in the 1950s: a series of photos taken in Dresden and Hiroshima to show a large number of 'atomic mushroom clouds' and other nuclear tests and their devastating effects on the territory and population.

The exhibition in Padua on war shows also the war in Algeria with portraits of local women made by Marc Garanger and theVietnam War, called 'the last photographic war', in which Don Mc Cullin, Eve Arnold and Philip Jones Griffiths intend, with their works, to exhibit three different points of view but at the same time highlight their common thought and doubt about the real need for this war.

From this moment on television takes the place of photography, which remains an important tool on the battlefield, and also useful to offer interesting insights. The exhibition of Walter Guadagnini, therefore, passes from reportage to more biting images made by the most famous artists of our day, including Gabriele Basilico's devastated Beirut, 'Enclave', the masterpiece of Richard Mosse who wants to tell with acid colours his personal experience in the tragic war in Congo, Luc Delahay's historical documentaries, Gilles Perress's multimedia tale and shots of the Israeli military watchtowers taken by Taysir Batnjj, where the poor and imperfect framing is meant to symbolize the plight and extreme insecurity that affected the country at that time.

At the end of the Padova photo exhibition, the viewer is put in front of two possible different endings: on one hand is the artist Boris Mikhailov who depicts the Ukrainian revolt displaying its bluntness and tragedy, on the other are Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin with their positivity. This extraordinary artist couple, known around the world and always attentive to an important issue such as the war and the various ways to represent it, with their project fully financed and produced for this exhibition, want to show that, even in tragic events such as wars, there can be a happy ending often due to chance.

In addition to photographic reports and television dossiers, 'This is War' shows newspapers and other interesting examples of those periods by offering the opportunity to visit some websites dedicated to this important issue, in order to invite the viewer to reflect on the relationship between war, photography and information in general.

'This is War' promises to beone of the most important events in Padua in 2015, an opportunity to think about a topic as important as that of war and the way we relate to it, which we often take for granted without being fully aware of its real drama.

By Insidecom Editorial Staff