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Firenze - Kyiv e ritorno. Cover
February 8, 2024

Florence-Kyiv and back, Massimo Listri's exhibition at Palazzo Vecchio

Until 8 March, the great Florentine photographer's unmissable images on the beauty of Ukraine are on display

At Palazzo Vecchio until 8 March next, the exhibition Florence - Kyiv and Back by Massimo Listri, curated by Sergio Risaliti, artistic director of the Museo Novecento in Florence. It is an unprecedented cycle of photographic works that Listri has dedicated to the architectural and artistic beauty of Kyiv, where much of the historical and artistic heritage is at risk of survival. The exhibition is also Florence's homage to the capital of Ukraine, a symbol of the struggle for freedom and independence of a people militarily attacked by Russia. Florence has been twinned with Kyiv since 27 July 1967 when the mayor of Florence was Piero Bargellini, and this project enshrines the city's friendship and closeness to the Ukrainian people in such a dramatic historical phase.

Firenze - Kyiv e ritorno

In the exhibition we do not find images of war, destruction of theatres and libraries, of homes and schools, the wounded and the dead. Twelve of these large-format photographs are printed and displayed on metal frames, like old paintings on their easel. The others are projected on the walls of the Sala d'Arme, thanks to the use of video projectors already installed in the hall, enhancing the crystal-clear, crisp quality of the photographic details, a true workhorse of Listri, known the world over for his 'metaphysical' artistic views.

"It is a precise choice that Massimo Listri makes with these photos," says Mayor Dario Nardella, who will be present tomorrow at the opening of the exhibition, "images that at a hasty first glance are apparently timeless and without space but which, at a closer look, reveal all the anguish that has accompanied the Russian invasion in Ukraine for two years. A huge theatre with completely empty red velvet seats, hundreds of photos of women and men gathered together in a gloomy collage of the fallen, holy places eviscerated of every religion, luxurious party halls stopped before the last dance, stocks of bread ready to be distributed, covered works of art, sandbags seeking shelter from the horror. A war without protagonists and without blood, but which can be glimpsed looming in Listri's images'.
stresses curator Risaliti, "estimates that more than 250 cultural buildings have been damaged or entirely destroyed, with an economic loss of almost 3 billion euro. A few decades ago, the same thing happened to the library of Sarajevo, a symbol of universal value and significance, as the city of Palmyra. We all feel robbed of something that belongs to us, because culture affirms us as human beings endowed with a higher consciousness, achieved, not through divine intervention, but thanks to art, music, and everything beautiful and memorable that we have created over the centuries'.

Firenze - Kyiv e ritorno. 2

'Massimo Listri reached Kyiv, but he did not photograph the ruins, the injured and the dead,' Risaliti continues, 'he did not want to document the horror, the despair. His reportage, as always of the highest poetic and formal quality, covers some of the major sites of the Ukrainian capital's historical, artistic and architectural heritage. He has tried to generate contemplation, duration, projecting feelings of death through compassion for all that is beautiful that the Ukrainian people have built over the centuries. This new cycle of his photographs touches us deeply, moves us and leaves us somewhat dismayed. They are undeniably beautiful, they flaunt nothing but beauty, magnificence, aesthetic richness, sacredness, creative opulence, spiritual devotion. And yet, we cannot help but associate all this beauty and magnificence with the depressing, hallucinatory and suffocating presence of war, with its disasters and heavy cloak of grief'.

The exhibition is open every day, except Thursdays, from 2 pm to 7 pm.


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