Giuseppe Stampone continues this remembrance theme with a new abecedarian dedicated to the Holo- caust and the Ghetto of Rome. The project, which will be completed in 2014-2015, consists of the twen- ty-six letters of the alphabet, to each of which the artist associates an image. This time, however, he does not choose the word associated with the image; the word is instead chosen by a special audience: pupils from Jewish schools, residents of the former Ghetto, survivors of the extermination camps and their rela- tives, as well as historians, university professors, and critics. In this way, the artist gives life to a common voice, a direct testimony of memories and tragedies that still echo in the streets and lanes of the Roman Ghetto. It is, thus, a collaborative and interactive work whereby the spectator is invited to offer his/her personal opinion with a single word or saying, through his/her memories and cultural identity. The project has been devised as a work-in-progress, starting in the Roman Ghetto and extending to other European ghettos using the same method and process. Once this project has been completed, the cultural differen- ces, traumas and resultant attitudes of each community will be better understood. The project will also be accompanied by a book.
This is Giuseppe Stampone’s ideology: art is a way to relive, and above all, not forget. Survivors become actors, the past becomes present, memories become the “here and now” (hic et nunc). In this way Stam- pone poetically confronts history, using the reporter’s detachment to slavishly report what he sees and hears. The artist lets the viewer decide the meaning and its form, thus creating a new linguistic code.
ABC of Shoah Made in Rome is Giuseppe Stampone’s upcoming project sponsored by of Rome’s Jewish Community and the Jewish Museum of Rome.
Work began in 2014 and will culminate in 2016 with a large-scale international exhibition curated by Gior- gia Calo’.
The artist undertakes an extremely difficult task for this project: to bring to light the most appalling pages in the history of Rome: the roundup on 16 October 1943 of the Jews living in the city’s ghetto for transporta- tion to the death camps.
Today the Shoah, or Holocaust, is a much-debated subject, but this was not immediately the case. In fact, after the Second World War many artists refused to address the issue. For that matter, even philosophical and historiographic paradigms regarding the idea of testimony affirmed the impossibility of talking about the Shoah – an impossibility theorised in the late 1940s by Theodor Adorno, who believed that poetry could no longer be written after Auschwitz.
Based upon this premise, Giuseppe Stampone is guided by the testimonies of those who were depor- ted and later returned from the death camps for the realisation of this work. The artist explores the past through these first-hand accounts, but in doing so he also involves the present – the new generations, the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those who experienced such horrors.
In this way, a work of art is no longer a place of representation. It becomes a vital space of action, through the participation of three 5th grade classes from the Angelo Sacerdoti Hebrew School in Rome. The artist asked each pupil to create a letter by writing a word and drawing a picture inside a pre-constructed grid from the classic spelling-book. In this way, many pupils were able to offer their own view of the Holocaust based upon their cultural background and heritage, so deeply rooted in Rome and the history of the former ghetto.
Beginning with the children – the “unpolluted” – Stampone involves the local people who are “the history”. These are the markers and guides used by the artist for the realisation of his letters, which he then geo-lo- calises into synapses that make up the great conceptual map of the Shoah in Rome.
The artist has given life to a choral voice, the direct testimony of the memories and dramas that still echo through the streets and alleys of the former ghetto.
So this is Giuseppe Stampone’s idea: that art is a way of reliving events and – above all – of not forgetting. Witnesses become actors, past becomes present and memories become hic et nunc. In this way Stampo- ne poetically confronts history by using the “distance” of the reporter to create a new linguistic code.
The project closes with a video and the creation of a “guide” of Rome’s former ghetto, featuring all the information gathered during these two years of research.