Where and when
On the occasion of the celebrations dedicated to the International Holocaust Memorial Day, the Museo Novecento inaugurates a double appointment scheduled for January 27, 2021.
In the covered part of the loggia outside the museum, right next to the plaque commemorating the use that was made of the Leopoldine women as a place of confinement for political prisoners, the Pitchipoi led writing was installed, a work by the Claire Fontaine collective, already present on the facade with the large luminous phrase We are with you in the night. Inside the museum, in the cinema room, the film Manni by Riccardo Iacopino is shown for the whole day, produced by the Museo Novecento and created starting from a story by Giorgio van Straten, which on this occasion is also presented in the plays the role of protagonist ‘actor’.
The collaboration between the Museo Novecento and the artistic duo Claire Fontaine began on the occasion of the Day against violence against women and gender on 25 November. And it continued in December, on the occasion of F-light, Firenze Light Festival, with the large luminous writing, We are with you in the night, which transformed the facade of the Museum into an ideal diaphragm between the interior of the building and the square of Santa Maria Novella. Pitchipoi, the third stage of this exhibition curated by Paola Ugolini, will remain in the loggia until 11 March.
“On 27 January of 76 years ago – says Paola Ugolini, curator of the project – the Soviet troops arrived first in the Polish city of Auschwitz, discovering the concentration camp and revealing for the first time to the world the horror of the Nazi-Fascist genocide. Pitchipoi was the name of an imaginary place where the Jews, waiting in the transit camp of Drancy, France, believed they had to go and is today the neon sign that will be installed on the outside wall of the museum, near the tombstones that remember the deportation of Jews and Florentine political prisoners during the Second World War”.
It was normal practice for the Nazis to hide their final destination from the Jews. Pitchipoi, therefore, was imagined to answer a question, to fill a void. A Yiddish word, with a fairytale and reassuring sound, invented to exorcise fear, but which in the terrified mind of hundreds of Jews, soon took on the most frightening appearance: a place where they would have been forced to forced labor, for many synonymous with a curse eternal. A place that, however, no one could imagine as monstrous as, in reality, the Auschwitz camp where they went to die.
Riccardo Iacopino which has as its protagonist the writer Giorgio van Straten, author of a story dedicated to Manfred Buchaster, rightly called Manni, one of the many children whose traces the Holocaust has completely lost. In the film, the Florentine writer reads the fictional story of little Manni, who disappeared in the terrible years of deportations, leaving no traces behind him, except for a small portrait of him and a photo.
“There are stories that become obsessions,” says van Straten, explaining how the story was born. “Stories that follow you for years and you can’t forget them. Manfred Buchaster’s has stuck in my mind from the day I first read about it. One life among the many destroyed by the Shoah, an injustice that must be multiplied by millions of times“.
Manfred Buchaster was born in 1938 in Leipzig, Germany, and we know that in 1943 he was arrested in Italy, in Costa di Rovigo. What had happened before that date and, above all, what happened after that moment was engulfed in the immense tragedy of the Holocaust, along with the stories of many other missing Jews. Van Straten, who read about him for the first time in the Book of Memory, dedicated to those who have not been deported, but who have nevertheless become a victim of the Shoah, decided to track him down and slowly, among the testimonies of those who he had taken care of him, after he was separated from his parents, he managed to reconstruct part of the story, which is narrated in this short but intense film by Riccardo Iacopino. Through the voice of Giorgio van Straten, Manni’s life, initially marked only by the dates of birth and death, takes shape and becomes a real existence, redeemed from oblivion. And thanks to this precious story and this film, all the other lives, lost in that tragic period, seem to be able to do the same, which in the very act of being told manage to find peace by finally reuniting with the living.