This project commemorates the 500th anniversary of the foundation of the Venice Ghetto with two overarching, tightly interlocked metaphors. The first is the spatial metaphor of the Middle Sea as “motherland”: a liquid landscape home to great monotheistic cultures, to their dialogues and conflicts. With its shifting, fluid forms and the reflexes of its history – still brimming with life – Venice is their symbol and epiphany. The second is the metaphor of the Book (Sefer HaTorah), which generated all the fundamental, eternal rules of civilized, communal living, away from the barbarism of idolatry. This path in time was reinforced by the interaction with the “otherness” – even hostility – of the Hellenic Western tradition. The Book gathers the Word’s complex itinerary from East to West, and becomes a token of the Hope (HaTikvah) the Jewish people preserved for centuries and in most tragic circumstances by incessantly drawing from the teachings (Torah) of the Book .
All contemporary cultures – not only Jewish culture – are traversed by these very roots and drew from Jewish sources such as the kabbalah or the wisdom of the chachamim (wise men), whether directly or indirectly. If we examine the pillars of our cultural complexity, we realize it has been built on peaceful premises such as the respect for one’s neighbor and the minimization of conflict. The words and deeds of the wise men of the past reflect these principles. By contrast, those who preach violence, racial and religious hatred, and the annihilation of others as the condition for one’s existance indulge in criminal distortions and instumentalizations of these very principles. For this reason, we believe it is necessary to make use of the chance to commemorate the anniversary of the foundation of the Ghetto, which on the one hand was a most unfortunate event for the Jewish community, but, on the other hand, can still teach a positive lesson and bring us closer to the teachings of the Wise Men. A way to make this happen is certainly to relate the imperative to reflect on philosophy and culture with the experience of art.
Art, in fact, provides irrefutable evidence that messages of tolerance and mutual acceptance can still be heard and put into practice, so that men and peoples may live together with dignity on the same, benevolent earth.
Since Antiquity, the Middle Sea has presented us with shared models of creativity and coexistance that may inspire our actions. Today, it reminds us of our responsibility towards the future, asking us to adopt an ethics of care and preserve its role, to prevent any of this richness from getting lost.