The first ever Ghetto arose when the Jews were forced to move in the sixteenth century to the North Westerly corner of Venice from the island of Giudecca (which some historians imply was named after them). Ghetto (or Gheto) is the Venetian word for an iron foundry, where the Jewish quarter was built. The outer walls were window-less, the gates were locked at sunset and the residents had to wear first a yellow, then a red hat, when out and about in the city.
Jan Morris says “people have often observed an affinity between Venetians and the Jews – a common aptitude for money making, a similar sense of wry humour, a sense of national exclusion” Certainly there is a shared sense of the importance of family and community prevalent to this day. The opening of ‘Scanning Venice’ was a family and friends production, with my brother-in-law Amos Romano, head honcho at “Magazzino Delle Scope” in Jesolo directing operations, and Marika, Jana, Karin all making and serving snacks and drinks for the hundred or so guests assembled in the Campo, shared festivities with neighbours on the Shabbat, before the appearance of three stars on Saturday night.
Francoise Calcagno was pleased with turnout at the gallery. The exhibition is part of a series of one-person shows from the ‘Collettiva Gruppo Boiler’, a 9-strong artist’s collective that exhibits together twice a year and are looking to promote exchanges with other groups of a similar standing in Padova, Verona and Bologna. The space is small, reflecting the architecture of the Ghetto: where similar sized Venetian houses had three floors including the piano nobile, Ghetto houses have five. It’s absolutely the right size for me, right now.
The work inside is described in the press releases, apart from the three larger paintings on paper, never before exhibited. When Amos and I arrive to deliver the work by boat there’s foschia on the lagoon, a mist hovering above the water that reduces perspective and swaddles everything in a transparent white blanket. Occasionally something leaps out into clear vision: a mooring post, an oriental silk, a distant horizon. We live in a mist most of the time, even if science has a constant trajectory to clarify the nature of things. And we are fortunate if we are able to act upon the two or three clear ideas that leap out at us in life with clarity. There’s something of this in those three paintings.