What is "The Wood of memories":
"The Wood of memories" is a non profit project born from the desire of an Italian miner's nieces to find their roots. The man's family had migrated to Belgium after World War II and went back to Italy after the miner died in the tragedy of Marcinelle.
Through the eyes of women, the project aims at carrying on the memory of those men who have contributed to the reconstruction of Europe through their hard and merciless work in the mines. After several exhibitions in Italy and Belgium, where the project has gained broad support both from the critics and even more from the public, we are now ready to introduce overseas these stories about family and solidarity.
How "The Wood of memories" came to life:
At the end of 2014 my wife, her sister, and I decided to search for the roots of their family, who emigrated to Belgium after World War II. Their grandfather, Cesare Di Berardino, lost his life in the mining tragedy of the Bois du Cazier (Marcinelle, Belgium) on the 8th of August 1956, along with another 261 miners. 2016 marks the 60th anniversary of this great catastrophe.
We started working on our photographic and literary project realizing interviews to women of the family, widows and orphans of Marcinelle, who had never told the memories of their life in Belgium before.
After two trips to Belgium in March and April 2015 to collect material for the project, my wife Enrica and I have decided to move to Brussels in order to understand how life continued among the families of ex-miners who decided to live in Belgium, unlike those who returned to Italy immediately after the tragedy.
After two years of work the photo exhibition "The Wood of memories", also known as “Le Bois des Souvenirs”, created by me and curated by my wife Enrica Buccione, and the book of interviews "La nostra Marcinelle", written by her sister Martina Buccione, came to life.
Since the first presentation that was held in Pescara on May 20, 2016, the project has received strong consensus and has grown beyond our expectations, obtaining the patronage of the Italian National Commission for UNESCO, the Nikon Italia partnership up to be inaugurated in August the 1st by her Royal Highness Princess Astrid of Belgium.
After the exhibitions held at the Le Bois du Cazier museum, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the ATLAS center in Belgium, the exhibition will now travel overseas to be presented In December the 10th at the Himeji City Museum of Literature in Japan and it will then travel back to Italy in February 2017, for an exhibition at the Chamber of Deputies in Rome.
The project has been conceived, realized and self-financed by my wife Enrica, her sister Martina, and myself, with support from the Foundation Pescarabruzzo and As.S.C.A. Foundation for the printing of photos and books.
I chose to apply the digital compositing and CGI (computer-generated imagery) to a social storytelling.
I have tried to represent the laborious and fragmented process of recollection through a series of images in order to present a set of historic and social memories of immense value. I have interpreted and transformed the stories and memories of the widows and female orphans of the Di Berardino family by overlapping the past and present and used a range of digital techniques to produce a series of surreal images that are nevertheless linked to events, places and objects from life in Belgium at that time.
All the places, the objects, the experiences described in the stories of the Di Berardino's women are part of a social, cultural, and ethical heritage shared by a whole community, that of the many Italian families who came to Belgium seeking a better way of life through the hard and unforgiving work in the coal mines.
This unique piece of collective history should not to be forgotten and that can only be passed on via an intergenerational bridge.
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