La Trieste de Magris
It’s difficult to capture the essence of a city, but the CCCB’s latest exhibition has managed it. The city in question is Trieste.
Overlooking the Adriatic Sea on the frontier between Italy and Eastern Europe, this is a place pummelled by the unique Bora winds that at times reach 171 kilometres per hour. It is also home to some of the world’s most foremost thinkers, whose lives and writings are exposed by this latest installation, The Trieste of Magris.
A part of the CCCB’s cycle of exhibits, ‘Cities and Their Writers’, the story of this multi-ethnic city is told through the eyes of Triestine writer Claudio Magris. Curated by theatre director and Magris’s friend Giorgio Pressburger, this is more than a show with one protagonist. Instead, art, literature, science and the recent history of Europe are displayed in a format that includes both humour and sensitivity.
A wander through the 15-room installation reveals the heart of a town: replicas of Trieste’s Caffe San Marco and town square, and simulations of the Bora wind are just a taster. Traverse the spectrum of human emotion and step into the madness of a mock sanatorium or sink into a plush psychiatric chair on display to illustrate Trieste’s importance to the field of psychoanalysis.
Literature enthusiasts will also find themselves satisfied. As well as Magris’s penmanship, original writings from the likes of James Joyce, who lived in Trieste for 14 years, are on display in all their glory. Perhaps it was the mad Bora that pushed Irishman Joyce to pen some of the “scandalous” letters on show here. Written to lover Nora Barnacle, they will leave any English speaker in no doubt as to why Joyce revolutionised literature!
Joyce is just one example of Trieste’s multi-faceted makeup, which is a theme explored throughout: from the town’s Bohemian roots to Mussolini’s declaration of racist laws and Nazi autocracies.
Subtly raising questions about the importance of multi-culturalism, tolerance and acceptance through a non-confrontational medium, The Trieste of Magris serves to incite valuable discussions about the world we live in.
It also can’t be forgotten that you’re essentially paying around €5 to visit an Italian seaside village!
La Trieste de Magris, CCCB, until July 17th. www.cccb.org