From Naples to Belgrade
The first inspiration for the choice of the location for the new calendar came from the reading of the essay by Milan Kundera "The Curtain”.
In this book dated 2004, the Czech author remembers how, in the Seventies, when he left his home country for France, he discovered that the French “saw my country as part of Eastern Europe”, as though the fact that it had belonged for so long to Bohemia and to European history and literature had been swallowed up completely.
This popular belief brought to the writer’s mind the words with which, in 1939, British prime minister Neville Chamberlain had justified himself after abandoning the Czech Republic to the clutches of Hitler: “a faraway country of which we know little”.
I asked myself whether there are still countries which we can describe as “a faraway country of which we know little”, meaning: a country whose problems, evolution and possible misfortune have nothing to with us and are of no interest to us?
One came to mind immediately, although, to be honest it really isn’t “faraway” at all.
In actual fact it’s rather close but, since the events of the Nineties (the end of Yugoslavia, the wars, the NATO bombings), we seem to have forgotten all about and lost interest in Serbia, and particularly Belgrade.
The real crossroads between East and West, point of convergence between the Latin and Byzantine worlds, the area of the Christian schism between members of the Catholic and Orthodox faiths, frontier between West and Islam. An ancient settlement of the southern Slavs, this country succeeded in opposing fascism and then invented a communism that was proudly independent of Moscow, going so far as to become the guide for non-aligned countries before plunging into war and into the loss of national unity at the end of the century.
Despite being very different, Naples and Belgrade are both border cities in a manner of speaking, invaded by numerous populations who lived under a variety of reigns and rules, but were always capable of retaining their identity, resisting and evening chasing out invaders on their own: see the four days of Naples, and the fight for freedom from the Nazis and southern Slavs.
The fundamental difference between the two cities is perhaps the different relationship with their memories.
Naples has a light relationship with its past, streaked with nostalgia and characterised by a tendency to remove things, evoking a “harmony” lost forever, as portrayed in La Capria, but with a clear focus on the present and the opportunities it offers.
The inhabitants of Belgrade and Serbia, on the other hand, cultivate their memories of the past, without ever succeeding in detaching themselves completely. Whether they’re remembering the conflicts with the Turks or the Second World War, the past always re-emerges from under the surface, like in the beautiful film by Kusturica (Underground), and is evoked in the city’s museums, churches and fortresses.
It’s no mere coincidence that the famous Yugoslavian writer, Ivo Andric, quotes this phrase by Leonardo Da Vinci, “The division of the East from the West may be made at any point”. What is divided now, as it was in the past, is memory, which is hard to reconcile.
The journey I am proposing is also a journey into the memory of Europe, into its divisions and defeats, to see with our own eyes what is still the same and what has changed in that city, so loyal to its history and its memory, with a tendency so different from our own, which is to transform the past into something harmless, worthy at best of a museum or a costume drama.
I think that getting to know places that are so close yet so far away, even only as much as is possible during a very brief stay, helps reduce the divide and the misunderstandings between different peoples and cultures, which is one of the purposes that my association intends to pursue, proposing an unusual location this time, well off the beaten track, but without foregoing the closing party which will be just as fun and exciting, with a few surprises, as it is every other year.
Generoso di Meo
Naples, August 1944
a secret meeting between Churchill and Tito
Black & White Ball
Due mari, una sola moltitudine
Napoli a Vienna
Guerra e Pace
Massimo Listri inside Moscow
A Grand Tour around Vesuvius
Listri inside Hamilton's Naples
MEMORIA e FUTURO
Bellotto e Listri a Varsavia
L'anima del tempo di Massimo Listri
Chiese napoletane: rovina e recuperi
di Angelo Bucarelli
due teatri per due sicilie
i sipari di giuseppe mancinelli
e gustavo mancinelli
Mise en scene a Pompei
Di Meo a New York
Di Meo a Bordeaux
Di Meo per il "grand tour"
di Alexander Creswell