Palazzo Fortuny

Fortuny Palace



L’AUTOMA (Automaton), an unpublished visual-narrative journey set in Venice during the Second World War, created by photographer Paolo Ventura (Milan, 1968), who lives and works in New York.

The city and its components are described and interpreted via a score of photographs (100cmx120cm) and a model (diorama, 300cmx200cm) – together with a selection of drawings and watercolour studies of characters and environments – presenting a reality at the same time faithful and fanciful, if not fundamentally dream-like.

Through two distinct creative processes (the creation of the hyper-realistic diorama, which becomes a real “set”, and the elaboration of the “snapshot”) Ventura offers a sort of contrived and well-packaged “lie”, that, so rich in detail and imbued with the tragic and distressing flavour of the war, is credible as the fruit of family memories handed down in childhood.

It’s an unusual and poetic way to tell a story, poised between dream and reality, cinema and theatre, photography and memory.

The plot unfolds in 1943, under the German occupation. Venice is an empty city, permanently shrouded in a thin, surreale mist that flattens the surfaces and turns it into a kind of theatrical backdrop. Here, an old Jew, by now all alone. As well as books he is passionate about “automatons”, and decides to build himself one, programming its mechanisms so that at lunch and dinner time it salutes its old dining companion with a loud “toast”. When, in December that year, the round-up and arrests begin in the Ghetto with a view to deporting the few remaining Jews, the man is at home as the police come to search his house. It’s almost dinner time and, notwithstanding that he is hiding with his “automaton”, he hears it slowly start cranking up the gears that would lead inevitably to the daily salute and consequently his own arrest.

But, when all seems lost, suddenly the mechanical arm jams, and stays silent, while the police leave the house… The old man is saved, but on that day 200 Jews will be arrested and deported, most of them never to return.

Some of the works on display will be exhibited in June at New York’s Museum of Art and Design. The exhibition is organized in collaboration with the Bugno Art Gallery.



full price 9,00 euro #
reduced 6,00 euro #
Residents and those born in the Municipality of Venice; citizens under 25 and over 65; I.C.O.M members; for those buying the combined ticket to the Museums of St. Mark’s Square or San Marco Plus; holders of the Museum Pass issued by the Musei Civici Veneziani

children 0/5 years old; disabled persons with guides, authorised guides; tourist interpreters accompanying groups*; 1 free tickets every 15 tickets with prior bookings.

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