International Week of Cultural and Environmental Heritage

November 3 – 11, 2012

Nine days dedicated to culture and quality of life. An international forum, 40 conferences and round tables, 7 Lectio Magistralis, exhibitions and installations that contaminate the whole city. Art, creative industry and landscape, the macro themes around which the second edition of the International Biennial of Cultural and Environmental Heritage focused. Born from an idea by Giovanni Gentile, president of the Florens Foundation, the event is an international laboratory of economics and culture.

Paladin’s cross
Among the exhibitions, the Cross of Piazza Santa Croce, a monumental work of contemporary art: an enormous white marble cross measuring 80 x 50 m designed by Mimmo Paladino. A spectacular urban installation created by arranging large blocks of marble of various sizes on which the artist engraved archaic symbols, figures, faces and arts from his creative repertoire. A religious but also cultural sign, the cross finds its most fruitful land in Florence. Paladino rethinks this symbol today: he assembles it with gigantic fragments, makes it cumbersome and imposing, sculpts it in the most noble and ancient material, makes it dialogue with the basilica and the city, inscribes it with a story made of ancestral signs, of traces of a humanity wounded, tried, disoriented and disillusioned but which has its salvation in its origins, in the roots of the world and of man. Like a shaman, Paladin carved the totem of him. But if the cross that Constantine had seen in his dream was an aegis of victory, that of Paladin is a warning from which we must start again if there is to be any hope of salvation and rebirth.

On display, the most important crucifixes in the world
In the year in which the Christian West remembers Constantine’s vision (a cross that appeared in the sky before the battle of Ponte Miglio) attention to the central sign of Christianity is almost necessary. For this reason, in the Baptistery of Santa Maria del Fiore, the wooden crucifixes of Donatello, Brunelleschi and Michelangelo were exhibited together for the first time to allow a reflection on the religious sculpture of the Florentine fifteenth century.

Mysterium Crucis, inaugurated by Cardinal S.E Giuseppe Betori, Metropolitan Archbishop of Florence. For the first time, the three most important wooden crucifixes in the world, masterpieces of sacred art, were brought together in the Baptistery of San Giovanni to allow a reinterpretation of the entire story.

At the same time, in Piazza San Giovanni, an urban decoration installation The Garden of Olives came to life with over 70 centuries-old olive trees, arranged in a checkerboard pattern, in harmony with the lines of the Baptistery and the Square. The olive tree, a typical plant of the Tuscan landscape, recalls the Scriptures evoking the image of the Garden of Gethsemane. But it also has a value as an agri-food asset, a symbol of attention and protection of one’s culture and landscape identity.

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