“The Duomo is a cathedral, but above all it is the church of Milan. The Duomo represents Milan's historic and religious identity, the strong Christian roots of its people." To tell this story was the challenge and goal of this photography exhibit which oscillates between past and present and which will be on display until 28 February 2017, in the renovated rooms of the Veneranda Fabbrica's Archives and the Church of San Gottardo in Corte, part of the circuit of the Grande Museo del Duomo di Milano.
Alessandro Gandolfi, photojournalist with the Parallelozero Agency, invested a year and a half, over 10,000 photographs, and a great deal of passion, and patience in order to document, in 34 images, the life that animated this Milanese cathedral, dedicated to Maria Nascente and cared for by the Veneranda Fabbrica since 1387. The Duomo is the heart of the city, of Lombardy's Christianity. It is the centre of the city's tourism and it is no coincidence that over six million visitors come through its doors each year.
“The exhibit does not represent the Duomo's static architecture, but rather the universe of people who revolve around it, the locations, some far away, involved in its existence, the fascinating stories of the men and women whose lives are intertwined with that architecture," commented Gandolfi. His photography resulted in a photo essay published in National Geographic this past July, and the exhibit “L’infinita energia dei Grandi Cantieri del Duomo” [The Infinite Energy of the Duomo's Restoration Sites].
The journey through Gandolfi's images, a true iconic diary, takes one all the way to Val D'Ossola to show the processes by which the pink marble from the Candoglia quarries is extracted and cultivated, the use of which has been granted exclusively to the Fabbrica; it enters the studios of the marble workers on Via Brunetti in Milan, busy recovering and restoring the marble decorations and the neglected spires, consumed by time and by damaging external agents; it climbs up to the Duomo's terraces to show the "rock climbing" workers suspended between the pinnacles and spires, the plumes and flying buttresses, tied to ropes as they work on the monument. It is a document that represents the unceasing activity of a foundry that hasn't stopped in 630 years. The Fabbrica organizes many events and cultural activities in order to introduce people to its work: from theatrical events to Expo2015 to the traditional concerts of the Schola Cantorum and the organ which animate the Cathedral's Gothic naves.
“L’infinita energia dei Grandi Cantieri del Duomo” is on display mostly within the mystical atmosphere of the Church of San Gottardo in Corte, part of the Grande Museo del Duomo's circuit, once again open to the public after a major restoration project completed in just 9 months by the Veneranda Fabbrica in 2015, and allows visitors see the architecture of the Palatina Chapel of the Royal Palace and unveil what is concealed daily behind "the Duomo's great machine".
The Venerada Fabbrica's Archives, inaugurated this past 30 May, restored and renovated according to the best preservation methods, houses the first part of the exhibit "The Duomo Tells Its Story: a century of life around the Duomo”. 28 vintage photographs taken between 1860 and the 1970s which document the evolution of the monumental complex and provide an overview of the various photographic techniques used throughout those years. The ancient piazza with the Rebecchino neighbourhood and the smokestack of Via Santa Redegonda, the coffee bar on the monument's terraces, Milan's transformation from the 19th to 20th centuries, the tragedy of the war, and more: traces of life immortalized by all those photographs that, at various moments in history, captured the reflections and the impressions of an instant on photographic paper.
A "two part" photographic exhibit that brings together the old and the new, uniting the history and the beauty of Milan's past with the extraordinary energy of the Duomo's present.