In conversation with Ferruccio Ascari, author of t...

In conversation with Ferruccio Ascari, author of the urban installation “Non Dimenticarmi”

“Non Dimenticarmi” is the name of the city committee that proposed and strongly wanted a monument dedicated to the victims of the Strategy of Tension – from the Piazza Fontana massacre (1969) to that of Bologna Station (1980). The monument project, which will also be called “Non Dimenticarmi”, conceived by the visual artist Ferruccio Ascari, was approved by the Municipality of Milan and will be located in via Beccaria, in front of piazza Fontana, at the end of the self-financing to which it is possible to contribute on the website Let’s talk about it now with the artist.

Portrait of Ferruccio Ascari, 2023, © Ferruccio Ascari

Fabrizia Eminente: How and when did you approach the “Non Dimenticarmi” committee?
Ferruccio Ascari:Usually a public work is commissioned, Non Dimenticarmi instead arises from a personal emotional drive that is adopted by a group of people, by a community: this is how a Committee was formed around this project with the aim of supporting it and make it happen. It is no coincidence that the Committee took its name from the title I thought of giving to this work.

A simple plaque could have been made in memory of the victims, instead you thought of a grandiose project of real public art. Is art therefore able to speak to people and move consciences?
There are few plaques, some stumbling blocks from the Stolpersteine project, wanted by the associations of the relatives of the victims, that have been placed here and there. What seemed to me to be missing was a strong and comprehensive sign that recalled not only the victims of individual attacks, but all those innocent people sacrificed during a series of massacres: from the one in Piazza Fontana in 1969 to that of the Bologna station in 1980. An infamous project orchestrated by state apparatuses, with neo-fascist laborers, which historians call the Strategy of Tension. I don’t know if public art is always able to stir consciences, in some cases it may happen that the artist’s intention finds resonance in the passer-by’s gaze and in his soul.

Render of the monument Non Dimenticarmi, 2022, Ferruccio Ascari, © Ferruccio Ascari

What inspired you to design the monument? Are there any references, even abroad, from which you drew inspiration?
There are monuments that struck me for their strength, for their evocative power, for example the Memorial dedicated to the victims of the attack on the Twin Towers on September 11 2011, in any case I think Non Dimenticarmi has its own unusual characteristics; I have carefully avoided the rhetoric that often accompanies the monument form, I believe that Non Dimenticarmi can be counted among the anti-monuments. It is an environmental installation in which the presence of sound plays a very important role. My intention was to design a sort of device to activate the collective memory: the sound of the wind chimes, which I specially designed, fulfills the function of arousing the attention of the passer-by; in my intentions it is the voice of the victims who ask not to be forgotten. I conceived this work as a ‘presence’, a sign in the city aimed at arousing questions, at countering the removal of a tragic past.

Designing and building a public monument often faces decisions that go beyond the artist’s thinking. Were there any constraints you had to respect and how has the memorial evolved since it was first conceived?
This work, precisely because it does not come from a public commission, is not exposed to limitations dictated from above, but corresponds to the will of those who wanted it and of those who conceived it. This is not to say that the process of this project was simple. In any case, its collation near Piazza Fontana is a great goal that we have achieved after four years of work and commitment. And it’s not over yet: we must be able to raise the necessary funds to cover the out-of-pocket expenses related to the construction of the work. The collective contribution is a fundamental element not only from an economic point of view but also from a symbolic one, it makes the work become an expression of a community that shares its meaning and that has strongly desired it. Anyone who wants to find out how to contribute can do so by visiting www.nondimenticarmi.orgNon Dimenticarmi is not exhausted in its visible part, but the support, the collective political action that accompanies it, is an integral, not a secondary part of the work itself.

Render del monumento Non Dimenticarmi, 2022, Ferruccio Ascari, © Ferruccio Ascari

Why is it important to remember the victims of the strategy of tension and why create this work in Milan?
For a community, but also for an individual, the memory of one’s history is an extraordinary tool not only for safeguarding one’s identity, but also for salvation. In the individual the loss of memory is considered a pathology, for a community the loss of memory means being exposed to cancellation with all that follows. The realization of Non Dimenticarmi in Milan is somehow connected to this awareness. Milan was the first city to be hit by that infamous project which has been called the ‘Strategy of Tension’, this is where the series of massacres that took place in Italy from 1969 to 1980 began. It is right that from here begin, also with this work, the story of what happened in our country.

Fabrizia Eminente


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