Paolo VENTURA: A Venetian Story – Automaton

The biggest photography event in Hungary, BUDAPEST PHOTO FESTIVAL opens its’ fourth year with an unique exhibition on the border of Fine Art and Photography, imagination and reality. As every year, the Festival guides the audience to a new sequence of visuality with its’ opening exhibition on 28th of February 2020. at MŰCSARNOK.

Paolo VENTURA: A Venetian Story – Automaton

The Automaton is a peculiar and depressing fairytale set in Venice during the WWII, when the German army stormed Italy to prevent the defection of Italians. It is based on a story told to Paolo Ventura as a child by his father, a storybook writer by profession. The protagonist is an elderly Jewish watchmaker living in the Venice ghetto in 1943, one of the darkest periods of Nazi occupation and the rule of the fascist regime in Italy. The story unfolds in this desolate and fearful part of the city.

The old man decides to build an automaton (a robot boy), to keep him company while he awaits the arrival of the fascist police. It is the story of an old Jewish man who builds an automaton to keep himself company in these dark times.

Ventura’s Venice is familiar for us all, yet still somehow very distant.

Our impression is that it might have only existed in a fantasy, even though every aspect of it is utterly realistic. The same goes for history itself, our common past. We would like to believe that these strange, gloomy and scary memories can only exist in nightmares. That maybe the victims of past times were not real humans, but tiny figurines in a dreamlike puppet-show. Ventura says about the project: “All the images were taken in an imaginary Venice, built by myself on a small scale. The only real fact of the story is the raid of the ghetto in Venice by the German army and Italian police in early December of 1943.”

Artists long fantasized about automated machines. Think of the lady created by the watchmaker protagonist of the popular ballet, Coppelia, or the singing robot of the well-known Offenbach opera, we can also associate to Pinocchio, who was brought to life. Although people creating robots were admired, they were also mocked and feared. The greater community excluded them. Humanoid robots always reminded us that humanity may not be able to control everything it has created.

Forcing people to live in confined places like ghettos – just because of their religious views – first happened 500 years ago in 1516.

The founder of Campo di Ghetto Nuovo was Doge Loredan, the destroyer of its walls was Europe’s symbolic hero, Napoleon.

The word ghetto itself comes from Venice too, where the story of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice takes place. Throughout centuries, many Jewish culture met and influenced each other on the busy and narrow streets and in the five synagogues.

Under the Nazi regime they deported hundreds of the remaining Jews from this area, and only eight survived the concentration camps of Trieste and Auschwitz.

Venue: MŰCSARNOK / Kunsthalle – 1146 Budapest, Dózsa György út 37.
Date: 2020.02.29. – 06.07.
Opening hours:  Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday 10:00–18:00, Thursday 12:00–20:00 Saturday, Sunday 10.00-18.00

Budapest Photo Festival

The Budapest Photo Festival is an annual city-wide exhibition series what represents the contemporary and classical values of the photography by the presence of the Hungarian and international art scene. The aim of the Festival is to create Budapest to be the „City of Photography”.

The festival has two highlighted exhibitions as a frame: the opening international show and a Hungarian contemporary overview. The emphasis, – next to the two highlighted exhibitions – , is on the presentation of the national and international contemporary scene, by the program of the biggest galleries, museums and the International Cultural Institutes of the Hungarian Capital. The Festival involves many public and professional programs also: lectures, workshops, photomarathon, museum educational events, portfolio review.


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