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Martha Rosler in The war which is coming is not the first one Great war 1914-2014

The exhibition is a project organized by Mart, the museum of modern and contemporary art of Trento and Rovereto, with the collaboration of experts in history and contemporary art.

Through the development of a series of complementary contributions, the exhibition draws a distance from a simple reflection about history and offers a more complex overview regarding the topicality of the conflict, which is still today at the centre of debate.

The First World War being remembered now was one of the most dramatic and significant events of the modern era, and here represents the starting point for a broader investigation running through 20th-century history to the conflicts of the present day.

The Mart tackles the hardest, most afflicted and thorny of issues, taking on not just the telling of history, but also the comprehensive exposure of some of the truths marking it. This project has required and requires not only objectivity and detachment but also participation and clarity.
It is not enough not to want war and to desire peace.

The exhibition takes as its starting point Bertolt Brecht’s famous poem: “The war which is coming / is not the first one. There were /other wars before it. / When the last one came to an end / there were conquerors and conquered. /Among the conquered the common people / starved. Among the conquerors / the common people starved too.” The museum tries to tell a story from which emerges an intense voyage rooted in that war and leading to the most tragic recent history.

The exhibition develops the theme by adopting a variety of viewpoints and touching also on the most sensitive, delicate and sometimes controversial points. It presents a view of the event as the result of a narrative composition in which art meets history, politics and anthropology.

Recurring to a sort of complex thematic and temporary assemblage, the exhibition avoids following a precise chronological order, demonstrating – through new semantic combinations and short-cuts – how all wars are the same and at the same time how each war is different. The intention is not to provide an inventory of the conflicts of yesterday and today, and nor to downplay the irreducible historic differences, but to maintain open research and thinking in a place in which remembering does not mean reducing an event to something petrified, archived and definitively sealed within itself but, on the contrary, revealing interpretations and re-readings able to express all their complexity.

In the exhibition, art comes into contact with everyday life: the masterpieces of the avant-garde movements maintain a dialogue with the propaganda, with the format of the whole exhibition, and renews the value of the documents, reports and accounts on display. Installations, drawings, prints, photographs, paintings, posters, postcards, letters, diaries share the over 3000 square meters of the top floor of the Mart, where they meet recent artistic experimentations, sound installations and filmed narratives: original documents, videos and films. Also on display are many war relics used in the First World War: every object has its own story to tell, and their finding is the most recent chapter in an event that is still topical.

Director of the project
Cristiana Collu

Project curated by
Nicoletta Boschiero
Saretto Cincinelli
Gustavo Corni
Gabi Scardi
Camillo Zadra

Coordinated by
Nicoletta Boschiero
Denis Isaia
Ilaria Cimonetti