Dioramas and Letterpress in Italia

Posted inThe Daily Heller
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The creator of exquisitely complicated narrative “dioramas,” Paolo Ventura, is in the process of preparing for a exhibition of new work in the Museo Fortuny in Venice, opening on March 4 through May 8 2011. (See his work here.)

Designer Kim Mingo, Ventura’s wife, searched out a traditional typographer in Italy, where they currently reside, “who could help us out with the idea for the installation of the show and,” says Mingo, “stumbled across a TREASURE!”

The typographer she found from Arezzo is 76 years old and has been working for the past 60 years in the same location. “The shop is functioning since 1900 which much of the original equipment is still there and there are rooms upon rooms of wood and lead type,” Mingo adds. “Unfortunately all of the historic posters have either been tossed or stolen over the years. I’ve designed and printed a poster for Paolo’s show (L’AUTOMA – or the Automaton) side by side with the owner. What and experience.”

The Automaton is a narrative story consisting of both photographs and text. It is set in the ghetto of Venice during the winter of war of 1942. An old Jewish watch maker, with a passion for books and mechanical devices, decides to construct an automaton to keep him company during a time when very few remained in the ghetto. The months pass and the old man becomes very attached to the automaton. A magical thing happens one night when the fascist police come to evacuate the ghetto, which makes the old man regard his creation differently.The story is one that Ventura’s father used to tell his children. It is a story that he invented. However, never being written down it varied slightly each time he told it. It is inspired by an actual event – the night of December 5, 1942 the fascist police evacuated the remaining Jews from the ghetto of Venice. Over 200 Jews were deported. Very few returned.

Read Mingo’s blog for more about L’AUTOMA and her “Typographic Treasure.” And find information on the the typographic treasures to be found at the SVA Masters Workshop in Venice and Rome here.

(Photos courtesy Kim Mingo. Poster designed by Kim Mingo and Paolo Ventura.)