IMMAGINA FESTIVAL 2021
Welcome to IMMAGINA Festival of illustrated stories.
We hope to give you a precious good: some time to sit down, to immerse yourself inside the pages of a book, and to live amazing, unknown, unexpected stories.
We are happy to be here, together. We chose 50 titles to talk about the silence, and with this small booklet, we would love to guide you to their discovery.
We wish you a fantastic trip!
The Festival is brought to you by the IMMAGINA association thanks to so many volunteers that made this special event possible.
Illustrated stories are our passion and we want to share them with everyone, through laboratories, training courses, workshops, meetings and exhibitions.
I encourage you to for a moment about the silence.
What comes to your mind? Do you have a positive, negative or neutral idea?
Silence is a complex concept.
John Cage, that transformed silence into his music, concluded that:
“The silence doesn’t exist, there is always something producing sound. This something is the fact that we are alive.”
Silence has so many shapes that concern its time and its space.
With silence, we can generate dialogue, poetry and oblivion, a unique ingredient for building bridges or throwing you into the deepest abyss.
We split this exhibition into two main areas: the silence of nature and the silence of mankind.
Every “island” exposes several books that iterate over the same topic with different aspects.
This brief compendium to the exhibition will be a compass to help you find your way: the index alongside will allow you to explore it autonomously.
All the books are illustrated: their power is into their poetic way to interpret specific matters, through empathetic and immersive storytelling
Among the titles certain ones deserve special attention: these are books without words. In Italy we call them simply “silent books”.
A silent book proposes a co-building of the meaning by the author and the reader: every interpretation is right, alive and ever-changing.
It’s a flawed reading where the reader needs to fill the gaps with its experience, its life, its own story.
You may find some volunteers with blue t-shirts around you: they are the keepers of the imagination, ready to help you in case you are feeling lost or if you want to find another way.
THE SILENCE OF NATURE
Those who live in a city know it well, whenever there is the occasion to reach a place far from the urban environment we always think one thing: how silent is here!
But if you stop to think for a minute, the silence we are talking about is not “absence of sound”, what you are hearing is the “silence of nature”, that, to be even more precise, it is the quiet of the man.
Gordon Hempton, acoustic ecologist, thought that the silence that we appreciate in front of nature is not the absence of sound, but the weakening of the fanfare, the tremor and the hammering caused by mankind and that surround our planet:
«When we look at the healthiest ecosystems that exist today on our planet, we’re finding they’re also the quietest places».4. — G. Hempton
Listening to the silence of nature in an authentic way, without noises and artificial backgrounds, is a unique event. What you are hearing now is “Olympic National Park”, a track recorded by Gordon Hempton into his “One Square Inch of Silence”, located into the Olympic National Park, described by the author as the quietest place in the USA.
Silence has a place and as such it could be protected or invaded.
Sit down, take the book and find your space.
Sit down, take the book and, at least you, try to listen.
We do it in such a systematic way that we find it natural, not realising how invasive we can be and without considering all the consequences.
Sit down, take the book and try to focus on the silence that isn’t here.
Sit down, take the book and enter on tiptoes. Don’t make a noise, they can be scared.
Sit down, take the book and don’t be afraid.
Sit down, take the book and go wherever you feel good.
Sit down, take the book and look calmly, from far and near.
Sit down, take the book and you will find out how difficult it is to abandon our habits.
IL SILENZIO DELL’UOMO
An anechoic chamber is a room designed to experience absolute silence.
«I visited an anechoic chamber at Harvard University […] I heard two sounds, one high and one low. When I described them to the engineer in charge, he informed me that the high one was my nervous system in operation, the low one my blood in circulation»8. — J. Cage
The idea of absolute silence is as far from human reality as possible.
Life itself is manifested in sounds.
“Stop interrupting me! I heard you in silence before, and now it’s your time to shut up and let me talk”. Dialogue needs someone talking but also someone listening (quietly, hopefully).
Even the speaker uses silence, to set the rhythm and to generate moments of suspense when others can intervene. Silence is part of the speech as much as words.
Sit down, take the book and browse it slowly. At every double-page spread try to wait with them.
Sit down, take the book and listen. There is a secret and you alone will know that.
Sit down, take the book and, when you are ready, close your eyes.
Listen to what’s going on inside your head.
Sit down, take the book and remember that this is just training: with exercise, breaking silence will be easier.
«There is a rhetoric intended as a form of organization of the speech that tries to mitigate the speech, to mute it somehow: rhetorical devices such as reticence or preterition tend to weaken the communication, to bring it to the minimum»1. — G. Paioni
Sit down, take the book and tell me a story. A simple story to hear over and over until I don’t recognize it anymore.
Sit down, take the book and read the story. It could sound strange, but I’m sure that if you concentrate you will be able to see all the details.
Then, while falling into the void, vertigo takes us out of the dream.
Sit down, take the book and fall into the story.
To get back you have to try vertigo that silence will leave you.
«The “Big manual Koch about painting” (intended for house painters).
“[…] an ideal book for children. Nobody ever wanted to explain that book to me, and as I started making some questions they answered that it was too boring. […] I started observing those images and inventing stories […] In addition I was eager to learn how to read; I was burning with the desire to compare my stories with Koch text».
— P. Bichsel
Sit down, take this huge book and start searching. Search, discover,
learn and I’m sure you will be surprised by the number of things you didn’t remember to know.
«The poetic word has a peculiar, exclusive property: while other words talk into silence, the poetic word tries to give voice to the silence itself, to point it out. […] It’s not about using the silence into a conversation to let the dialogue flow, it’s about exposing, let the silence talk, let the voice itself of the silence talk»1. — G. Paioni
Sit down, take the book and hold your breath. It’s time to dive.
Sit down, take the book and hold on tight. We have to act quickly.
Sit down, take the book and give yourself the time of a life.
Sit down, take the book. It’s a visa for a one-way trip.
Sit down, take the book. Now you know it too.
Sit down, take the book and spread your wings.
Sit down, take the book and be brave: you will find the right words.
Sit down, take the book and don’t be afraid. If you give it space it will fill it.
SILENCE OF OBLIVION
Some stories are fatally interrupted: it happens to people who disappear, who are gone forever or even to the ones that lose their minds. But some stories are intentionally deleted to silence them forever, thanks to a threatening power: censorship, Index of prohibited books, book burning.
Sit down, take the book and tell me, did you miss something too?
Sit down, take the book and hold it tight with your hand.
Sit down, take the book. Lift the cover, read the inscription. Proceed.
Sit down, take the book. When you’re done, offer a hug.
Sit down, take the book, and observe. Where are you now?
Sit down, take the book. It’ll be the ruination.
It’s in memory of every book that received the same treatment or that never saw the light because of censorship.
History has a long series of kings, leaders, fundamentalists, fanatics, that felt so endangered by ideas written down that they desired to burn them.
In modern times the worst page of European history remembers the Nazis book burning where books deemed not to be in line were cast into the fire.
Even if it was a symbolic act, it produced prolonged censorship and put the culture into a state of siege.
After the Nazis fell, many people did their best to bring back Germany and Europe to a time of peace and harmony. Among them, in 1945 Jella Lepman coordinated a special programme of assistance for German women and children: she was convinced that cultural reconstruction and revival should have started from children. So she wrote to western governments:
this letter contains an unusual request, therefore we ask for your particular understanding. We are looking for a way to put German children in contact with books belonging to every other nation. German children do not even have a book anymore, since the children’s literature was taken away. […] Children have no responsibility for the war and this is why these books should be the first messengers of peace. These books will be reunited into a travelling exhibition that will move through Germany and then, maybe, other countries.
We ask especially for books made by figures only or at least very illustrated, that could help overcome the language barrier. […] Images will speak a universal language and will cheer up children everywhere»10. — J. Lepman
In 1946 came to life the first great post-war cultural event: the International Youth Book Exhibition.
«Silence works differently according to literary genres, types of speeches, figures or narrative configurations. It works differently for the mystic, spiritual word, and for told word: not only because the mystic speech is a monologic speech, while the told word is a dialogical speech, but also because the mission of the mystic speech is to build some kind of void that is not passive, but active, meaning that it creates the space to let the other talk, let God talk»1. — G. Paioni