Memory and Migration

The New Humanity Committee, the social expression of the Focolare Movement, has been active in the historic centre of Genoa for more than thirty years working with the most marginalized people, organized a series of events linked to the theme of migration. With the sponsorship of several institutions and associations in the Liguria Region a closely-knit network of relationships has been created, enriching the social fabric of the town. The chosen venue was the Galata Museo del Mare, which besides having numerous displays about seafaring life, has reconstructed historical scenes about Italian migration: for example passenger liners of times past going to the Boca neighbourhoods in Buenos Aires or Ellis Island in the USA.

This was the framework which hosted an exhibition, at the beginning of 2014, with the title “Going in-depth: a journey through memory and migration”, focusing on the theme of interior migration, that is the attitude of soul which coincides with the cultural nomadism of contemporary art. Artists from different origins exhibited their work like Ignacio Llamas from Spain and Claire Morard from France, but also Pieo Gilardi, one of the first Italian pop artists, well known at an international level.

The theme of migration was a point of convergence for multicultural, interfaith and ecumenical dialogue, for encounter and close collaboration between some Catholic movements which were involved in the past with events linked to “Together for Europe” (Cursillos, Sant’Egidio, Equipe Notre Dame, Incontri Coniugali and Charismatic Renewal), and included the participation as protagonists of the migrants themselves. The New Family Movement presented themes on support at a distance and integration at school, involving over 200 students from local High Schools.

Over a thousand people attended the event, including a workshop on creative writing and a concluding concert, organized by the Jazz class of the Paganini Conservatory of Genoa; thanks to which about twenty artists met together afterwards for three days of dialogue, which gave the possibility to each of the participants to find new energies to continue on the way of artistic communion.

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The dignity and worth of the person were characteristic aspects of the debate, which left space also for the moving experiences of Chaia, a Sahrawian young man who told his suffered experience of how, together with a young man from Magreb, after crossing the desert, landed in Lampedusa and is now integrated in the Genoese reality.

The moments of dialogue were important and hosted well-known religious and movement leaders, like the president of Migrantes, a pastor of a South American Evangelical Church, the Imam of the Muslim community and the Abbot of a Buddhist monastery. This comment, we feel, expresses the reality lived by many: “I felt that that place assumed a sacredness and became a temple, pagoda, hall, mosque, because we were composing a single prayer to the one God of all humanity, and it was not just a question of sentimental feelings, but of intelligence and hearts that become one”.

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