Location: Villa Bottini, via Elisa 9
Date:4 settembre – 3 ottobre 2021

curated by Francesco Colombelli
produced by Fotografia Europea

What happens when an invention deviates from the thought of who created it?
It is known that gunpowder, born from the imagination and the skills of the Chinese people between the 10th and 12th centuries, was not immediately used for military purposes. In the beginning it was, in fact, used for religious rites or intended for recreational use during the holidays. Then the Chinese themselves were the first to use the black powder in rudimentary weapons, to defend themselves against Mongol invasions. But it was above all in 15th century Europe that the use of gunpowder became significant, through the development of new firearms, destined to mark the end of the cavalry wars.

This short premise allows us to introduce the world of weapons and war technologies, which in the last two centuries, due to numerous military and non-military studies and inventions,  had an unprecedented development, changing the methods and the consequences of war , affecting millions of civilians as never before.
Photography first came into direct contact with war in 1855, when Roger Fenton was called to document the Crimean War and captured the British military machine without showing the more tragic aspects of the war. The American Civil War (1861-1865) was instead documented in shots that did not hide the atrocities.
Photography, for its part, has also contributed to the development of warfare techniques. From the early 1900s, aerial photography, already experimented with since Nadar in 1858, was applied to military aviation, to which it provided valuable tactical information.
In addition to contributing to technical developments, photography has also documented the inventions of weapons that changed the course of history, recounting the horrors derived from inventions that later became weapons of mass destruction. A resounding example of this is that of nuclear energy, adapted within a few years of its discovery as a war weapon through the “Manhattan Project”, which led to one of the blackest pages in contemporary history. Over the past 70 years, numerous books have documented the development of combat weapons, which have adapted to the most modern technologies and become part of the daily life of millions of people.

Foul and Awesome Display presents these themes through a selection of both historical and contemporary photographic books. The exhibition included a selection of images from the Brancoli Pantera Fund of the Archivio Fotografico Lucchese “A. Fazzi”. The photographs, realized during the Italian participation in the Eastern Front (1942-42) when Brancoli Pantera was one of the photographers of the Italian Army in Russia, are a valuable evidence of the conditions and equipment of the Italian Army.