Project Description


Fondazione Accademia Carrara and CSV – Service Centre for Charity Work, Bergamo, 2017

A group, that’s what we are: simply a group. A group of people meeting, sitting in a circle and talking about our problems, how we feel and what we think. One at a time, and the others listen. But the most important thing about “our painting” is that, while we are talking, we look in each other’s eyes.

AMA – Auto Mutuo Aiuto volunteers

Can the artworks of a museum be “illuminated”, so that we may find our life choices mirrored in them? This is the question underpinning “The Works and Days” project, jointly promoted by the Fondazione Accademia Carrara and CSV – Service Centre for Charity Work in Bergamo.

Le opere e i giorni, Accademia Carrara e CSV di Bergamo
Photo by Maria Grazia Panigada

The storytellers of “The Works and Days” are 24 volunteers from 12 local voluntary associations operating in different domains, from the daily care of persons with physical or mental disabilities, to the assistance of those with material needs.

They worked in pairs, getting personally involved in museum activities designed and run by the Education Department of the Museum (coordinated by Silvia Mascheroni from 2016 to 2018), and revolving around macro themes connected with the charity goals of the participants’ respective associations: food, maternity, courage, portrait, landscape and journey. The aim of such activities, followed by an intensive storytelling work with Maria Grazia Panigada in the exhibition spaces, was to help volunteers identify an artwork from the Carrara collections which could embody the fundamental purpose of their work, and to start a “conversation” with it, by interweaving its story with theirs.

The whole process resulted in the production of a calendar for year 2017: short written versions of those “conversations”, different in structure and rhythm, and yet sharing a similar way of looking, where the artworks are recognised as a mirror of one’s own commitment and life experience as a volunteer.

Watch the calendar in pdf format


And right up there, small figures representing those in power, sheltered in a high, distant, detached place…
Power watching from a distance the borders of its own making: borders fencing in, shutting out, isolating and killing. Beyond them, a beautiful landscape.
The massive wall seems to loom over us, splitting the painting in two, and yet opening up a space for flight and migration to happen.
Fleeing to save one’s own life, but also to protect those who are left behind.
Volunteers from the Ruah Community on The Slaughter of the Innocents and Flight into Egypt by Francesco Caroto, 1527

I told you my story. You gave shape to my words.
I told you about bewilderment, and now I see it in your eyes, staring off in a distant past.
I told you about weariness and surrender. And there they are, reflected in your hand resting on the book, in your body slowly slumping on the wooden chair.
And while I was talking and remembering, through you I discovered a firm, tenacious grip, hungry for present. Just like your knuckles, clutching the armrest.
I hold on to it myself, for a minute. The short time of a story.

Volunteers from Telefono Amico on Painful memories – Portrait of Santina Negri di Pellizza da Volpedo, 1889
Together we discovered new worlds, looked at clear skies, embraced generous rivers.
Today, you are holding in your bag much more than just a fish: the world you learned to love, the tears you shared, your heartfelt affections, the dreams to accomplish.
Today, my dear Tobiolo, you are ready to go… Gift your parents with your gaze full of hope and trust, this is the most precious thing you may ever give them.
Thank them for the life and love they gave you, and then run, run as fast as you can to open new paths for those human beings who need your gaze.
Volunteers from the CAF Cooperative on Tobiolo and Raphael the Archangel by Francesco Botticini, 1475-1485
Your eyes speak to us indeed!
They seem to tell us you are melancholy; more than that, sad; more than that, lonely.
It looks like you’re asking for something… you may be asking for help, perhaps our help.
Volunteers from AMA on Portrait of a young lady with fan by Giacomo Ceruti, 1740 c.
Le opere e i giorni, Accademia Carrara, narrazioni
Photo by Maria Grazia Panigada
Photo by Maria Grazia Panigada