Art Installation in Solidarity with Migrants

San Miniato courtesy of La Repubblica

Golden thermal blankets will cover the centuries-old doors of the Abbey of San Miniato al Monte. The blankets will be placed over the doors on Thursday, June 28 at 7 pm as a sign of solidarity with migrants hoping to find new lives in Europe. Father Bernardo, Father Andrea Bigalli, scientist Stefano Mancuso and art historian Tomaso Montanari will present the installation.

The thermal blankets function as a symbol of hospitality to migrants who have been denied entry to the EU. The San Miniato installation is the first segment of artist Giovanni De Gara’s project Eldorato – Birth of a Nation. The Eldorato project is a series of site-specific installations along a route from Florence to Lampedusa and from Lampedusa back to Rome.

The exhibit coincides both with the human rights crisis of The Lifeline: a ship stranded at sea with 234 migrants on board, and with the Abbey of San Miniato al Monte’s millennial anniversary. The course of the project will be documented through filmography. Giovanni De Gara stated that the project seeks to create “a land of gold:” a kind of promise land where those seeking refuge are accepted. He hopes to conclude the project with a site-specific installation at St. Peter’s in Rome.

Migrants arrive off of crowded boats, wrapped in the very thermal blankets that will envelop the doors of sacred sites across Italy. As Giovanni De Gara states, “[migrant people] left dreaming of a promised land. What awaits them (provided they do not find death at sea, closed doors and raised walls) is instead a long, often endless waiting.” The gilded doors of Eldorato stand as a symbolic sanctuary to those denied a home in a new country.

Father Bernardo commented on the project, saying: “This is not a generic goodness but a contribution to a high reflection and evangelically inspired… [by human] event[s], [such as]…those like the ancient Israel and the same Holy Family of Nazareth, [who] experienced the condition of the exile. [This is] an appeal that we feel [is] in line with the great tradition of La Spezia of this city and especially of this place that the Holy Mayor calls a ‘terrace stretching out to all nations.’” (isabelle blank)