"Pavane for Antigone", a performance in Ljubljana to mark 100 years since the outbreak of First World War

"Pavane for Antigone is a kaleidoscope of intimate artistic confessions expressing the longing of modern man for peace with one’s self and the world, for the ending of social discord and perpetual conflict that have all but exhausted humanity." We just wanted to give evidence to this premiere. We are working to offer you in the next days an interview with the director Hanna Preuss. The performance marks 100 years since the First World War.

Sonorous Theatre of Hanna Preuss:
Sonorous Art Centre Vodnik Manor, Upper Hall (Click for location)
Premiere: Monday 28 July at 21.00 hours
Reprises: Tuesday 29 July at 19.00 and 21.00 hours
www.mojekarte.si (or on site during office hours and one hour before each performance)
Information and personal reservations: info@vodnikova-domacija.si
Price of admission: 12 EUR, *7 EUR (children, students, pensioners, unemployed)

Through the universal aesthetics of sound and light, the Sonorous theatre transcends the boundaries of language.

Original concept and soundscape: Hanna Preuss
Poetry and acting: Antonella Bukovaz
Saxophone: Antonio della Marina
Video: Hanna Slak
Motiongraphy: Luka Umek
Lighting: Jaka Šimenc
Set design: Tomaž Primožič
Costume: Jožica Trstenjak
Sound engineering: Markus Krohn
Head technician: Marko Trstenjak
Technical assistance: Domen Bertoncelj
Graphic design: Jaro Jelovac
Photography: Nada Žgank
Translations: Jeremi Slak
Public relations: Marko Ipavec
Organization: Nadja Šimnovec
Executive producer: Marko Ipavec
Produced by Hanna’s Atelier for Sonorous Arts

First World War one day itineraries through Italy. Suggestion no. 16: Forte Interrotto and Monte Mosciagh on the Altopiano of Asiago

Driving to Asiago, at the heart of the Altopiano of the same name, gives always an impression of getting out of the “contemporary world” and of entering another dimension. This does not mean that the small towns of this plateau (also called Altopiano dei Sette Comuni, since it gathers seven municipalities) are stuck in the past, on the contrary. Asiago for example is equipped with all facilities and opportunities one can wish for a nice vacation. Nevertheless you immediately feel that the sense of time and space are quite different from that of the near plain of Bassano and Vicenza, and even quite different from that of the near valley of the river Brenta or the mountain region of Trento. 

It hinges on the fact that the Asiago plateau, like many others plateaus, has developed over time a sort of autarchic management of the local natural and human resources. There are of course historical grounds for this situation, being the Altopiano the settlement of a minority from the Cimbri tribe, with its own language and a huge political and economical autonomy till the XIX century. There are also geographical grounds, since Asiago was hardly accessible (even today, when you can drive on comfortable roadways, it takes quite a long to reach Asiago from the near Bassano) and used to be isolated from the rest of the world for a large part of the year (the winter is really very cold and snowy!). Stated in short, if in the mountain valleys and regions you have always the perception of a uninterrupted relation with the plain southwards or with the biggest centers, i.e. cultural and economical intersections, of the Alpine region, the Asiago plateau seems to be trained to stand alone or at least to look at the northern or southern connections, even if essential, as something peripheral or accessory. 

This is the reason why this region offers even today an unspoiled nature and – which is here the point – a particular historical memory related to the Great War. The Asiago plateau is in fact one of the few places in Italy which have endured the WWI at the front line throughout the conflict, i.e. for more than 40 months. 

The old border line between Italy and the Austrian-Hungarian Empire ran before WWI along the northern limit of the plateau. As in May 1916 the Austrian Commander in Chief, General Conrad von Hotzendorf, decided to start the Strafexpedition (Punitive Expedition) against the former Ally, now treacherous Enemy, the tableland of Asiago stood obviously in the middle of the aggression and, at the beginning of the conflict, was invaded. The Austrian advance toward the southern edge of the Altopiano, which represented a sort of springboard on the Venetian plain, was however arrested at the beginning of June 1916. The Austrian Army was so forced to retreat and to fix the front line from the northern slope of Monte Pasubio, across Monte Zebio, just at the back of the town of Asiago, and, turning than north, over Monte Ortigara (the situation changes after the Caporetto rout, shifting the front line southern on the Altopiano and straight over the Grappa range and the river Piave).

No surprise then if you find trenches and monuments – especially military cemeteries – related to the Great War almost everywhere here. However the visitor is impressed not only by their number, but also by the unique scenery, they are placed in. The isolation and autarchy of this region get along with a deep care of the natural landscape. Pastures and woods are meticulously farmed and protected, and yet still respected in their spontaneity. It’s a sort of symbiosis between humans and nature which embraces also the traces of the tragic events of WWI, so that you have the strange feeling of peace and deference, even while visiting the trenches or the military cemeteries. 

And a newly restored itinerary through five war cemeteries was the goal of our spring excursion. Unfortunately the weather condition weren’t good enough to walk it completely. We suggest therefore today to our readers only a part of it as a foretaste and postpone the itinerary through the war cemeteries and the trenches of Monte Zebio for a while.
The itinerary is very simple, last about 3/3.30 hours all together, and is accessible for everybody in good physical shape (you just need suitable shoes). Starting point, from Asiago few kilometers towards Trento, is the hamlet of Camporovere. Park in front of  the church of Camporovere and walk shortly backward, with direction Asiago. On your left you will find a small road with the brown sign indicating Forte Interrotto. Follow it and reach the meadows, which immediately climb the slope behind the houses. We suggest to walk first along the road, crossing then the grove of Monte Rasta and reaching in about 30 minutes the Forte Interotto. The imposing structure of this military base – which is only erroneously called Fort – was build during the second half of the XIX century. Completely made of stones and based on medieval building models (it looks like a castle, indeed), the structure was a perfect observation and defensive outpost, dominating the wide valley of Asiago, and was equipped therefore with machine guns and cannons. It was occupied by the Austrian Army only during the attack of may 1916 and connected with Monte Rasta, where an armored observatory was immediately placed. Till the end of the Great War it served also as billet for the troops and if you walk short in it you can easily recognize the rooms used as dormitory, kitchen, stable and as food water or ammunition storage. Informative placards illustrate the history of Forte Interrotto and  at the entrance show photos taken before and after its renovation as part of the project of an Ecomuseum Great War of the Pre-Alps of Vicenza.

If you have time, we suggest to continue the excursion and reach in about 45 minutes the war cemeteries of Mosciagh following the so called Sentiero della pace / Friedensweg (a 68km itinerary on the trail of the WWI in the Altopiano). Behind Forte Interrotto take the forest road and at the first crossroad follow the path on the left with direction Colle del Mosciagh. After an immersion in an absolutely charming fir wood, you can easily reach a small monument dedicated to the Catanzaro Brigade, which served the Italian Army already in the terrible battle of May-June 1916 in order to stop and drive back the Austrian attack. A few meters beyond, two Austrian-Hungarian war cemeteries rest in a small dip at the feet of Monte Zebio. When we reached them, they were almost completely plunged into the snow – the photos evidence that an excursion here has to be planned for the late spring/early summer! But despite the weather conditions, it was worth walking among these tiny (wood and stone) grave markers, stumble upon the single name or the (always hard to swallow) number of Unbekannte – unidentified names, faces, story lives. And nevertheless, above all, the wood surrounds and protect this place, in peace and respect.

The way back follows the same path to Forte Interrotto and than goes down, eventually across the meadows, to Camporovere. When you have reached the car, you can eat something in one of the restaurants in the hamlet or you can drive to Asiago, where there are many places to take refreshment. But, once you are here, don’t forget to visit the renowned War Memorial of the Great War: it is a will and a pleasure.

100 WW1 articles from the Maney Publishing available for free download

Good news for those who are looking for contributions to study the Great War from many perspectives. 100 articles from the Maney Publishing online archive are now available to download for free in July and August 2014. No registration is required. Articles have been selected from over 25 journals in the fields of history, archaeology, literature and culture including the following key titles: 
Journal of War & Culture Studies, Journal of Conflict Archaeology, War & Society.
This is the link to visit the WW1 Centenary Collection and below are the article highlights:
- Masculinity and Commemoration of the Great War: Gabriele D'Annunzio's La beffa di Buccari and Eugenio Baroni's Monumento al Fante, Italian Culture;
- Commemoration of the Great War: A Global Phenomenon or a National Agenda?, Journal of Conflict Archaeology;
- Cutting a New Pattern: Uniforms and Women's Mobilization for War 1854–1919, Textile History;
- Remembering War, Resisting Myth: Veteran Autobiographies and the Great War in the Twenty-first Century, Journal of War & Culture Studies.

You can visit the WW1 Centenary Collection at this site

Italian Great War Museums #6: museum at Forte Badin near Chiusaforte

Connecting Austria with the Friulian plateau and consequently with the sea, Val Fella was since the antiquity a strategic point of the north-eastern Italian Alps and the nearby village of Chiusaforte played a defensive role. Here the Italian Army built up at the beginning of the XX century a fort on the near located Col Badin, a small summit with a great panorama upon the Julian Alps. The fort was then particularly important during the WWI. After the Caporetto rout, the Italian troops quartered here tried to stop the Austrian Feldjäger, were however defeated immediately in October 1917. Forte Badin was used then in the postwar period as barrack and training place, then slowly dismissed. Only about a decade ago, as the Municipality of Chiusaforte became the owner of Forte Badin, local authorities started wondering about reparing these buildings and using them for cultural and educative purpose. That's why a massive restoration project of the original structure of the fort took place under the supervision of a team of venetian architects. Forte Badin was so transformed in an innovative Museum on WWI, providing also accommodation possibilities.

If every new initiative and space devoted to WWI should be welcomed, the Great War Museum of Chiusaforte deserves a special mention, since the restoration intervention show a peculiar awareness of “time feeling”. The buildings intended to the reception of the visitors (mainly the civil parts, such as the dormitories, where info point and cafeteria are placed) were accurately renewed. In the other edifices (namely those used for war necessities) the intervention was instead limited in “stopping” the degradation process. That's why graffiti and traces of soldiers who stayed at the fort from its construction, then during the Great War, up to its abandonment in the late Sixties were preserved together with the calcareous incrustations and the erosion or the water infiltration. 

An important chapter of the story of this fort was the First World War, as mentioned. The Museum is therefore consecrated to this period, yet in a quite unexpected way. We all are accustomed to the “traditional” museums, with their showcases, their artificial light, their informative labels, sometimes some open-air expositions, always accompanied with the warning “Do not touch!” hanging somewhere nearby. Someone may also share our childish attitude of slight intolerance for not being allowed to touch what we see, even if we can perfectly understand and support the “preservative purposes” of such limitations. Now, Forte Badin is the right place where we can discover a new balance among all museum purposes and our curiosity, since it is primarily intended to offer a multisensorial experience of the WWI. Such a goal is pursued starting from the basic concept of light and sound. The space of the Museum is so articulated to combine the artificial with the natural light as primary stage to dispose sounds and images, creating so an emotional involvement of the visitor. A team of specialists have profiled a very interesting thematic itinerary, in order to enables the visitor to discover more about war artillery and battles, especially in the surrounding of Chiusaforte, i.e. Val Roccolana, Dogna and Rio del Lago. Above all, Forte Badin proposes a “hand-on” museum: visitors can touch, smell, listen to the objects and the rests found in the region, such as helmets, bayonets, ragged uniforms or flasks. Besides, you can find photograph and maps concerning the territory, as it represents a central element of this narration of WWI. The interest in the battles and in the material or geographical aspects is also combined with the attention to the human essence of the conflict: in two of the four cannons-dome of the fort, an emotional experience of the Great War is proposed focusing on poetry and on war diaries in different languages and using photographic portraits of many of those who were directly involved in the conflict.

Due to some bureaucratic setbacks, the Museum has still a restricted accessibility. However, you can get further information on the Museum and forthcoming opening time at the municipality of Chiusaforte.