The Italian Cultural Institute is pleased to present a unique photographs exhibit on Nov. 13th, Happenchance: World War II Photographs, Italian Campaign, 1942-1945 by photographer Alfonso Carrara (1922-2012).
Alfonso Carrara, an Italian-American architect-artist-poet-photographer, documented the exhausted, disoriented populations and war-ravaged architecture of Italy’s small towns and villages during the Allied northward advance through the countryside in 1944-45. As a scout, translator and interrogator for the American 5th Army, Carrara, unarmed but carrying a camera, entered towns just as the remnants of the German army were departing. From one profound transitional moment to another, he was able to capture the implicit and understated life-changing drama evidenced by his presence. Carrara’s war vision carries what John Burt described, in Lincoln’s Tragic Pragmatism, as the “inexhaustible inwardness” of its maker.
Carrara, the empathic modernist, made imagery to honor, to the extent possible, the unbiased yet flawed truth of photographic observation. The dramatic subject matter of his photographs reflects the precariousness and immediacy of what he encountered. Carrara’s sensitive and apolitical eye found a wounded heritage, a family’s legacy punished by war, damaged places and wearied faces of the liberated and the ravaged. His camera would, with equanimity, preserve everything from the final destruction of a 19th century village to the very last photographs of Mussolini’s body, in the custody of the American Army, in a plywood coffin.
At the opening, Carrara’s widow, Gillion Carrara, will speak on her husband’s war experiences from Anzio to Piazzale Loreto and beyond. Alan Cohen will speak on the photography.
A reception will follow.
Exhibition hours: Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. from Novemeber 13 – December 18th.
The Italian Cultural Institute is located at 500 N Michigan Ave, Suite 1450.