To preserve is to know, to know is to preserve

Jan 21, 2024

For some time, the topic of heritage preservation as a means of educating society has been approached in various ways. Invited by the president of the Rotary Club of the island of Procida, along with Dr. Salvatore Di Liello, professor of History of Architecture at the Federico II University of Naples, last December 27th, we presented two different perspectives on this theme.

In his presentation, Prof. Di Liello aimed to illustrate, through a photographic album, how the memory and, consequently, the knowledge of rituals, architectural forms, and colors on the island of Procida are being lost. These are elements whose importance was not recognized in time and have now been almost completely erased by the construction industry. However, only through an understanding of the characteristics of such a unique architecture can provide a correct history of its forms and colors.

In my presentation, I started from the fundamental principle of the Faro Convention, namely how heritage conservation is stimulated by civic awareness and how this awareness arises from the knowledge of the heritage by those who inhabit those territories. This is in substantial agreement with the statement of Lithuanian Alfredas Jomanta: “What we can achieve through this Convention is to demonstrate that heritage is all around us and is not limited to an elite. I think this Convention will change the general approach to heritage… but the most important issue is society.”

Knowledge of heritage reconnects gaps, in the Brandian sense of the term. To reconstruct a pictorial gap, that is, a lack of pictorial material in a part of a painting, one must have extreme awareness of everything that surrounds it and how to make the reading of the context clear, both in the existing part and in the reconstructed one. Moreover, society’s reading must adapt when new documents and new “stories” are added.

The role of the diagnostician and their research is fundamental in this process. By engaging with all the various actors in the study of heritage to better interpret their analyses, the diagnostician often manages to add new pieces to the knowledge puzzle. Their analyses help us understand previous restorations and reveal details that have remained hidden from our eyes for centuries. Knowledge of the invisible assists us in a conscious perception of the visible, becoming a part of our daily lives.

Emanuela Massa
Emanuela Massa