SanArtLAB: art and culture beyond healthcare

Padua , 4 Apr - 5 May 2019

A long life. New generations: ambitions to the test

The General Cloister of the Basilica of Sant'Antonio in Padua (the Santo, as it is commonly called) hosted the photographic exhibition "A long life. New generations: ambitions to the test", promoted by the Farmafactoring Foundation in April 2019. During the same period, a selection of photos on the same theme was exhibited at the Department of Developmentand Socialisation Psychology of the University of Padua.

The exhibition presented the photographs of Costantino Ruspoli taken to illustrate the habits, attitudes and interests of children and adolescents, using images to retrace the contents of the Annual Report prepared by the Farmafactoring Foundation with the contribution of Censis and Cergas-Bocconi. The report is dedicated to today's youth and constitutes the second phase of a three-year research project that started from the silver age (Palermo Nov. 2017-Jan. 2018) and will conclude by examining the world of adults.

The report highlights the great potential, hand in hand with the weaknesses, that distinguish today's youth. With a particular expressive technique, also to respect the rules on privacy and on the protection of minors, Costantino Ruspoli travelled through Italy to bring daily life to the foreground together with symbolic and somehow exceptional expressions.

The panorama on children and adolescents has very special characteristics. Starting from the notion that the foundations for good health in adulthood are laid out at the conception stage, there is no lack of critical factors even within a society such as the Italian one which, thanks also to a particularly effective paediatric system, is substantially optimistic, especially in its ability to prevent and treat diseases.

A second aspect is that of economic elements, with particular expression in recent years due to a particularly serious crisis, but in a longer-term vision with the scarcity of resources destined for the family and children. In this perspective, the fact that Italy remains one of the last places in Europe providing fiscal and financial incentives that can support families with multiple children as well as social aid structures such as nursery schools, especially in the centre and south of the country, is noteworthy. Particular initiatives, such as those of company nurseries, appear to be growing, but very slowly in the wake of a law which has provided for special facilities since 2001.

The overall health conditions of the very young are progressively improving, with positive signs also seen in eating habits and the frequency with which they play sports. But at the same time the conditions of poverty, family stress and uneasiness are growing, also due to an economic crisis that has profoundly affected social dynamics. The analysis also reveals alarming new problems related to mental illness, such as bullying and cyberbullying.

The Report makes quite clear how the health of children and adolescents is the key to a society's future success: the foundations to ensure good health in adulthood are laid out during childhood and adolescence. In general, the national healthcare system is not yet ready to provide support structures for the current problems faced by today's youth.

The exhibition was sponsored by Veneranda Arca of S. Antonio in collaboration with the University of Padua Department of Development and Socialisation Psychology. On this occasion, Farmafactoring Foundation undertook to support the restoration of the Statue of Rinaldino depicting St. Anthony, from the first half of the 1300s, which was relocated to the Antonian Museum inside the Complex of Basilica del Santo, the work's original location.

The exhibition was accompanied by a book containing the photographs of Costantino Ruspoli and a summary of the Report by the Farmafactoring Foundation. The exhibition and book were both curated by Alessandro Scotti: journalist, writer and another top-class photographer. Scotti wrote, "To investigate the life of young people, the photographer chooses to move away from the register of the posed portrait, considering the language of reportage much more suitable. The photographer scratches out the faces of his subjects, denouncing the impossibility, de facto, of exploring youth made up of individuality. The result is the story of an age populated by prototypes: the needs imposed by practice and the norm are not limited to determining the evolution of the style of the narrative, but substantially change the perception of the world. In the depiction, youth becomes a universe for 'champions', behavioural archetypes, anonymous models of habits and everyday life".