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A photo exhibition by Giovanni Fontana Antonelli

Curated by Daniela Tartaglia

17-18-19 June 2021

The photo exhibition “Mosul, faraway so close” is the result of a photographic campaign that was undertaken in February 2018 in Mosul, few days after the re-opening of the Old City to its residents, and few months after the liberation from ISIL/Da’esh in July 2017.

This photographic work was supported by remote sensing and mapping using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) surveying to carry out the first damage assessment in the Old City of Mosul.

The archaeological and religious heritage was deliberately damaged or demolished by ISIL/Daesh during a three-year occupation (2014-17), while 40 percent the historic urban fabric has been severely affected by the military operations to liberate the city. Ca. 550 historic buildings were destroyed, about 5,000 structures were damaged.

The full digital documentation of the 250 ha. of Mosul’s historic urban fabric is key to develop the cultural heritage post-conflict recovery and reconstruction.

An open-source GIS platform incorporating all data acquired through aerial and ground survey was also developed.

A 3 cm/dpi orthophoto was produced, along with a 3D model of the historic town.

The combined use of the two imagery was essential for the team of experts to analyze the urban form, assess the damage and plan its restoration and reconstruction.

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Giovanni Fontana Antonelli holds a Master’s Degree in Architecture from the University of Florence. He is a world experienced architect and heritage expert who started his international career in 1998 as UNESCO Associate Expert in Southern Africa. He gained his extensive experience from serving the United Nations for more than 20 years in Africa, Europe and the Arab Region. As UNESCO Chief of Culture Sector in Palestine, where he served for a decade (2003-2012), he developed a sound knowledge of the Arab culture and its intercultural issues. During this period his work focused on conservation and advocacy planning for the protection of historic resources in Palestine, i.e. the cultural landscape of Battir, awarded the “Melina Mercouri International Prize” in 2011.

In 2017, he co-founded Archi.Media Trust, an agency specialized in cultural development such as safeguarding tangible and intangible cultural heritage, developing skills and capacities, promoting education through arts and exhibitions, and addressing the humanitarian-development link. From mid 2017 to mid 2019, in the framework of the UNESCO’s initiative “Revive the Spirit of Mosul”, he coordinated the programme for the restoration and reconstruction of the Mosul Old City.

Nominated for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2013 and 2016, he is author of more than sixty scientific papers and co-editor of the two-volume publication “Bethlehem Area Conservation and Management Plan” (Paris: 2012) and the photographic book “The Land That Remains” (Berlin: 2016).

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