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Grade with honors.

In the photo, a detail from : ‘Sony World Photography Awards 2023’, Milan - ‘Museo Diocesano Carlo Maria Martini’.[1]



Our memory is not a storage at all, in fact a working laboratory which selects processes and produces reality, that is what most identifies each of us : and if it isn’t in order, the fantasies that emerge do not help or defend. Difficult is to correct one’s naivety which we struggle to recognize, for example the compulsion for revenge, an issue that is unfortunately still current and recurring, even in today’s Civilization.

The 16th Competition, established by regional law in 2008 in Lombardia (Italy) ‘for the affirmation of the values’ of the Exodus from Istria region[2], kept the students busy for this 2024 edition about ‘How the exiles faced the challenge of rebuilding their existence in Lombardia and in the world’[3] : unsuspected names as the chemist Fulvio Bracco, founder of the Company ‘Bracco Spa’ and Ottavio Missoni in the fashion industry, the songwriter Sergio Endrigo as well as others in their normal  professions, involved a work of investigation and discovery from students ranging in age from thirteen and seventeen years old, and their commendable teachers. Up to the peculiar testimony of a former child girl who in 1949 was six years old and ‘hadn’t had the time to learn to read yet’ : today a delightful eighty one year old lady, Marisa Brugna[4] conducted a short and well-attended speech on her own ‘refugeance’ together with the hundreds of thousands of families which, starting from 1945, left Istria and their own homes but – not to irritate the new occupants who settled there after the Armistice of 1943 – few at a time, as if it were a holiday from which they would come back, and so it was not. Because they had to start from scratch, very far from their homelands, after long and painful stays of luck in the various ‘Refugee Collection Centres’ scattered across Italy, often facing distrust even from Italians themselves.

Who will be your partner and who will be instead your boss ? That was the question in the minds of adults who suddenly became ‘refugees’ in that Exodus : a question immediately collected now by the awarded young people present last February 14, because the experience of one’s naivety is as burning as life’s worst wounds, often it doesn’t even make it to the news, resolved in a hostile ‘face to face’. The defense against naivety appears impervious, even obscure, above all surrounded by uncontainable and overwhelming emotions : listening to yourself talking is a work, and it makes school.


Marina Bilotta Membretti, Cernusco sul Naviglio 19 febbraio 2024



[1] ‘Sony World Photography Awards 2023’ is one of the most prestigious competitions in the world for contemporary photography (Milan, ‘Museo Diocesano Carlo Maria Martini’ July 3 – September 3, 2023). The free contest allows photographers from all the world to find support for their talent : in the four competitions of 2023 edition - Professional, Open, Student, Youth – more than 415.000 images participated from over 200 countries and territories.

[2] Before the Armistice of 1943 Istria was in Italy, but after the Armistice it became territory of the Federal Republic of Marshal Tito, now Croatia and Slovenia.


[3] Activity of ‘Regione Lombardia’, the 16th Edition of the Competition school year 2023-2024 “Le Foibe, la strage di Vergarolla ed il conseguente Esodo giuliano, fiumano e dalmata : come gli esuli hanno affrontato la sfida di ricostruire la propria esistenza in Lombardia e nel mondo”, rewarded on last February 14, into the ‘Sala Consiliare’ of Palazzo Pirelli in Milan, the selected works of the 145 students participating : I.T.E.P. ’Galileo Galilei’ - Laveno Mombello (VA) (novel); Liceo ‘Primo Levi’ - San Donato Milanese (MI) (video); Istituto Comprensivo ‘Alessandro Manzoni’ - Cologno Monzese (MI) (audiobook); Liceo Artistico ‘Giacomo e Pio Manzù’ - Bergamo (three videos awarded); Istituto comprensivo ‘San Paolo d’Argon’ - Cenate Sotto (BG) Scuola Secondaria I Grado ‘Enea Salmeggia’ (booklet : special mention in the competition); Liceo Statale ‘Novello’ - Codogno (LO) Scuola Secondaria II Grado (comic : special mention out of competition).


[4] Marisa Brugna, who today lives at Alghero (Sardinia) where she also has her family, testified her own ‘refugeance’ in the book ‘Memoria negata’ – Edizioni Condaghes Srl (2013) of which she is the author.

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