LA â€œCITTÃ€ PIÃ™ CITTÃ€ Dâ€™ITALIAâ€ E Lâ€™ESPOSIZIONE DEL 1881
AbstractConsidered within the long process through which Milan has become a â€œcity of exhibitionsâ€, the â€œMostra nazionale delle Arti e dellâ€™Industriaâ€ 1881 is of crucial relevance. On that occasion, twenty years after the countryâ€™s unification, the roaring Excelsior Ball in the background, Milan displayed its self-portrait in the pavilions under the motto â€œLabor vincit omniaâ€, standing as â€œmoral capital of Italyâ€. Such an ambitious project relied on a series of volumes â€“ Mediolanum (Vallardi), Milano 1881 (Ottino), Milano e i suoi dintorni (Civelli), â€“ offering the radiant image of a close and hard-working community. In this perspective, such a close collaboration between the ruling class and Milan-based intellectuals during the exhibition represented a model: promoted by a state-of-the-art publishing industry, the initiative fostered a synergy between the educated members of society, be them Milan-born or adoptive, who gathered in institutional venues as well as within the â€œrepubblica della carta sporcaâ€. Writers and journalists, engineers and economists, technicians and scientists, engravers and artists were all committed to sketch the portrait of the â€œcittÃ piÃ¹ cittÃ dâ€™Italiaâ€ (Verga). They all stood on the common ground provided by a sound value system, never giving way to bombastic statements, and by the shared interests of a modern civil society: a common ground made firmer by the Enlightenment and Romantic tradition and a Smilesian confidence in positivist culture. Milanâ€™s hard-working ethics is well summarized in the slogans of Milanese pride: initiative, inter-class solidarity, lay tolerance and charitable philanthropy; a strong tie to â€œcose serie, cose sodeâ€; an idea of progress meant as cautious evolution; the promotion of a wide-ranging knowledge able to combine the humanities with â€œutili cognizioniâ€, strongly suspicious of any kind of abstraction. Common sense, intended as the combination of balance and integrity, was considered as the rule of daily life, while the public sphere was governed by an efficient local government priding itself on being miles away from the idle talk of the political capital. Recovering Cattaneoâ€™s motto - â€œconvertire il mondo moderno in mondo nostroâ€ - the â€œmoral capitalâ€ rose to the challenge of industrial progress within the European context, against any form of short-sighted and regressive entrenchment.
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