Saturday, April 16, 2016

MOSE as Art and as Mirage

The backdrop of white fluffy clouds in this image taken two days ago are in sharp contrast to the dark clouds that have figuratively hung over MOSE since its inception
Though the threat to Venice is from too much water rather than the complete absence of it, when it comes to the giant flood gates known by the acronym MOSE in Italian it seems to me the city is stuck in a long fruitless trudge through a hopeless desert, its eyes fixed upon a vision of salvation that forever recedes, mirage-like, before it.

Originally scheduled to be operational by 2012, the functioning date is forever being bumped a little further into the future. The last I heard it was 2017--which strikes the perfect balance being close enough to encourage some hope and distant enough to allow ample time to target yet another slightly more distant deadline as the former one approaches.

But then the other day I happened upon a piece on Venice in the Financial Times that referred to an operational date of 2020! Considering that the journalist--and I use that term in its loosest sense--got a number of other basic facts about the city wrong, perhaps it shouldn't be taken seriously. Or maybe in getting it wrong the writer actually got it right, as we do seem to be approaching close enough to 2017 that it's time for the relevant authorities to push back the date again.

In any case, after going to put some gas in our small boat two days ago I was struck by the sight of one of the giant flood gates near the lagoon-side dock of the Arsenale. Last year gates like this had inspired a round of dark, despairing mirth when local papers reported that once installed in their places in the mouths of the Lidi they were rusting far more quickly than ever imagined by the crack team of engineers assembled by the Consorzio Venezia Nuova, the conglomerate of Italian construction firms that without any competition had been handed the multi-billion euro project--and which, to absolutely no one's surprise (see, for example, the 4th- and 5th-to-last paragraphs in this 2008 piece), have in the last couple of years been found guilty of extensive corruption and fraud. Local papers pilloried the Consorzio for only having just discovered that there was salt in seawater.

Perhaps the gate above was a replacement for one already so far gone with corrosion as to need replacement? Whatever the reason, there it was on display, as utterly useless to this point in time as the most decadent of any old "Art-for-Art's-Sake" enthusiast could ever demand that a work of art be: more massive and more massively expensive than anything ever displayed nearby at that great International Art Show of the wheeling-dealing 1% called the Venice Biennale.      

This cropped image shows the depth scale in meters on the gate's side

No comments:

Post a Comment