"Broken cities. A virtual journey from Syria to Iraq" on Lugano campus


Institutional Communication Service

16 September 2019

After the first stop at the Palazzo dei Congressi in Lugano during the MEM Summer Summit on 24 and 25 August 2019, the exhibition "Broken Cities" is open to the USI academic community on Lugano campus. USI wanted to dedicate this exhibition to four cities run to the ground by conflict: Damascus, Aleppo, Palmyra and Mosul. The exhibition on the Lugano campus is divided into two parts: photographic, always open in the Aula magna, and an immersive camera with virtual reality with set visiting times and dates. Entry is free.

The exhibition Broken cities. A virtual journey from Syria to Iraq proposed an imaginary route to four cities laid waste by conflicts whose violence has over recent years turned them into theatres of war. Pictures of Damascus, Aleppo, Palmyra, and Mosul told their story, a fragmentary story, of this devastation. The landscape of ruins, in Marc Augé’s words, “cannot reproduce the past in its integrity; rather, it alludes intellectually to a multiplicity of ‘pasts’, somehow metonymically, it supplies our eye and our conscience with a dual proof of a lost functionality and an impressive actuality” (Marc Augé, 2003).

Lines from T.S. Eliot’s poem The Waste Land (1922) and others from The Suspended Ode by Imru’ al-Qays (6th century), invited the viewer to a moment of silence, stillness, and meditation, outside time. The exhibition layout is structured in two stages. Stage one displays photographs by Iconem, a French start-up. Interspersed with literary quotations, these photographs reveal unusual views of the cities and invite the viewers to raise questions about the rubble, the ruins and the meaning of time. It is in the eye of the beholder that the fragments will come to life and take on meaning. The pictures show piles of rubble: wreckage present of ruins past. Stage two consists essentially in an immersive cam, the work of e-REAL Logosnet, whereby visitors are able to watch videos produced by Iconem and by Unesco. With extremely striking images, this all-absorbing experience engulfs the eye of the visitors, who find themselves suspended between past and present, here and there, destruction and reconstruction.


Days and opening hours of the immeresive cam

  • 12 September 1 pm–2 pm
  • 16 September 09 am–10.30 am and 6 pm–7 pm
  • 19 September 12 pm–1.30 pm
  • 24 September 12 pm–1.30 pm