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Tonfano Bronzes - Fonderia d'Arte Massimo Del Chiaro - 5 January 2023

Photography and editing by Gabriele Tizzani and Katia Corfini
Music by Katia Corfini

The Tonfano bronzes are reborn from the sea, documented by images taken by Gabriele Tizzani and Katia Corfini, members of the GoVersilia Group. In 2022, the Riace Bronzes celebrated fifty years since their discovery and last summer, two original bronze statues made by the Fonderia d’Arte Massimo Del Chiaro art foundry, with the patronage of the Municipality of Pietrasanta and the Tuscany Region, were placed in the sea of Marina di Pietrasanta. Such a birth couldn’t be without an exceptional godfather, Professor Vittorio Sgarbi and the presence of the Viareggio Port Authority and its commander, Frigate Captain Alessandro Russo. Pseudo-copies are an interesting experiment. Because they stimulate knowledge. Tizzani, the diver who did the filming, believes it was a good idea to put them in the sea, and, in particular, in shallow water available to one and all. That placement allows them to be visible not only to those wearing a diving mask, but also to those who, with calm seas, stroll on the pier just above them. The impression is one of browsing in a museum-garden, observing a history crystallized in time or reading the “Stories” told by Herodotus of Halicarnassus in the fifth century BC while comfortably seated on a bench. Those stories that emerge from the bottom of the sea in the sand as if in memories. If there is one thing that ancient Greece has handed down to the Italic people, it is democracy. Of course, no system is perfect and that was true in the past as it is today. But “démos” the people, that is, everyone, can really see, without distinction, the works until 30 September 2023, or until the sand becomes a blanket to cover them on their long sleep. Thus is the experiment of the Bronzes in the waters of Tonfano, one that is not perfect, but one that is surely an interesting beginning. The two bronzes have been anchored supine to a sandy bottom with concrete blocks and after about five months they became semi-submerged in the sand. The “North” Bronze, the one going toward La Spezia, is almost completely buried due to the storms and, given the extraordinarily good weather that lasted until the end of November, the current situation is to be considered the best possible. To date, the sinking is estimated at about one metre from the diver. The other Bronze, the “South” one, or the one going toward Viareggio, appears to lie with his back directly on the sand. The sinking for the South Bronze is to be estimated at about seventy centimetres. Interesting to note is the steel plate upon which the feet of the bronzes rest, which is totally out of the sand and inside a hole dug by the undertow. The plate, just like the eyes, are covered with barnacles due to their copper-free composition. On the bodies of the bronze statues, which are composed of at least 70% copper, there are colonies of tube annelids that are evidently less sensitive to the toxicity of the copper. The diver estimates that in the next three months the statues will most likely be entirely buried and points out that a placement on poles fixed in the sand instead of concrete blocks would have prevented them sinking for an extended period of time (Venezia docet). Indeed, the poles, as in the case of the plate, offer a current of excavation of the undertow, due to the waves, which slows down the silting process. But at sea, it is the sea that decides, and the variables are many. Some humans have been granted a great deal, such as the creation of beauty. But there is always something unconsidered in human thought, something beyond its control, its prediction. Perhaps for this reason, at the end of September 2023, when the organisers have decided to bring the bronzes back to the surface, there will be a need for a dredge hose to extract these two wonderful statues from the sand. What matters is that something has been done to try to awaken the human soul from what today is considered the oblivion of the future: ignorance. The video that is making the rounds on social media is a 3-minute sequence shot that seeks to tell the story of how the diver was able to appreciate these pseudo-Riace bronzes. These are not copies, they are similar to the originals of the fifth century BC both in shape and size, but also different in many details. This is not a film in the Indiana Jones saga. This is one of those occasions in which we come to understand that the human being has not only had the gift of the ability to recognise beauty, but also to create it in his image and likeness. This is the human ability to approach the ethereal. “Being in front of statues semi-immersed in the sand and colonised by barnacles and tube annelids was like stopping time,” says Tizzani, the diver who filmed the sequence shot. Certainly, it is not comparable to what Mariottini saw in 1972 when, in the sea of Riace, the original bronzes emerged from the sand, but it is still a feast for the eyes.

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