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Giving Hope and a Place of Mourning: Pandemic Memorials

The Codogno memorial is not the first in Lombardy, one of the Italian regions the first to be affected by the coronavirus. Last August, the nearby town of Casalpusterlengo unveiled a memorial designed by Ottorino Buttarelli, a local artist, with stones stacked in a small tower, to represent deceased townspeople.

In an email exchange, Buttarelli said he involved the townspeople in the creation of the memorial. He asked them to go to the nearby Po River to collect stones for the structure, and many wrote the names of loved ones they had lost on them, sometimes adding personal messages or decorating them with stars and hearts.

“We realized the need and the urgency that people had to cry,” said Buttarelli. “The people of this village were left to die in solitude and silence, often without a funeral. Bringing the stone and writing the name became the funeral, ”he continued.

“Unfortunately, we are still adding names,” added Buttarelli.

While Italian memorials had an intimate and local character, in Britain there were also calls for more traditional monuments. Earlier this month, the Daily Mail, a conservative tabloid, launched a campaign for a statue to be erected in memory of Tom Moore, a veteran of the military, better known as “Captain Tom” , which has raised tens of millions of pounds for British health. service during the pandemic. He died of Covid-19 in February.

Jeremy Deller, a British artist who has designed several works of public art, said in a phone interview that it would be difficult to create a large central pandemic memorial: it doesn’t have clear icons, and just plain too many people have died to write all the names on one structure, like a war memorial.

His own proposal – which he created as a print and offered for sale in an effort to help struggling UK museums during the pandemic – was a huge golden statue of a pangolin. Scientists once thought that the virus may have passed from pangolins to humans (although many now reject this suggestion), and the fantastic monument could make people think about humanity’s relationship with animals, Deller said.

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