Everybody Talks About the Weather, exhibition view, Fondazione Prada, Venice, 2023.
Photo: Marco Cappelletti, courtesy of Fondazione Prada, Venice
In May 2023, heavy rainfall caused devastating floods in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy. Over fifty thousand people were displaced and fifteen died as the worst floods in a hundred years caused €10 billion worth of damage to buildings, infrastructure, farms, and agricultural businesses. Over twenty-three rivers overflowed, submerging forty-one cities and towns—including Bologna, Forli, Cesena, and Ravenna—and many other communities in thick, grey mud. The exhibition Everybody Talks About the Weather, curated by Dieter Roelstraete for the Fondazione Prada in Venice, opened on May 20, as Italian TV channels and newspapers were incessantly documenting the extent of the catastrophic event. A startling coincidence—or an unavoidable contingency, given the frequency with which these events now occur—everyone was indeed talking about the weather, and nothing else, for days.

Was it an indisputable sign of climate change—the type of extreme weather phenomena that more frequently than ever before mark the passing of each season? Or, as some have argued, the result of governmental negligence—the missed routine maintenance of riverbanks and related infrastructures? Or both?

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