The theme chosen for the works of the 2021 edition of Jesolo Sand Nativity is "The Sand of Miracles". A sculptural path that recounts the miracles of Jesus as an invitation to reflect on the meaning of salvation.
The church of the Redentore and the basilica dedicated to the Madonna della Salute in Venice are just two examples that testify to the profound link between faith and the hope of salvation and healing.
In Rome, Pope Francis went to the church of San Marcello al Corso where a crucifix was kept which in 1521 was carried through the streets of the city during the plague. And according to the chronicles of the time, the epidemic ceased when the crucifix arrived in St. Peter's Square. For this reason, the Holy Father brought the sacred artifact to the basilica, exhibiting it during the prayer for the end of the pandemic.
The Sand Sculptures
Healing of the paralytic of Capernaum – Helena Bangert
Mark 2, 10-12
Now, so that you know that the Son of man has the power to forgive sins on earth, I say to you - he said to the paralytic -: "Get up, take your stretcher and go to your house". He got up and immediately took his stretcher, walked away under the eyes of all, and everyone was amazed and praised God, saying: "We have never seen anything like it!"
This story is represented by the sculptor with extreme simplicity. In the foreground on the left, the figure of Jesus shows the moment of the miracle with an eloquent gesture. The paralytic at Christ's feet looks at him in disbelief, like the crowd that looks out the window. The expressions of amazement on the face of the crowd and the gestures of their hands demonstrate the artist's ability to express the emotions in the figures she represents. It is precisely on these emotions of amazement and disbelief that the composition is based: the rectangle of the window, placed in the center of the large sculpture, acts as a focal node towards which the viewer's gaze is attracted.
Healing of a blind man – Pedro Mira
Mark 10, 46-52
And they came to Jericho. And while he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a large crowd, the son of Timèo, Bartimaeus, blind, was sitting by the road begging. When he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was there, he began to cry out and say: "Son of David, Jesus, have mercy on me!". Many scolded him to silence him, but he cried out louder: "Son of David, have mercy on me!" Then Jesus stopped and said: «Call him!». […] Then Jesus said to him: «What do you want me to do for you?». And the blind man to him: "Rabbi, may I have my sight back!" And Jesus said to him: "Go, your faith has saved you." And immediately he regained his sight and began to follow him along the road.
The scene, represented at the gates of Jericho, as can be seen from the thick walls that frame the composition, sees Jesus at the center of the work in the act of healing the young boy. In the background, wedged between the architecture, the crowd together with the disciples watch the scene. In this work, the perspective value is greatly emphasized, accentuating it through the use of the masses that make up the lateral parts of the composition. In this way, a very deep spatial illusion is created despite having the limited size of the sand block available.
Healing of a leper – Hanneke Supply
Mark 10, 40-45
Then a leper came to him: he begged him on his knees and said to him: "If you want, you can heal me!" He moved to compassion, stretched out his hand, touched him and said: "I want it, get well!" Immediately the leprosy disappeared and he was cured. And, severely admonishing him, he sent him back and said: «Be careful not to tell anyone anything […]». But he, having gone away, began to proclaim and divulge the fact, to the point that Jesus could no longer publicly enter a city, but stayed outside, in deserted places, and they came to him from all over.
The episode of the healing of the leper is represented by the Dutch artist by placing the sick person in the foreground in search of help. The body covered with bandages reveals the advanced stage of the disease and the desperate face of the character denotes the suffering that he is destined to endure. His arm is stretched out towards the figure of Christ to ask for help. Jesus, framed by a stone arch, turns his miraculous gesture towards the suffering.
Jesus heals a deaf-mute man – Peter Busch-Jensen
Mark 7, 31-37
Returning from the region of Tire, he passed through Sidon, heading towards the Sea of Galilee in the full territory of the Decapolis. And they brought a deaf-mute to him, begging him to lay his hand on him. And taking him aside away from the crowd, he put his fingers in his ears and touched his tongue with the saliva; then looking towards the sky, he let out a sigh and said: "Effatà" that is: "Open up!". And immediately his ears were opened, he untied the knot of his tongue and spoke correctly. And he commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he recommended him, the more they talked about him and, full of astonishment, they said: «He has done everything well; he makes the deaf hear and the mute speak! ».
As the story of this miracle narrates, it takes place far from the crowd, in the sole presence of Jesus, the poor deaf-mute and his companions. The eloquence of the gesture performed by Jesus is enough to give the whole meaning to the work. With a single touch he heals the poor sick man kneeling at his feet. Also in the background of this work we find architectural elements, large columns and an arched opening that frame the figure of Christ.
Healing of Simone's mother-in-law – Enguerrand David
Mark 1, 29-34
And, having left the synagogue, they immediately went to the house of Simon and Andrew, in the company of James and John. Simone's mother-in-law was in bed with her fever and they immediately told him about her. He went up to her and lifted her up, taking her by the hand; the fever left her and she began to serve them. When evening came, after sunset, they brought him all the sick and possessed. The whole city was gathered in front of the door. He healed many who were afflicted with various diseases and cast out many demons; but he did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew him.
Many figures crowd this scene: Simone's elderly mother-in-law is surrounded by her loved ones who lovingly assist her. Jesus, portrayed the moment he touches the woman's hand, stands out for its grandeur among the characters. The mastery of the artist in working the drapery is striking in the entire scene. The softness of the clothes, the folds that are formed in the fabrics, the delicacy of the sheet that covers the woman's bed, everything is expertly worked by the sculptor who seems to have deliberately filled his composition with fabrics and fabrics, as if to underline the particular technicality of this detail.
Healing of the bleeding woman – Jakub Zimacek
Mark 5, 27-34
Heard of Jesus, he came into the crowd behind him and touched his cloak. In fact, he said: "If I can even touch his cloak, I will be healed." And immediately her blood flow stopped, and she felt in her body that she had been healed of that ailment. But immediately Jesus, sensing the power that had come out of him, turned to the crowd saying: "Who touched my cloak?". […] And the frightened and trembling woman, knowing what had happened to her, she came to her, threw herself in front of her and told him the whole truth. Jesus replied: «Daughter, your faith has saved you. She goes in peace and be healed of your illness ".
The viewer's eye is immediately attracted to the protagonist of the scene: the sick woman, the only figure on the ground in the middle of a dense crowd of upright figures, stands out in the composition of the work. All her eyes are turned to her, who thanks to her faith and determination was able to obtain healing. The garment of Jesus, the means by which the miracle took place, is at the center of the work and is enhanced in the soft and clean curves compared to the garments worn by people close to him. In the background you can glimpse an arched architectural feature that guides the viewer's eye towards an ideal vanishing point.
Jesus heals a servant's ear – Radovan Zivny
Luke 22, 47-53
While he was still speaking, a crowd came; he who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, preceded them and approached Jesus to kiss him. Jesus said to him: "Judas, are you betraying the Son of man with a kiss?" Then those who were with him, seeing what was about to happen, said, "Lord, must we strike with the sword?" And one of them struck the high priest's servant and cut off his right ear. But Jesus intervened saying: «Leave! That's enough!". And, touching his ear, he healed him.
Then Jesus said to those who had come against him, chief priests, chiefs of the temple guards and elders: “As if you were a thief you came with swords and clubs. Every day I was with you in the temple and you never got your hands on me; but this is your hour and the power of darkness".
The artist has chosen to represent this miraculous episode by highlighting only the protagonists of the scene. The background, left completely smooth, makes the healing gesture stand out in the center of the composition. The dimensional scale of the figures further emphasizes the gesture performed by Jesus, who, at the same time as the healing, takes care of admonishing the torturers.
Jesus heals the servant of a Centurion – Michela Ciappini
When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came to meet him and implored him: "Lord, my servant lies paralyzed in the house and is suffering terribly." Jesus answered him, "I will come and heal him." But the centurion continued: "Lord, I am not worthy for you to come under my roof, just say the word and my servant will be healed. Because I too, who am a subordinate, have soldiers under me and I say to one: Go, and he goes; and to another: Come, and he comes; and to my servant: Do this, and he does it. "
Upon hearing this, Jesus was amazed and said to those who followed him: "Truly I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such great faith. Now I tell you that many will come from east and west and will sit at table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the children of the kingdom will be cast out into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. " And Jesus said to the centurion: "Go, and let it be done according to your faith". In that instant the servant was healed.
The artist has chosen to focus not on the moment of healing, as is the case for the other works in the exhibition, but on the centurion's request, his act of faith which then leads to the healing of his servant. The patient can be glimpsed on the right side of the sculpture, but remains in the background. Instead, the importance of the figure of the centurion stands out, whose faith is the true protagonist of the episode. The figures, on an absolutely simple and clean background, radiate imposing rays of light that illuminate the scene.
Healing of a possessed man – Charlotte Koster
Mark 5, 3-13
He had his abode in the tombs and no one could keep him bound even with chains, because he had been bound several times with fetters and chains, but he had always broken the chains and shattered the fetters, and no one could tame him anymore. Continuously, night and day, among the tombs and on the mountains, he shouted and beat himself with stones. Seeing Jesus from afar, he ran, threw himself at his feet, and shouting with a loud voice he said: «What do you have in common with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beseech you, in the name of God, do not torment me! ». In fact, he said to him: "Get out of this man, unclean spirit!". And he asked him: "What is your name?" "My name is Legion, he answered him, because we are many." And he began to implore him with insistence so that he would not drive him out of that region.
Now there was a large herd of pigs grazing there on the mountain. And the spirits implored him: "Send us to those pigs, so that we may enter them." He let her. And the unclean spirits went out and entered the swine, and the herd rushed from the ravine into the sea; there were about two thousand and they drowned one after the other in the sea.
This story certainly appears to be the one that leaves the artist greater freedom of interpretation. Figuratively very rich in details, the work sees Jesus in the foreground in the act of freeing the possessed man who is therefore represented surrounded by many small demons who, together with the grazing pigs which they will then take possession of, surround him giving a sense of strong movement to the whole right side of the large sculpted block. The contrast between the two sections of the work is clearly evident: while the left side strikes for the tranquility and composure of the figure and the background, the right side strikes for the dynamism that is created thanks to this swirling flight of small figures possessed.
Resurrection of Lazarus – Ilya Filimontsev
John 11, 38-44
Meanwhile, Jesus, still deeply moved, went to the tomb; it was a cave and a stone was placed against it. Jesus said: "Remove the stone!" Martha, the sister of the dead man, answered him: "Lord, it already smells bad, since it is four days old." She said to her, "Didn't I tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?" So they removed the stone. Jesus then raised his eyes and said: «Father, I thank you that you have listened to me. […] ». And having said this, he cried out in a loud voice: "Lazarus, come out!" The dead man came out, with his feet and hands wrapped in bandages, and his face covered with a shroud. Jesus said to them, "Untie him and let him go."
The most significant episode among the healing miracles is the Resurrection of Lazarus and was deliberately inserted at the end of the exhibition as a way to conclude the story developed for this 2021 edition of Sand Nativity. The great work of the Russian master Ilya Filimontsev appears imposing in his figures. In the background, the rocks of the tomb frame the miraculous gesture, emphasized by symbolic rays of light that underline the mystical event. The women watch the scene and show with their looks the immense faith they place in him.
Luke 2, 6-7 e 11-14
Now, while they were in that place, the days of childbirth were fulfilled for her. She gave birth to her firstborn son, wrapped him in swaddling clothes and placed him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.
“Today a savior was born to you in the city of David, who is Christ the Lord”. And immediately a multitude of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace to the men he loves".
In this new location, the work dedicated to the Nativity is the largest sand sculpture ever made in the history of Sand Nativity. The work measures 10 meters in width but nevertheless manages to convey all the intimacy and concentration typical of this tender family scene.
It was created by a group of 3 artists whose mastery is able to blend in a homogeneous way, creating a composition of great emotional impact. The simplicity and elegance of the neutral background help to emphasize the Holy Family from which a light of peace and hope seems to radiate that spreads all around.
Tribute to Healthcare Workers – Baldrick Richard Buckle
The sculpture that ideally ends the path outlined for this edition of Sand Nativity, was specially designed as a tribute to all the people who have committed themselves, with their knowledge, skills and abilities, in this difficult period of fighting the pandemic.
This great work in sand is dedicated to healthcare workers, frontline workers and all the people involved in supporting the sick, which we hope will invoke a feeling of gratitude that they deserve from all of us.