Illuminating Change: A Transformative Photography Exhibit in the Vatican

By Ali Aksu
June 12, 2024
A group photo at the Changes exhibition at the Vatican. Photo includes Council for Inclusive Capitalism member Ali Aksu and the Pope.

St. Peter’s Square recently hosted the photo exhibition “Changes,” a photographic interpretation of the “Song of Creatures” with a focus on contrasting the effects of climate change with the hope inspired by the beauty of God’s creation. Organized by the Dicastery for Communication in collaboration with the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, and the Laudato Si’ Higher Education Centre, the exhibition was curated by Lia and Marianna Beltrami as part of the “Emotions to Generate Change” project. It featured 24 photographs accompanied by excerpts from the Canticle of the Creatures of Saint Francis and references to Pope Francis’s Apostolic Exhortation “Laudate Deum.”

The shots selected and combined with St. Francis’ prayer present a contrast between the beauty and wonder of Creation and the destruction of climate change, both to our environment and to populations around the world. The exhibition’s title, “Changes,” refers to both the phenomenon of climate change and the need for individuals to change their perspectives and behaviours to mitigate its impacts. The photographs, mounted on supports crafted from wood recovered after the Vaia storm in the Autonomous Province of Trento, originate from various regions including Borneo, Bangladesh, Togo, Ethiopia, the Amazon, Florida, Greece, Italy, Iceland, Australia, and Turkey. The exhibition features the works of photographers such as Neşe Arı, Raffaele Merler, Giampaolo Calzà, Franco Giovanazzi, Vassilis Ikoutas, Asaf Ud Daula, Sebastiano Rossitto, Ferran Paredes Rubio, and Francesca Larrain.

As the executive producer, Untold commits to fostering impactful storytelling and advocacy for change via mass media. The company aims to empower more independent storytellers via new age funding and distribution solutions via its platform.

A Blessing from the Pope

On May 8, a momentous occasion unfolded as Pope Francis himself addressed the exhibit. In a poignant speech, he highlighted the exhibit’s significance in promoting global understanding and blessed the works displayed. This endorsement from the highest echelon of the Catholic Church underscored the exhibit’s profound impact, resonating with the themes of change and global unity.

A Confluence of Minds and Spirits

The exhibit’s journey commenced in the revered halls of the Academy of Sciences at the Vatican. Select guests and participating artists gathered for an opening discussion, setting the tone for an event that would transcend traditional art showcases. It was an honour to speak about the power of storytelling in addressing global grand challenges and empowering the middle-class economy in the creator industry. In a world grappling with myriad issues, storytelling stands as a beacon of hope, a catalyst for change, and a bridge connecting diverse voices and perspectives.

Lia Beltrami: The Visionary Artist

At the heart of “Changes” is the visionary artist Lia Beltrami. Her evocative photographs capture the essence of transformation, urging viewers to reflect on their roles in fostering a better world. Beltrami’s work is a testament to the potential of art to ignite conversations, inspire action, and foster a collective sense of responsibility.

An Evening of Reflection and Connection

Following the opening discussion, attendees were treated to a cocktail reception hosted by Beltrami herself. The evening was not just a celebration of art, but a convergence of minds dedicated to creating meaningful change. Conversations flowed, ideas sparked, and connections formed, all within the hallowed grounds of the Vatican.

Guardians of The Rainforest: A Film with Impact

The day after our memorable meeting with the Pope, we gathered to view the impact documentary “Guardians of The Rainforest.” This powerful film resonated deeply with all who attended, showcasing the urgent need to protect our planet’s precious ecosystems. It was a poignant reminder of the interconnectedness of our global challenges and the critical role of storytelling in advocating for change.

Untold: Championing Impact-Driven Filmmaking

As the executive producer and representative of Untold, I am immensely proud of our role in supporting impact driven independent artists. Untold is not just a company; it is a movement for an inclusive creator economy. Our belief in the power of storytelling fuels our mission to advocate for change and amplify voices that might otherwise go unheard. Untold aims to build a robust community of impact investors who care about seeding change and impact producers who combine storytelling to shift the culture.

A Call to Action

“Changes” is more than an exhibit; it is a call to action. It challenges us to look beyond our immediate surroundings and consider the broader implications of our actions. It reminds us that through storytelling, we can illuminate truths, inspire hope, and drive collective efforts toward a more just and equitable world.

As visitors continue to experience the exhibit throughout May, I am filled with a sense of hope and anticipation. The conversations sparked within St. Peter’s Square will undoubtedly ripple outward, inspiring change-makers, artists, and everyday individuals to take up the mantle of storytelling in their own unique ways. In a world constantly evolving, it is through these stories that we will navigate the changes and emerge stronger, together.

This exhibit and the events surrounding it have been a testament to the transformative power of art and storytelling. As we move forward, Untold remains committed to supporting and championing projects that have the potential to create lasting impact. Together, we will continue to harness the power of stories to shape a better, more compassionate world.

Click here to visit the virtual “Changes” exhibition.


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