Giovanni Cocco

2012 - Ongoing


After a devastating earthquake on Apr 6 2009, the city of L’Aquila - historic city of central Italy - has witnessed a second, equally unexpected movement. Its entire population has been shifted, and exiled.

Taking advantage of a natural disaster, politics has staged an experiment of destruction not only of the fabric of the historical centre, but of its sociality, of its soul. It has incited, through deceptive promises, a temporary condition that has become, day by day, a permanent status. It has empted the hystoric city centre, leaving it to its fate, around which was built a "chain" of 19 satellite - cities: non-urban centres where there are not a bar, a newsstand, a square, a school, a church, a meeting place. New neighborhoods, called New Town, a conglomerate of wooden barracks reminiscent of an army camp, caught between old mountains and new strip malls. All those things have totally disjointed a community already weakened by the earthquake, depriving it of its right to the city.

What is left of a town that has lost its inhabitants? What about its Genius Loci?

I’ve been following the events to the town of L’Aquila for last eight years trying to respond to these questions, and understand how a community acknowledges itself under dire circumstances, discovering what it can achieve or what it can recover. I’ve been driven by the intention to represent, how the city can silently watch the dissolution of its identity.

The case of L'Aquila is emblematic, it allows us to extend the reasoning and make it universal, to know what it is happening to the actual concept of 'town'. The changes imposed by productive and market causes (like Venice, Berlin, Barcelona and many other cities) violate natural context and social space, until to humiliate democracy and the right to the city.

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