in fourth person

Filippo Menichetti Martin Errichiello

2015 - 2016

Calabria, Italy

Since the 60’s, in the midst of the so-called economic miracle, Italy’s cultural and political powers established an extensive, radical process of transformation of territories and traditions, in the name of a progress to be fed with new roads, new industries and definitely a new identity. The southern Calabria region, case-study of our visual exploration, is a mythic land where the challenge of modernity has imposed its language and aesthetics, slowly oppressing its human and natural landscape. Memory – the political act of practicing memory – on the other hand represents a powerful medium for people to recall lost belongings and to reclaim what has been stolen. Driven by this belief, for two years we traveled through the region - and through our History - collecting traces of what went lost, or forgotten. In Fourth Person became thus a collective space for our unanswered questions, suspended between utopia and betrayals.

Indeed, what do we remember and what do we know about our recent history? Are history and memory included in a political program? What happens when such tools overlap with one another, sold out and twisted to the demagogy of an election campaign?

Social consciousness is hereby seduced and threatened over time by a distorted sense of identity. As a result, integrity is never guaranteed. And so the culture, the environment, the landscape, its natural and artificial architecture appears wounded, and along with it the men who should take care of it.

And those men are nothing but us.

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  • Built in the half of 1970s, the Metramo’s dam was supposed to bring water to the fifth Italian steel mill. The factory was never built, and the dam remain unused ever since. It was included in the so called “Colombo’s package”, from the name of the Italian Prime Minster by that time: an “emergency” assets adopted to bring industries and employments in the Calabria region, the poorest one in the country. About 700 millions euros were spent but none of the facilities ever went into use, and still today their remains lie idle in the landscape.

  • The arm of Ibrahim, seasonal worker from Senegal. The Gioia Tauro’s plain is one of the region’s biggest area for the cultivation of citric fruits, the first export of southern Italy; here, agriculture and fruit cultivation have been the primary sustainment for centuries. Peasants worked the land, and the land gave back its richest bounties. Industrialization broke this cycle, causing instead a huge emigration from the region. Today, fields are harvested by seasonal workers, mainly coming from West African countries. The city of Rosarno, few kilometers away from Gioia Tauro, hosts one of the biggest camps in South Italy, where almost one thousand-four-hundred workers survive as day laborers.

  • Leftovers of a detonating cord are burned after a controlled demolition.

  • Controlled demolition of a section of the viaduct “Italia”, in the river Lao valley, in the province of Cosenza. On the 2nd of March 2015, a section of the bridge, flagship of national engineering of the 60’s, collapsed during its demolition’s preliminary works, killing Adrian Miholca, a 25 years old worker from Romania. One year later, in March 2016, the process of “modernization” of the highway started again.

  • A “Ficus Magnolioides” tree on the seaside of Reggio Calabria, few steps away from the only memorial plaque of the so-called “Reggio uprising”. On July 5, 1970 the mayor of the city, Piero Battaglia, gathered 7000 people in Piazza Duomo, asking them “to be ready in supporting the right of Reggio at the helm of the Region”. On June 7, just a month earlier, the Italian government
    moved the regional administrative center from Reggio Calabria to Catanzaro causing further outrage to the population, whose city was already facing an extremely severe economic and political condition. The whole city rose up, starting one of the longest urban revolts in the last forty years of European history. It lasted almost two years and, for the first time, the army was deployed to contain the situation. Six people died during the clashes, and hundreds injured. The revolt started as a transversal demonstration, including all political colors and social layers, but soon the right wing took over, depicting the whole period as a new-fascists revolt. Still today, in the collective memory, it represents a very controversial argument.

  • This stratigraphy, brought to light by the Italian archaeologist Fabio Martini during the last fifteen years, shows multiple layers of soil indicating climatic, geological and human evolution between 24,000 and 11,000 b.c. This dig is part of a larger archeological site located in the river Lao valley; the Romito’s Caves.

  • The last stretch of the A3 highway, cutting through the old fishermen district of “Archi”, on the edge of the city of Reggio Calabria.

  • A shepherd grazes his herd in the industrial area behind the Gioia Tauro harbor, where once the farmers’ village of Eranova used to be before its demolition.

  • In the river Lao valley, a few kilometers away from the viaduct “Italia”, can be found one of the most important archeological sites in Europe. Discovered in 1961 by the archeologist Paolo Rossi, the Romito’s Cave houses relevant finds of the paleolithic, among which the perfect inscription of an “Uro”, a prehistorical bull. It is told, actually, that the origin of the name “Italia” comes from the Oscan word “vìteliù”, meaning “land of young cattles”, and it was referred to the actual region of Calabria. The bull was indeed an important symbol for the southern italic tribes, and was often depicted goring the Roman wolf as a defiant symbol of free Italy during the Social War (91-88 B.C.).

  • Piazza del Popolo, Reggio Calabria.

  • A rock in the gulf of Palmi, a seaside village on the southern Calabrian coast.

  • A touristic map showing the city of Reggio Calabria.

  • Image of clashes in Reggio Calabria taken from the Italian magazine “Annali d’Italia”, 1971.

  • Traces of hands in the abandoned factory “Ex Opera Sila”, occupied in 2009 by the african seasonal workers of Rosarno and from whence the so-called “oranges' revolt” started.

  • Portrait of a worker in a factory behind the Gioia Tauro’s harbor.

  • Literally, Eranova means “a new era”. With this name, in 1896 was founded and built this tiny community of local day laborers who wanted to rebel against the hard working conditions imposed by the nobles who, still at that time, owned the lands. At the end of the 1970s, not even after a century of life, the whole village of Eranova was evacuated and destroyed, to make room for the fifth Italian steel mill: 200 families were displaced, 70.000 trees were razed to the ground but eventually no factory was never built.
    These are some of the family pictures - besides recordings, videos and documents - we collected from the former inhabitants of Eranova. The composition includes the very first and last image of the short but meaningful existence of this village: a group shot, taken around 1904, and the image of a church, the very last building to be demolished.

  • Original documents and operating manuals found inside the Ex Liquichimica of Saline Joniche, a former natural reserve not far from Reggio Calabria. At the beginning of the 1970’s it became an industrial complex, included in the so called “Colombo Package”: a special fund released by the Italian government to increase the region industrial system and to create new job opportunities.
    In 1973, only two days after its opening, the National Institute of Health declared the closure of the plant, due to the carcinogenic components found in the animal feed that the factory should have produced. Immediately the employees were put on layoff and so they remained, for other 23 years. After almost 40 years the natural ecosystem of Saline Joniche is now reacting to the devastation brought by the man. In 2015, in the pounds near the complex, the entomologist Francesco Manti made a peculiar discover: he observed the presence of the breeding nest of a butterfly, the African Monarch (Danaus chrysippus chrysippus), a migratory species rarely seen in Europe before.

    Video stills taken from Youtube showing kids diving from the abandoned harbor of Saline Joniche factory.

  • On the right: series of archival pictures taken during the Reggio uprising.
    On the left: excerpt of the confidential reports of the British Intelligence on the Reggio uprising. In those years of protests across Europe and the world, England used to keep a close watch on Italian politics to prevent possible new communists outbreaks.