2019 - Ongoing
Venice, Veneto, Italy
On the night of the 12th of November 2019, Venice faced one of the most severe floods of its millennial history. The tide reached 187 centimeters, making it the second highest after the infamous “Acqua Granda” of 1966. More than 85% of the city was submerged, including the Saint Mark basilica, with overall damages estimated at €1bn.
The following morning, mayor Luigi Brugnaro declared a state of emergency and tweeted: “These are the effects of climate change”.
His opinion is echoed by dozens of academic studies that show the connection between global warming, the rise of sea waters, and the progressive “sinking” of Venice. According to US non-profit organization Climate Central, Venice will be the first city that will end up underwater by 2050. Unfortunately, some of the threats that the city is facing are even more pressing and multifaceted.
The increase in water temperature, for example, is causing fishes to return from the sea to the lagoon earlier than usual. This is worrying for the fishermen, as it means that the “moeche” (the local crabs) are stripping themselves of the carapace earlier.
Another issue is soil erosion. From 1950 to 1970, the average lowering of the soil was about 12 centimeters due to the extraction of water for industrial uses. Recently, the damage has increased due to the passage of hundreds of cruise ships every year, which further erode shores and canals bottoms.
One way to protect the city from the high tide would be to activate the Mose, a multi billion-euros, highly controversial infrastructure whose construction was approved in the 1980s. Under construction since 2003, the project has yet to be inaugurated due to cost overruns, corruption scandals and endless delays.
“Acqua Alta” is a project by photographer Matteo de Mayda and journalist Cosimo Bizzarri, aimed at observing the Venetian lagoon’s fragile ecosystem from multiple points of view and showing the impact of the climate emergency on the city and its inhabitants.
“Acqua Alta” will feature portraits and interviews with local heroes and prominent researchers, documentary and scientific photography of the lagoon and the Mose infrastructure, maps and infographics, as well as minor details shedding a light on Venice’s unicity both as a natural, cultural and social context.
The project was initiated during the high tide of November 2019 and will continue over at least two years and a first chapter will be delivered by August 30, 2020.
“Acqua Alta” will show the city recovering from the emergency but facing constant precariousness, in the deafening silence of mainstream media.
The final goal is creating a comprehensive body of work that may be published both as a book and as an online multimedia platform. Sections of the project may be pitched to national and international magazines.
We choose Venice because here we have a “privileged” point of view to observe closely the climate impact on the first city that will end up underwater by 2050, as predicted by the US non-profit organization Climate Central.