La Rada di Augusta

Sebastian Wells

2019 - Ongoing

La Rada di Augusta (2019-2020) is a story about the weathering remnants of turbo-capitalism, the North-South divide and the price of rapid progress.

Since the end of World War II, a complicated social tension has developed in the Bay of Augusta - around one of the largest and most environmentally damaging petrochemical industrial complexes in Europe - between Catholicism and capitalism, mafia-like underground structures and polarising environmental activists.

The work uses photographic narratives to search for the anthropological core of Augusta's (post-)industrial society - in the conviction that the relationship between environment and industry is much more than a matter for politicians, engineers and pipelines. Augusta could be anywhere.

The presentation consists of three parts: 1. Two large panel paintings address two diametrically opposed social poles: A refinery as an allegory of the promise of progress against a glowing Madonna in the night mist as a reference to traditional Sicily. 2. A video projection shows night shots of the refinery as a continuous loop, whose image sections are static but appear like the "eternal light" of modern times due to the constant movement of smoke and sound. 3. In front of the projection, a 70cm x 100cm book is placed on a desk, in which another 32 photographs can be seen. They show intimate moments in everyday life and search for human fragility and empathy under the massive burden of the lack of perspective.

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  • An agave blossoms. The plants usually rise for many years just to blossom for one time. They die after that. Refinery of Lukoil, Priolo Gargallo, August 2019.

  • Older men meet to play Domino at the Philantropic Association. All of them are former refinery workers. Augusta, April 2019.

  • Older woman meet on the market. Augusta, August, 2019.

  • Naomy celebrates her 16th birthday in a small road behind the shipyards. Augusta, November 2019.

  • A Madonna shines at a yacht port. Augusta, December 2019.

  • People carry a buffin during the funeral of Giovanni Vinci, who died because of cancer at the age of 44. Melilli, June 2019.

  • This plant of the refinery of Lukoil is called „fossa del leone“ („lion´s cave“). Priolo Gargallo, August 2019.

  • An older men looks down the „Viale Kennedy“. All the houses next to the street were once build to accomodate workers of the refineries. Melilli, August 2019.

  • Activists of the „Comitato Stop Veleni“ (Comittee Stop Poison) assemble. "Se avessi morto di cancro sarebbe un omicidio." ("If I died of cancer, it would be murder.") is written on her shirts. Augusta, February 2020.

  • Harbor of Augusta. Augusta, February 2020.

  • Danilo smokes on his motorbike. „He´s famous at the police office“, a few friends of him tell me. Augusta, August 2019.

  • Guests of a Marriage. Melilli, September 2019.

  • Adrian, Mido and Enzo, three adolescents from Augusta, look though the fence of the Sonotrach refinery. Priolo Gargallo, September 2019.

  • Paintings of all mayors are mounted on a wall of the local council. Priolo Gargallo, September 2019.

  • Helena looks into nothing during the 18th birthday of her boyfriend Gaetano. Villasmundo, September 2019.

  • Members of the Corpo Musicale make a break during a parade. Augusta, November 2019.

  • A newly build graveyard is located next to the refineries. Citta Giardino, November 2019.

  • Workers have lunch at the mensa of ISAB, that belongs to Lukoil today. Priolo Gargallo, February 2020.

  • Two fisherman leave the dock at five in the morning. As the bay of Augusta is highly contamined, they have to make a long way to fish out of the bay, where the water is less contamined. Augusta, December 2019.

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