• True Faith

    It was May 1987. My mother took me to a grove close to our home, in Calabria: after a strong and unusual snowfall, the branch of an olive tree was broken. In the wood, people soon recognized an image: the face of Jesus Christ. From all around the region, people started coming to see it with their own eyes. I was brought in face of the olive tree. Despite my efforts and the indications of the people, all I could see was a broken olive tree. At that time I was seven years old. I didn’t take any picture.

    In 2014, I began a research on the phenomenon of the apparition of religious images in Italy. Based on a newspapers archive and a collection of witnesses, I constructed a “map of the invisible” of the nation where one can record two thirds of world apparitions‘s cases. Following the cartography previously established, I asked the inhabitants to show me the place of the apparition: thirty years later, I was in front of the apparition again.

    The images appear on the most common supports: a wall, a tree, a car window, a lamppost, a gas pump, a door, a cave... Most of them represent the Christ or the Virgin, whose iconography has spread widely through pious images, churches, calendars, television and films. More recently there have been the appearances of a very popular Italian monk, Padre Pio, whose image has been codified in the last thirty years. The apparitions often cause changes in the physical space of the village: construction of walls to prevent too many pilgrims from reaching the site, reconstruction of the facade of a building, change of windows or doors, cut of trees... But community social life changes too: wedding dates get anticipated, people move wishing to live nearer to the apparition, relationship rise or break because of the jealousy produced by the image appeared on the house of one person rather than another.

    Where I keep seeing only a wall, other people perceive an event that transforms the the whole configuration of the village. By photographing these places where people tell me they see the apparitions, I ask the photographic image to become proof of an unpredictable fact, to become document of an event that will always remain invisible to my eyes.

    (With the support of CNAP - Centre National des Arts Plastiques)
  • 14.644

    Almost twenty years ago, I was flicking through my parent’s wedding photographs album. In one of the picture, there was a young man, smiling alone. I’ve never seen him before, so I asked my father about him. He told me: “He's Umberto, your cousin; a few years after the marriage, he decided to disappear”. Nobody knows what he did, and nobody knows where he could be today. We have just our “last Umberto’s picture”, smiling behind his 70’s glasses.

    In 2010, I started the project 14.644. 14.644 is the number of people who have disappeared in Italy since 1975. Approximately 400 per year, more than one every day. Until now, none of them have been found. The reasons for the disappearance remain undetermined, but all of these cases fits one definition: voluntary estrangement. On any given day, at any given hour, anywhere, men or women decide to cut their ties with the past, with their social and family roles, with their image. Thanks to the collaboration of an Italian journalist and the study of documents from the Italian Ministry of the Interior, I constructed a map of the places where missing people had been seen last. The idea was to locate these territories, which had become places of a processual truth (it is from these places that the police investigations began) following the testimony of a person who had recognized in the portrait, submitted by the family, the missing person.

    I photographed these places to create images that contained a possible truth through the gaze: an old photograph of a missing person, a witness, a photographer, an observer. This stratification of gazes could thus generate a new reading of a territory, which until then was banal and unnoticed: a geography built on the recognition of an image and on the belief in this image.

    The photographs of this project did not escape this construction of a visual truth. But if these images are to be considered as documents, then they should be regarded as “weak”, temporary documents, valid only until another witness thinks he or she has recognized the missing person in another place. At that moment, what will become of these photographs? What is the nature of these documents? What truth do they hold? Is there truth in an image only if it is shared by its observers?

  • Alphabet

    The Forum des Halles symbolized in the '70s a new and ambitious architectural vision in the heart of the historical centre of Paris. In place of the Baltard's Pavilions and the general markets, it was created a new futuristic space that had to contain the trade, the leisure, the work, the education, and the art. A monumental cement complex with subterranean layers brutalized the Beaubourg district. Today, a new vision takes place: a new complex satisfying the contemporary aesthetic requirements will replace the Forum. These 26 pictures were took during the first phase of the demolition of the Forum des Halles, developing an idea of temporality about this place. 26 as the letters of the alphabet through which the Forum, thirty-two years after the construction and by this time esteemed as old, declare itself at the moment of its falling and its oblivion.
    “That it is not about 'hurried' photography, not really about contemplation, but as Ezio D’Agostino says himself, 'about a photographic process which derives from my archaeology training'. This means confronting time and pacting with it. The archaeologist, such as the photographer, divides the territory so that he can better explore it. The archaeologist digs it, then, with a layered and depth approach, he reveals the layers that will provide elements of interpretation and knowledge. Through his frame (which belongs only to him and which seldom has the scientific knowledge of the archaeologist), the photographer, too, divides, slices and cuts the space we know and we experiment so that we can see it differently, with other perspectives. This lack of spectacular reveals a cut tree trunk surrounded by dying grass, which still resists while a poor plant, leaning on a green fence, tries, whereas dying, to climb out from a metallic gate. A bit further, in-depth, by the pool numbers define a podium, a winner and his runner-ups. Then, soft chalk houses on a blackboard, half erased, a child's drawing, a small bird lost on the red back of a plastic chair, waste behind a transparent and red plastic garbage bag, chromias and signs. A calm reading of a world which is not, sharp angles, material meeting, reflection and, as always, light such as the one that makes drops of water vibrating when they get away from some humble string lights.”

    Christian Caujolle

  • The Village (ongoing)

    A city of 30’000 inhabitants, with an average age of thirty-seven, the highest birth rate in France and a mortality rate of a mere 2%. A place inspired by architectural styles from before the Second World War, where advertisement is forbidden and every house is protected by alarms or connected to a video surveillance system. This is Val d’Europe, an urban community 35km from the French capital. Unique in its kind, it consists of six communes gathered around the premiere tourist destination in Europe: Disneyland Paris.

    The development of Val d’Europe begins to take place thanks to the building of Disneyland Park. In 1987 the French government decides to sell part of its land to the Walt Disney Company, through a public and private partnership between the state, the territorial communities and the world’s largest media and entertainment company. The Disney Company is appointed with the task of developing a new city on land up until then rural: 20’000 hectares of French terrain for which Disney will choose the construction companies, determine the urban structure of the six communes and establish the design of the houses and roads. For the first time in France, a private corporation is directly involved in an urban organization on such a large scale. Through the Euro Disney SCA, the Walt Disney Company builds residential areas, offices, schools and sport centers on the land surrounding the theme park – the supporting foundation of the newborn community’s economy. Hence, Val D’Europe became the most significant example of New Urbanism in Europe, a movement developed starting from the 1980s in the United States and in Europe with the aim to profoundly renew the dominant models of urban planning, and which today represents one of the most important movements of reformation within architecture. According to the New Urbanism movement, the urban model for traditional villages and cities constitutes the most efficient way for the development of a community. The cardinal points around which the renovation proposals are defined include: population density, the integration of different transport systems and the continuity with the traditions of national architecture. The architectural styles of Val d’Europe are of Neotraditional inspiration, the principal models are those of the typical farms in the Brie region and of Haussmann’s Parisian buildings. According to Valérie Vautier and Véronique Wild, authors of an important ethnological study on Val d’Europe, “The ‘neo’ style favours the image, giving it more importance than the function of an architectural construction, thus creating an urban scene without real content.”

    Thirty years from its creation, Val d’Europe is still a place in search of an identity of its own. For some people who have chosen to live there it represents a dream, a synthesis of tranquillity, security and well-being. For others, it has become a nightmare, made of alienation and solitude, where the only place in which real encounters can take place is in the immense shopping centre which bears the same name as the urban community. Walking through Val d’Europe, the question arises: What does the mise-en-scene created by the Disney empire imply in the construction of a real city?

  • Electrical Axis of the Heart

    Commissioned by 15. Biennale di Architettura di Venezia                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         A side door leads me into the Ex-Central Volpi, in Porto Marghera. One of the first thermo-electric power plants in Italy, built in 1922, in the desolate marshes that are now the foundation of the industrial hub of Venice. I walk down stairs and corridors, through the offices and the laboratories, the infirmary and the empty desks. Managers and workers have gone forever from the central, but I find them in a photo album left in a closet. They are playing a strange game, in a kind of theater that has erased any role: a shack, some smoke and masks that filter the air that enters and leaves the lungs of improvised actors. There isn't any noise more in the power plant, nor in its photographs. Not the sound of footsteps and voices in the corridors and offices, not the noise of the turbines and boilers. There is only the trivial silence of a daily space, which has only echoed the noise of the machines.