Artist Statement

An industrial skyline looms over Taranto through every possible visual and mental sight. For over 50 years, smoke, dust and pollutants propagated in a town forced to an alleged “industrial vocation”, but actually with deeper, more and more invisible vocations for farming, tourism and the sea. Water and oil, countryside and steel, doric columns and concrete do not coexist in this southern Italian town, as well as the absurd, unacceptable by now, alternative between work and health. Sansavenir is a word painted on a wall dividing the Ilva steel factory and the town surrounding it. These photographs talk about what is surrounding it.

The tag “sansavenir” is on the wall that surrounds the Ilva establishment, the wall that skirts the road, which takes you to Tamburi neighborhood, the part of the city that is nearer to the pollution created by this industry. That graffiti is the first thing I saw entering into the city of Taranto with the purpose of taking pictures, and in that moment I understood the clear relationship between the city of Taranto and the Ilva Establishment.  

The first impression I had was then confirmed thanks to the conversation held with the inhabitants of the city of Taranto. A city that has been for so long subdued and that still is subjected to pollution, took people to a “no-future” condition, if this does not change in the imminent time. This flip could become real escaping from the stranglehold of the iron and steel industry; an industry that on one hand grants jobs to many people and on the other poisons its territory and its inhabitants.

On July, 2012 the bench set that the Ilva tasks was responsible of the pollution and so imposed the requisition of a part of its plants. Because of this the citizens became aware of this situation and began to protest, being for long in the news and in the political debate. Important matters as health, jobs, environment and economics are focused and dramatically opposed in this city of the south of Italy, and in the city of Taranto every aspect of it is involved in this event. This problem is not just about the Ilva Establishment or the neighborhoods located next to it. The whole city is involved in a matter that concerns the inhabitants’ health consequences, economic and productive choices, occupational effects, the environmental damage from more than fifty year.

Discussion surrounding Taranto is: the Tamburi neighborhood, the most damaged from pollution in terms of environment and people health; the houses are red painted to not show the evident color of the minerals that lie on it and in the people’s lungs; the industrial area includes the Eni plant and a cement plant, both responsible of a part of the pollution; the countryside that surrounds the city, particularly next to Statte, compromised by dioxin, especially for the ovine and caprine livestock, that needed to be dejected and to be avoided into a certain area; the sea of Taranto, its beauty and richness as fishing activity, but even the damage caused by pollution given from the remains of the production thrown in the sea; the historical center of Taranto, the island, most of the abandoned flats even because of the crisis of the fishers production; the newest part of the city where the navy is located.

Talk about Taranto—about what there is today in the city—about the industrial skyline that Taranto offers as a show to everyone who comes and visits or lives in it. About what has been sacrificed on the altar of a certain kind of industrialization that in this case is been capable to overpower any kind of other activity.

The industrialization confused by a city vocation, that certainly have had other kind of vocation put aside: the sea, from which people took the distance, even as a productive activity; from tourism and historical and cultural richness, Taranto as the capital city of the Greek colony “Magna Grecia”, that has become an almost impossible option to practice; the countryside that has suffered a lot of damages and totally abandoned.