PHOTOGRAPHY AND CATASTROPHE. Antonio Di Cecco in dialogue with the collections of the Photo Library

man, nature, catastrophe

The relation between man and the natural environment accompanies the history of mankind. It has given rise to a reciprocal form of conditioning, in which a community’s cultural and social system is shaped by the peculiarities of the natural environment, while at the same time new forms are impressed on the landscape by human action. So-called ‘natural’ disasters are placed at the centre of this relation. On the one hand, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and floods, which strike a territory modified by human intervention, cause an irreversible change in the balance of that social system. On the other, the intervention of man, by altering the balance of an ecosystem, may itself contribute to the triggering of catastrophic events.
The first chapter of the exhibition diachronically probes this relation. It does so through a series of formal dialogues in which the image of a reconnaissance along the coast of Vesuvius in the late nineteenth century is placed in relation to the photo of the fault-line of Monte Vettore examined by a group of geologists after the recent earthquakes in Central Italy (2016-2017). The upper slopes of the volcanic landscapes of Etna and Vesuvius, in turn, are placed in relation to the forms of the Monti Sibillini decomposed in a diptych. The visual survey covers places, elements and atmospheres able to capture the signs and alterations impressed on the natural and urban landscape, ranging from volcanic craters to landscapes subject to landslides and post-earthquake sites. The survey also focuses on new forms of human settlement after natural disasters, on the dichotomous relations caused by the delocalized reconstructions of some towns struck by earthquakes (Bussana, Gibellina), on new forms and on the possible re-signification of ruins.

Brogi Studio, c. 1895 (?), albumen print, inv. KHI no. 186885 // ENVIRONS OF NAPLES, The eruption of 1895 // Reconnaissance of the crater of the volcano.

Antonio Di Cecco // MONTE VETTORE, June 2018 // Geological survey in the environs of the fault-line of the earthquake of 30 October 2016.

Box of the Architecture Section, Photo Library of the KHI

Brogi Studio, ante 1912, albumen print, inv. KHI no. 254426 // ETNA, Vallata del Bove with view of the large crater.

Box of the Architecture Section, Photo Library of the KHI

Unidentified photographer, post 1915, gelatin silver print, inv. KHI no. 121173 // ALBA FUCENS (L’Aquila), after the earthquake of 1915.

Unidentified photographer, c. 1900 (?), albumen print, inv. KHI no. 197939 // CIVITA DI BAGNOREGIO (Viterbo) // The morphology of the area in which the borgo is situated was caused by erosion and landslides of the surrounding hills.

Antonio Di Cecco // PONZANO (Teramo), February 2017 // Landslide-prone slope threatening the inhabited centre. The landslide was activated on 12 February 2017. The causes of the event have been attributed to various factors: the earthquake tremors on 18 January 2017, the abundant rainfall, and the melting of the snow, all contributed to the instability of the terrain.

Brogi Studio, ante 1899, albumen print, inv. KHI no. 244803 // RIVIERA DI PONENTE, Panorama of the old town of Bussana // The old town of Bussana (Imperia), abandoned after the earthquake of 1887.

Brogi Studio, ante 1899, albumen print, inv. KHI no. 244802 //RIVIERA DI PONENTE, Panorama of the new town of Bussana // The new town of Bussana (Imperia) was built 3 km from the old town, severely damaged by the earthquake in 1887 .

Antonio Di Cecco // GIBELLINA VECCHIA (Trapani), Alberto Burri’s Grande Cretto, August 2018 // The Grande Cretto was created from the ruins of Gibellina, an historic rural settlement destroyed by the earthquake that struck Belìce in January 1968. The fissuring of its surface reproduces the orography and roads of the old Gibellina. The new Gibellina was built at a distance of 18 km from the old.

Antonio Di Cecco // PESCARA DEL TRONTO (Ascoli Piceno), January 2017 // The town after the earthquake of 24 August 2016.

Box of the Architecture Section, Photo Library of the KHI

Brogi Studio, c. 1895, albumen print, inv. KHI no. 249637 // NAPOLI, Panorama with Vesuvius in eruption (5 July 1895) // The threat of Vesuvius has accompanied the history of Naples ever since Antiquity. The last eruption occurred in 1944 and entirely destroyed some towns on the slopes of the volcano.

Brogi Studio, ante 1912, albumen print, inv. KHI no. 254425 // NICOLOSI, Panorama from Monte Rossi with view of the lava flows of 1886 and of Etna // The frequent eruptions of Etna in the course of history have modified the forms of the volcano and of the surrounding landscape.

Antonio Di Cecco // MONTE LIETO, NATIONAL PARK OF THE MONTI SIBILLINI, November 2016 // Road leading from Castelsantangelo sul Nera (Macerata) to Castelluccio di Norcia (Perugia). The road was severely damaged by the earthquake in 2016 and closed to traffic in September 2018.

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