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

objects, surfaces, boundaries

In the accelerated timescale of the phase of post-disaster emergency, the urban space is characterized by the presence of rubble and detritus, and by new signs imprinted on the horizontal and vertical surfaces. Some historic photos of the flood in Florence in November 1966 show the Baptistery and other buildings which seem to be floating precariously on the dark floodwater that has spread from the burst banks of the Arno. They show the pavement of the Piazza Santa Croce covered by mud, in which the traces of the passage of vehicles are imprinted.
In the long period of reconstruction, on the other hand, new features were incorporated in the urban landscape, flanking or overlapping the existing spaces and buildings. The scaffolding that shores up the historic buildings, the emergency covering that envelops the monuments, the utilitarian apparatus of building works in progress that clutters the streets are superimposed over the well-known image of the townscape and impose on our eye the need to familiarize ourselves with a new and different aesthetic. Even works of art — here represented by the iconic image of Cimabue’s Crucifix — with their many-layered aspects, aesthetic, historical, scenic and sometimes religious, bear the signs of the disaster in their materiality. Following restoration, they re-acquire their original function and are returned to their original sites, and this in turn helps to re-establish the link between landmarks, places of identity, and citizenship. Meanwhile, in the suspension of time that has characterized the slow reconstruction of L’Aquila, and that is materialized in the image of the vegetation that has insinuated itself between the scaffolding and the Palazzo del Convitto, the new ‘temporary’ housing units of the C.A.S.E. Project, erected in the surrounding mountain landscape, already show signs of daily life.
So the catastrophe generates new trajectories, new centres and new boundaries: the thresholds become impassable; the customary routes through the centre of town are interrupted by the barriers of the red zone (off-limits); citizens are forced to move to other sites, while awaiting the chance of being able to re-appropriate those that were once the centre of their daily life.


Antonio Di Cecco // PAGLIARE DI SASSA (L’Aquila), March 2010 // Landscaping of the areas surrounding the temporary housing of the C.A.S.E. Project, trees awaiting planting.

Antonio Di Cecco // L’AQUILA, February 2012 // Piazza Palazzo, city hall and other historic building protected by scaffolding as part of safety measures put in place in the town centre.

Ivo Bazzecchi, 1966, gelatin silver print, inv. KHI no. 497284 // FLORENCE, Piazza Santa Croce after the flood of 4 November 1966.

Ivo Bazzecchi, 1966, gelatin silver print, inv. KHI no. 498313 // FLORENCE, Piazza del Duomo after the Arno had burst its banks on 4 November 1966.

Antonio Di Cecco // SANT’EUSANIO FORCONESE (L’Aquila), July 2011 // Historic fountain hidden by provisional wooden enclosure.

Antonio Di Cecco // L’AQUILA, September 2009 // Historic city centre, iron trestles used to prepare the containment structures to be installed on the damaged buildings.

Antonio Di Cecco // ONNA (L’Aquila), March 2011 // *The façade of the church of San Pietro Apostolo after the installation of scaffolding to shore it up. *

Antonio Di Cecco // SAN FELICE SUL PANARO (Modena), April 2016 // Church of San Felice Vescovo Martire after the earthquake in 2012. Wooden structure to provide safe access to the church.

Antonio Di Cecco // FOSSA (L’Aquila), April 2011 // Historic town centre, limit of the red zone.

Antonio Di Cecco // PAGLIARE DI SASSA (L’Aquila), March 2013 // C.A.S.E. (Complessi Antisismici Sostenibili Ecocompatibili) Project, ‘temporary’ wooden building. These earthquake-proof housing units are prefabricated buildings constructed on seismically isolated reinforced concrete slabs. A total of 184 slabs were realized, distributed in 19 areas surrounding L’Aquila. Originally conceived as temporary structures, the settlements of the C.A.S.E. Project permanently modified the surrounding landscape of L’Aquila.

Antonio Di Cecco // COPPITO (L’Aquila), November 2015 // C.A.S.E. Project, ‘temporary’ wooden building.

Antonio Di Cecco // L’AQUILA, November 2015 // Palazzo del Convitto, protective scaffolding erected in May 2009.

Antonio Di Cecco // L’AQUILA, September 2009 // Historic city centre, private courtyard.

Antonio Di Cecco // TUSSILLO DI VILLA SANT’ANGELO (L’Aquila), September 2009 // Church of Sant’Agata.

Antonio Di Cecco // L’AQUILA, April 2009 // Palazzo Ciolina-Ciampella.

Ivo Bazzecchi, 1966, gelatin silver print, inv. KHI no. 489524 // FLORENCE, Cimabue’s Crucifix at Santa Croce after the flood of November 1966. // Erection of scaffolding for first emergency measures of the Crucifix.

Antonio Di Cecco // PIEVE DI CENTO (Modena), March 2016 // Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, preliminary operations to ascertain the state of the structure after the earthquakes of 2012.

Antonio Di Cecco // PIEVE DI CENTO (Modena), March 2016 // Church of Santa Maria Maggiore.

Antonio Di Cecco // VOCETO DI AMATRICE (Rieti), December 2016 // Church of Santa Savina, provisional intervention for the protection of the damaged structure.

Boxes of the Architecture Section, Photo Library of the KHI




© KHI in Florence | 22.01.2020 03:23:05