Un agosto messinese
"I spend every summer holiday in a small fishing village in the province of Messina. The people there have seen me grow up, some of them could say the same about my father, until just a few years ago others could say the same about my grandfather. I have spent countless days in Ganzirri reading on the breakwaters, swimming where the Tyrrhenian and Ionian seas meet, and watching fishermen carry swordfish onto the shore.
Some photographs are from the surrounding area. Montalbano Elicona, Capo d’Orlando, Milazzo, samples from Messina’s vast province and endless beauty. Most of them are from Ganzirri. Being in the village drew my attention to details, in a place otherwise lacking any attraction. The most beautiful things there are the boats: their peeling paint, the way they sit on the grass just a few meters from the sea, seemingly never touching the water. The rest of the town is in decay. The streets are dirty, the shore-line polluted with rubbish, some houses visibly lined with asbestos. When I’m not looking at the boats, I study the pipes and cables on the buildings, looking for well composed lines and pleasing shadows.
The black and white tonal range of the photographs aims to imbue these images with a haptic quality. As opposed to being seen the textures are meant to be felt. The roughness of the boats’ wooden exteriors, the cracking of their coats, the craggy surface of concrete walls, the soft lights of the penumbra and the stark contrasts of the glaring sun. In addition, the fine consistencies of the film grain contribute to this impression of hapticity. The film creates texture in the images’ apparently smooth areas, conveying the materiality of the medium and, indirectly, of the sunlight.
While people are largely absent from this series, their discreet presence holds great importance. I was moved by Martina’s enthusiasm when she was told her photograph was going to be displayed in a small exhibition. She is positioned here between two depictions of the Madonna and Child as a small homage to Sicily’s self-proclaimed reverence of women, supposedly rooted in its matriarchal past. This series would be incomplete without Federico. The only friend I ever made in Ganzirri, his kindness embodies the warmth of August in Messina and his joyfulness epitomises those calm, care-free days."