Postcards from Italy started off as a column on Fluid Radio aimed at mapping out the Italian electro acoustic scene. The idea was then taken up by Giulio Aldinucci and Attilio Novellino in order to create an album where members from the Aips collective were asked to take field recordings in their own respective cities and areas, which were then redistributed amongst the group on an anonymous basis in order to be reworked and processed. The resulting multifaceted sonic snapshots of the Italian peninsula is the first scheduled release on Aips’ new Oak Label and will be available at a special Cafe OTO gig on the 16th of June as well as at SoundFjord (15th June – 21st July) which will be hosting a specially conceived installation aimed at exploring the concept of identity linked to that of place. The show will be focusing on sound recordings of areas in Italy affected by earthquakes, landslides and man-made environmental disasters, alongside those of the new towns borne in their wake, interspersed with music that explores space and meaning in other ways. The sounds will be interacting with super8 footage filmed in abandoned villages throughout Italy together with archive material from the villages of the Belìce Valley in Sicily, that were raised to the ground in 1968 by an earthquake killing 400 and leaving 100,000 homeless.
In the wake of such tragedies, local communities often become divided, and displaced. This has happened throughout the whole of Italy, from Cavallerizzo, a small Albanian village in Calabria, to Longarone, in the Veneto region – where in 1963 a landslide caused the overtopping of the Vajont dam and the death of around 2,000 people, swept away and buried in mud by a 200 mt tall wave.
Another ongoing trend is to seal off the affected areas and relocate the people to new towns, which allows a corrupt political and financial elite to make huge profits. This is what happened after the 2009 earthquake in L’Aquila that killed around 300 people, with the historical city centre still being off limits.
Amongst the sounds included in the show are Pietro Riparbelli’s field recordings taken in three of L’Aquila’s most heavily damaged churches, with the sound of pigeons flapping their wings in the eerie silence, a sad reminder that four years on, a city of almost 70,000 still lies in ruins.
Virtuous examples of new towns do exist, but they are few and far between. A case in point os that of the Garbatella district in Rome, which was built in the 20s along the lines of the British Garden Cities of the early XX century and remains one of the very few successful examples of urban development in Rome. Alas, Rome is paradigmatic in terms of the ongoing destruction of the territory in Italy, with precious farmland being converted into urban areas by property developers who, in some cases, also happen to own national newspapers and have family ties with some very influential politicians.
Urban planning rules and regulations are routinely flaunted in Italy, which results in whole new districts springing up almost overnight with no infrastructure, as the work of brave urbanists like Paolo Berdini exposes.
All this has far reaching consequences. When an earthquake struck the town of San Giuliano di Puglia in Molise (2002), 27 schoolchildren and a teacher died because builders hadn’t complied with building regulations.
Unfortunately this is seen as the norm in a country where toxic waste is used as building material for schools and houses in Crotone, while asbestos is mixed with tarmac to build new roads in Lombardy.
There are countless empty flats on the outskirts of Rome and yet more are being built everyday. Virtually entire villages are up for sale all over Italy while an increasing number of houses are being built on converted farmland. As Ludovico Corrao, the former mayor of Gibellina, one of the flattened villages of the Belìce Valley said in an interview with Manuele Bonaccorsi, “A group of houses does not make a village”. The old town of Gibellina now only exists as a fragile memory brought to life by the super8 home movies from the Belìce / EpiCentro della Memoria Viva museum included in the show. Fragments of sounds and amateur images give an impressionistic view of ties severed.
Opening: 14 June 2013, 7-9pm | RSVP info[at]soudfjord.org.uk
Exhibition: 15 June 2013 – 21 July 2013