Massimo Mastrorillo - Aliqual

Skinnerboox, 2015

ALIQUAL is not a site-specific history. It’s a story about all of us and it is important that it is sustained and widespread. Because an earthquake can destroy the houses but only the man can destroy roots. The reference is to Iceland, rich country failed overnight without objective responsibilities of the inhabitants, to the economic crisis in Greece; to the limbo in which our country has lived for decades between well-being, incurable economic crisis, bad politics and lack of interest …

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© Aliqual  by Massimo Mastrorillo (Skinnerboox, 2015)

© Aliqual by Massimo Mastrorillo (Skinnerboox, 2015)

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On 6 April 2009 the land breaks into a jolt of magnitude 5.8 plunging everyone in a quick and unspeakable state of distress. As symbolic deployment of a coming era, all the sense of the documentarist Massimo Mastrorillo’s project is in its title. ALIQUAL is the result of the endless repetition of the word “L’AQUILA” until it loses its true meaning and seems to be an anagram. That is all that, post 2009, L’Aquila is no longer. It is no longer a christian simulacrum, a blackboard for the school, a floor, a building, the habits of a domestic dog. The reference to a certain place with a friendly aesthetic despite the dramatic events of that April is non-stop to remember, without claiming to sew the cracks up. The direction of the book goes to the succession of images that can detect plots of cultural and historical relations, now “failed” because broken. And here they stand, only the 88 prints, because all strictly vertical. With a digital camera and a flash, Mastrorillo visit the interiors of houses, symbols of the devastation, and chooses the study of fragments and pieces of the scene, showing an analysis where the episodic story-telling shows a strong identity of the place. The same place that paradoxically reveals itself in a unitary concept, within the limits of a context that is as recognizable as painfully theatrical.

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ALIQUAL – L’AQUILA is an enclave in the territory, locked and frozen as it was the day of the quake. It is the symbol of a city that is still without solution. Because after six years everything has remained as it was. And after more than 6 years after the first pictures of the wound L’Aquila, this new, vibrant portrait of a city that fights for the right to live with fullness and freedom his life confirms an essential reading in the landscape of contemporary reportage photography.

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© Aliqual  by Massimo Mastrorillo (Skinnerboox, 2015)

© Aliqual by Massimo Mastrorillo (Skinnerboox, 2015)

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One day a resident told me that the life of L’Aquila and Aquilani is actually suspended. It was a revelation. I realized that the concept of suspension was the key to a deeper, thoughtful and complex story

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I entered the abandoned houses of the old town, in those areas forbidden for a long time, accessible only to law enforcement and now open to visitors, vandals, drug addicts, young and bored seeking transgression. And it is in these areas that I found the suspension. The boundary between the forced oblivion that the mind produces and the memory of so many lives. And this is the place where the border between rich and poor, between public and private, doesn’t exist anymore, everything belongs to everyone and no one at a time. What Aquilans refuse to see the media have never wanted to tell was and is available to anyone. Chaos is everywhere, everywhere is order. But a new order: a continuous composing and decomposing into new form, unimagined possibilities of existence …

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© Aliqual  by Massimo Mastrorillo (Skinnerboox, 2015)

© Aliqual by Massimo Mastrorillo (Skinnerboox, 2015)

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The book was made possible thanks to the promotion of Eppela and the collaboration of 150 contributors who, through a crowdfunding campaign lasting 42 days, have made the project possible.

ALIQUAL was on show at the Leica Gallery & Store in Milan, from September to October 2015.

Take a look of the entire project on vimeo.com

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© Aliqual  by Massimo Mastrorillo (Skinnerboox, 2015)

© Aliqual by Massimo Mastrorillo (Skinnerboox, 2015)

© Aliqual  by Massimo Mastrorillo (Skinnerboox, 2015)

© Aliqual by Massimo Mastrorillo (Skinnerboox, 2015)

© Aliqual  by Massimo Mastrorillo (Skinnerboox, 2015)

© Aliqual by Massimo Mastrorillo (Skinnerboox, 2015)

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INTERVIEW with Massimo Mastrorillo

VIThere is a “landscape photography” that is able to re-code a space in the changed perception of the meaning of its environmental features. In this case, I think you just wanted to extract a sample of reality, like a medical withdrawal performed with clarity and concentration. At what point during the several years of visits did you realize to be part of an inevitable process of change? When the did raw become ALIQUAL?

MM – For about four and a half years I worked only investigating the landscape, Mutation / no mutations of the same, trying to figure out which chapters to add or if the language used until now was the most appropriate. When one resident told me about the state of suspension in which L’Aquila and Aquilans were forced to live for years, I understand clearly where to focus my attention, what to tell and how. I decided to enter homes that once were abandoned, vandalized and unsafe but now open to everyone, full of memories that no longer want to remember, I decided to photograph with a camera and a flash, with a greater immediacy and without paying much attention to the shape. As you go along, ALIQUAL took shape, the parallel reality was outlined and the change became inevitable, forcing me to become a witness.

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© Aliqual  by Massimo Mastrorillo (Skinnerboox, 2015)

© Aliqual by Massimo Mastrorillo (Skinnerboox, 2015)

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VIIn cases of natural disasters or similar, the “landscaping” interest is not just an aesthetic issue looking at the relevant home interiors but also concerns the body involvement for all, concerns noise, the realization of vast environments that, although the status of carcasses, live with the full weight of their downfall, which is added to the ruin of time. In social and sociological, do you think there is a conflict of visions between the generations present during the quake and new ones, who find themselves in a city censored, destined to be reconfigured and rehabilitated?


MM – More than a conflict of vision I would speak of an absence of vision for some generations. The most disturbing aspect is that there are young people that have forgotten L’Aquila and others that have never seen. All this in a context in which the link with the territory and origins, has always been particularly strong. The adult generations have a clear idea of how they’d like their “new” city. We must see if they can pass on and preserve this idea or if the process of erasing the memory due to the events and choices of politicians will prevail.

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© Aliqual  by Massimo Mastrorillo (Skinnerboox, 2015)

© Aliqual by Massimo Mastrorillo (Skinnerboox, 2015)

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VIIn a city humiliated by the expression, nun of stories, voices, networks, sounds, how can photography help to think of concepts such as citizenship, how to overcome the separation, how to activate connections in these new geographies? How to eliminate the effects of distance and deep implications on spatial organization?

MM – I do not know if photography can really motivate people. I’m sure you can recall, you can figure out through the metaphor. Not to see often helps to see better. The voices and sounds seem not to exist but in reality they hide the signs left by the lives that they lived in the houses that I photographed. The suspended state of the city and its citizens has brought everything to a zero level. There are no rich, poor, public or private. In this context, everything seems to go beyond the concept of distinction or separation while in the new areas, the so-called Project Houses, have been exported to many of the malaises of society, amplified by the discomforts born from different and unusual organization of space and distances that are unusual for this area. I want to be optimistic and hope that what appears to be a context of abandonment can become a breeding ground for the rebirth of certain values ​​and a city that can be an example for the others.

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© Aliqual  by Massimo Mastrorillo (Skinnerboox, 2015)

© Aliqual by Massimo Mastrorillo (Skinnerboox, 2015)

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VIWhat are the labors and satisfactions of a crowdfunding campaign?

MM – The crowdfunding campaigns are really demanding, sometimes stressful. You live according to the numbers, the deadline. However it is critical to understand in what measure a project is able to get in touch with people which is the only objective to which, a photographer who wants to tell a story, should aim. Publications and awards are secondary and meaningless in comparison to the response, and public attention. In addition you create unexpected links and supporters living with anxiety and participation either the success of the campaign or the press and the reception of the book.

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© Aliqual  by Massimo Mastrorillo (Skinnerboox, 2015)

© Aliqual by Massimo Mastrorillo (Skinnerboox, 2015)

© Aliqual  by Massimo Mastrorillo (Skinnerboox, 2015)

© Aliqual by Massimo Mastrorillo (Skinnerboox, 2015)

© Aliqual  by Massimo Mastrorillo (Skinnerboox, 2015)

© Aliqual by Massimo Mastrorillo (Skinnerboox, 2015)

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Massimo Mastrorillo has long been engaged in documenting the consequences of wars and natural and environmental disasters on society. Convinced by the emotional power of photography is always looking for new languages that provide food for thought and different points of view. He has won numerous international awards including the World Press Photo, Picture of the Year International, the Lucie Award and PDN annual. He teaches photography at the Leica Academy and at the Roman School of Photography. He’s Leica Ambassador. In 2015 he founded, together with colleagues Paolo Cenciarelli and Pamela Piscicelli, DOOR, a Roman factory for the creation and promotion of visual culture and publishing.
Hardcover: 128 pages – 150 g/m.
Publisher: Skinnerboox, 2015
Language: Italian and English
ISBN: 9788894031935
Product Dimensions: Size 28×19,7 cm
Gardagloss Art, Otabind cucito a filo refe, 4 pagine + 2 alette da 18 cm su tela Bukrham, stampa a caldo 1c giallo su fronte e dorso, due schede su fronte e retro della sovracopertina.
Text by 3/3
Book design 3/3

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www.massimomastrorillo.com

www.skinnerboox.com

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Curated by Valentina Isceri

Translation by Cristian Cai