Basilicata Vol 1


Archives of Basilicata is a book series devised and edited by Nationhood and published by Humboldt Books. The monographic publications, commissioned by the Matera-Basilicata 2019 Foundation on occasion of Matera European Capital of Culture 2019 and part of the wider I-DEA project, are centred around important documentary heritage from national archives and private collections that involve Basilicata and events linked to this region. The series sets out to create a relationship between image and written text that can give space to broader reflections. The choice of photographic content therefore acts as a trigger for the publication of essays and literary experiments able to relate to the retraced visual heritage. The texts, all entrusted to different writers, stray from a more classic descriptive approach and bring out the potential of archives as heritage that can build up our understanding of the past as well as the present. The first volume in the series digs out 64 photos from the archives of the Bradano and Metaponto Reclamation Consortium taken in the Metapontino area towards the middle of the 1950s. During the reclamation work and the development of the Basilicata water system, the photographs – depicting buildings, constructions and views of a rapidly changing landscape – acted as a tangible unit of measurement in order to analyse the state of progress of the work underway. Today, those same photographs become a tool to investigate the implications and consequences of these territorialization processes on the local anthropology, culture and power structures. The images act as a physical watershed between the two texts that complete the book. In The Vanishing, winner of the Campiello Opera Prima 2019 prize for a debut work, Marco Lupo explores the past through the eyes of a now grown-up native of Basilicata, as he looks at how the reclamation operations intertwined with the everyday life of a family of local labourers. The image described, of a man worn down by years of toil, smiling at his son every morning as he set off to work – from which he would never return – casts light on the darker corollaries of a propaganda story built on the needs of a neglected people. Andrea Bagnato, head of publications for the first Sharjah Architecture Triennial and lecturer in architecture at the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam and the Architectural Association in London, also deals with narration in his essay The Normalization of Bodies and Space. In particular, Bagnato highlights how over the last two centuries the reclamation processes in Italy have been upheld by confutable scientific and ideological arguments, demonstrating how the consequences of these processes still produce serious political and environmental repercussions today.