In this article, I’ll show you some images taken in the suburbs of my city showing the man-altered landscape of a highly populated region in the north of Italy. In these photos I’ll show the territory changed by man in every mode, where the human figure does not appear as the main subject. This is a tribute to Robert Adams and his masterpiece “The New West.”
Neotopography is a visual art movement which simply registers, without alterations, the place as it appears. This movement was born in 1975 as a refutation of the classic landscape photography, exemplified by the masterpieces of Ansel Adams showing wild places and uncontaminated nature. The main representatives of neotopography are Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, Joe Deal, Frank Gohlke, Nicholas Nixon, John Schott, and Stephen Shore
The main subject of the movement is man-altered territory. Today, we are convinced that wild and uncontaminated places in world are now extremely rare, and that we must learn to share the earth not only with wild animals but even with other people.
So, following this school of thought, I decided to document the landscape around me as is. Like these photographers, I pay attention in the composition and in the precision of the documentation, using a 6×6 camera (my Lubitel 166U) to obtain as much detail as possible.
All these photos were taken in Lipomo, a suburb located a few kilometers from the center of Como, where I live. Like Robert Adams in his book “The New West”, when I saw how these old people were forced to carry their groceries along a sidewalk of an unknown industrial zone, I believed that we need to rethink the urbanization of our country.
These places are a mix of industrial and small residential buildings, where there are very few grocery shops, forcing people to go to the big shopping center about a kilometer away.
There are sleeping quarters, where you see few people around, both shy and walking hurriedly, and where people stay at home at the end of the working day, leaving deserted streets and squares. Here, you do not communicate; here, it seems like living in a nightmare as in a film of Ingmar Bergman, where time passes and nothing happens.
The speculation has devoured the little green remained on the hills, and the houses were built closer to the old factories, all in an urban nonsense.
It’s a sad place, even for a short walk.
The industries are gradually abandoned to give way to some unnamed residential buildings.
Gray walls reign supreme, but not for long; industries are closing and are migrating in countries where labor costs are lower than in Europe.
All that remains is a short walk in the woods, which is also no more pristine: there’s litter and rubbish everywhere on the edge of the road.
Photography teaches us to see what is around us, and that we often ignore, with new eyes.
Salute to the Masters is a series dedicated to some great photographers of our century, from street photographers like J. H. Lartigue, to landscape and architecture photographers like Gabriele Basilico.