Lipadusa. From Sea to Land

Words by Teresa Sartore
January 8, 2016

Lipadusa is a photo project about the identity of Lampedusa by Calogero Cammalleri. The images, published in a book, are also part of the collective exhibition “La Fabrica del Presente”, now on show at Museo di Roma in Trastevere (open until 24 January 2016).

Lampedusa is an island and a border territory with a hybrid identity: a crossroads where people with diverse life experiences encounter each other, generating new transcultural realities. Geographically closer to Africa, but politically still Italian, Lampedusa nowadays recalls the imaginary of migration and the tragedy of refugees. Cammalleri’s photographs depict the island’s most authentic and timeless character, its dreamlike and silent atmosphere. His prints evoke contradictory feelings, as a subtle sense of disorientation coexists with a familiar warmth.

This project strikes not only as a marvelously poetic and imaginative artwork but also as a powerful political message. Cammalleri landed at Lampedusa in 2013, in the aftermath of the tragedy of October 3, when 368 people died in the Sicilian Channel. The photographer embarked upon a personal inner journey investigating concepts such as displacement, identity and belonging. The starting point was his intimate life experience as an emigrant and his reunion with his homeland and its inhabitants, fellow travellers in his photographic exploration. In fact, Calogero Cammalleri is an Italian grown up in Germany, who went back to Sicily after seventeen years, in search of his roots. During his nine months’ stay on Lampedusa, from November 2013 to July 2014, he gained the trust of the islanders and became actively part of their daily life in the island. He portrayed fishermen, children, animals and landscapes: intense black and white photographs, often blurred, that communicate a timeless perception of an enchanted place.

Lipadusa is part of Sciabica, a project of slow journalism produced by Fabrica in the wake of the tragedy of the 3 October 2013. After the front pages and cover stories of the reporters had ceased and Lampedusa was no longer breaking news, Sciabica started narrating the lives of the migrants and islanders of Lampedusa, writing about cohabitation, emergency and solidarity.

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