Simone Donati


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There's nothing here (ongoing)

A preview of Simone Donati's work on the Southern Apennines.

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Since the beginning of the 20th century, the regions of southern Italy have experienced intense levels of emigration, an ongoing trend that has contributed to the depletion of inland towns.

In January 2016, Simone Donati set off on a journey along the Southern Apennines chain, beginning from the Aspromonte mountain massif and moving northwards, on a trip that will take him across the regions of Calabria, Basilicata, Campania and Molise.

There's nothing here (ongoing)

The outcome of "There's nothing here" (working title) will be a composite photographic portrayal of these inland areas, their landscapes and the people that still inhabit them, with particular attention paid to the religious, social, cultural and traditional identity of these territories. Landscape photography, of both natural and urban sceneries, is combined with portrait photography, in a visual narrative that aims at catching the essence of a very little known geographical area, with a distinctly different atmosphere than the one that permeates mainstream accounts about Southern Italy.

The first territory to be explored was the Calabrian inland, a natural beginning for such a journey. The hinterland of this region, characterised by impressive mountain massifs like the Aspromonte and the Sila, is sadly known for offering a secure hiding place to many kidnappers in the past and for being a stronghold of organized crime, the ‘Ndrangheta.

The common thread running through this visual research - the path along the Southern Apennines - touches upon the authenticity of people and places. The geographical context is composed of ethereal, almost timeless environments, while the portraits evoke a sense of solidity and of belonging, of staying true to one’s roots. The themes of religious tradition and cultural heritage are also explored. The aim of the project is to conjure a non-stereotypical portrait of Southern Italy, as opposed to the mainstream representation presented in the news, often focused on crime and mafia issues only.

This is a story about the South from the perspective of those who remain, who decide not to leave and stay on to live in these territories. A story about the hinterland, its landscape and the hardness of its territory as a metaphor for life, and for what these places represent in contemporary Southern Italy.