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Photographies by Stefano SCHIRATO

For years, Stefano Schirato has been involved in a large project focused on the link between pollution and diseases caused by unhealthy environmental conditions. In 2015, he started following and documenting the complex situation of the area called Terra dei Fuochi (Land of Fires), located in Campania between the provinces of Caserta and Naples, the most polluted one in the region because of the millions tons of toxic waste illegally disposed on this territory since more than 30 years. This is the biggest environmental disaster in Italy, and the recent report of the Istituto Superiore della Sanità (dated January 2016) provides an estimate of the impact of this scandalous criminal behavior on the population: compared to the national average, tumors in the zone of the Land of Fires are 11% higher in men and 9% higher in women. Terra Mala reveals the degradation of the territory by denouncing the conditions in which children, women and men are forced to live every day. Stefano Schirato documented the daily lives of dozens of families who are aware of the risks for their health they are facing.

In fact, Terra Mala consists of two continuously interpenetrating and diverging elements. On the one hand, it’s the story of a country tormented by malicious and underground pollution which often turns into a death sentence. On the other hand, it’s the story of its residents: the young children, the inconsolable but courageous mothers who march and protest unceasingly against this massacre, the sick people, struggling daily to stay alive, or else the teenagers who have lost their parents and claim a better future. All these people are united by the same destiny and an attachment to their origins which is so strong that even if we dared to ask them why they don’t move elsewhere, we would surely get an answer of the type ”And where will I go?”

Photographies by Ian VAN COLLER

Climate change has compressed and conflated human and geologic time scales, making it essential to find ways to conceptualize ”deep time.” My project, Naturalists of the Long Now, seeks to make notions of deep time comprehensible through visual exploration of glacier ice, as well as other earthly archives. Initially inspired by the 10,000 Year Clock Project of the Long Now Foundation, I have begun collaborating with scientists to make art that challenges viewers to think about the vast scales of geologic time—both past and future—that are recorded not only in the earth’s ice bodies, but in trees, sediments, corals and fossils.

In 2015, I was able to accompany a team of geoscientists who specialize in climate science related to Quelccaya Glacier in Peru. I was astonished at the endurance of these men and women. Every day they would climb to the summit of the glacier at 18,600ft, and then work over 10 hours straight, drilling ice cores, digging snow pits, and collecting data. It would be exhausting work at sea level, let alone at altitude. I realized I really had a lack of understanding of what the scientists were trying to do. Where the symbolic conversations in my ice portraits ended, the deep knowledge of ice possessed by the scientists would sustain and expand it.

Naturalists of the Long Now breaks down barriers between art and science, and creates a dialogue between text and image, landscape and viewer, expert and novice, past, present and future. My intention is that Naturalists of the Long Now is to encourage people to think in terms of longer spans of time, and consider what humanity will look like in 100 or even 10,000 years—instead of just considering our personal and immediate desires.

photographs by Stefano SCHIRATO, Ian VAN COLLER

From 21/09/2019 to 05/01/2020
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