The second residency of Mediterranea Youth Photo program was held in Reggio Emilia, Italy, from October 12 to 18, a period partly coincident with the contemporary art week of Italian museums. The three artists – Federica Landi, Emeric Lhuisset and Ana Catarina Pinho – were allowed to use the facilities of Spazio Gerra, a public arts centre especially focused on young people creativity, as a working base to meet up and carry on the project started in Braga one month before.
The first two days were devoted to meet people engaged in receiving and giving shelter to migrants and refugees, and these same people, mostly coming from the other side of the Mediterranean Sea. Rania Abdellatif, working at Policies for Solidarity Economy, Social Housing and the Intercultural City office of Reggio Emilia town council, outlined the policies and actions aimed at promoting and supporting the practice of solidarity economy and social housing. Along with an employee of “La Dimora di Abramo” – first cooperative company in Italy to deal with immigration, from emergency care needs up to social inclusion of foreign nationals – they visited some houses that host refugees. This was a strong and very challenging experience for the three artists, both on the personal and professional side. Ana Catarina Pinho, in particular, involved a number of these people in a playful activity about their origin and their journey to Italy susceptible of interesting developments in her art project.
The following day the staff of Fondazione Fotografia in Modena welcomed us for a guided tour of the exhibition “Lying in between – Hellas 2016”. The Foundation, in close collaboration with non-governmental organisations, associations and institutions, sent seven Italian photographers to Idomeni – on the border between Greece and Macedonia – and the Greek islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos, which have become the emblem of the division that exists between the Western world, intent on self-preservation, and another world, looking onto Europe yet caught up in civil and religious wars.
The artists had also the opportunity of having a conversation about their ongoing work with Paola De Pietri, a widely recognised artist photographer born and living in Reggio Emilia, recipient in 2009 of the Albert Renger-Patzsch Award for the book “To face”, about the traces of WWI still present along the Austrian-Italian borders.
The residency, of course, was also a chance for artists and curator to discuss the latest developments and outlines of the project, converging to an attempt at giving a visual consistence to invisible dramas and sociopolitical phenomena crossing the Mediterranea Sea.
Next and last step: Paris.
Daniele De Luigi, curator of Mediterranea Youth Photo