About This Project



But where does the journey end?


Massimo Siragusa’s journey in the Roman suburbs maybe began on 2 April 2017. Maybe. So he writes at the beginning of his story but he knew the suburbs before, not forever (he was born in Catania) but for a long time. He’s used to accepting the coexistence of ruins from the Roman empire with the sad condos of the 60’s, the roads transformed into car parks, the trees that insist on wanting to grow


He watches, for years, then at some point he sees. Or the opposite: he had seen and now he watches. And he decides that he has to recount with his favorite means of communication. And he sees the illegal hoardings, the jumbled billboards, the graffiti and those trees which insist on growing where maybe a small outlet or illegal garage could fit right in. His gaze becomes systematic and as time passes and with repeated journeys, becomes sharper, more and more investigative. He chooses to illustrate in color, “natural” colors, neither subdued nor emphasized, just as they are, as we too see them. And the signs accumulate, the drawings on the walls and shutters proliferate, the anarchy of the unplanned, contrasting buildings becomes the rule.


Freedom for all seems to be the inspiring belief in this corner of the world. Freedom to add doors, fences, signs, to mix public and private, to invite to buy or sell, or rather to shout that buying and selling there, is really good. The sign “hardware store” is repeated ten times, always differently, and almost becomes a hymn to creativity. The photographic journey in the suburbs becomes a kind of road movie, fascinating and persecutory, which forces you to see and understand and reality becomes a metaphor, hyperbole, a catalogue of shapes, colors, eccentric personalization.


Siragusa uses a language which is halfway between the impassive documentary vision and the engaged photojournalistic approach. He’s given himself a bulimic rhythm, never sated, which drives him to accumulate images upon images. His suburbs don’t need names, they chase each other different and alike, they are the limit, the margins of a metropolis which can expand or implode, which has developed regardless of the constraints or suggestions of any urban planning law, of respect for colors or other people’s spaces. We know it’s Rome because surreptitiously, now and then, statues or columns emerge which remind us, and yet we could not be anywhere else. Something in the air, in the light, but above all in the amused anarchy which disregards proximity, history, memories, future projects, it confirms where we are. These are the suburbs of a city where everything is possible and everything is impossible, where we can put a Roman soldier in front of a unisex hairdressers, where in the same building you can choose a different mailbox, as you please, where asbestos tiles and wrought iron can coexist.


Siragusa writes a new chapter in reinterpreting cities. He invents a different language to that used recently. He forgets the delicate colors which characterized his “Cities” or the “Teatro d’Italia”. He still has his kindly ironic eye but here reality dictates the rules. He respects a fair distance, avoids human presence but accepts the obsessive presence of cars and also, why not, speed boats. He records the attempts to carve out vegetable gardens and vegetation from the cement and is still fascinated by the symphony of yellows, reds and orange that crowd the view. He does not judge nor comment, he records and lets the accumulation of shapes and colors tell a story that he has not created but just assembled. Gyms, tire shops, fruit shops, bathroom fixtures, garages, hairdressers, outlets, billboards of all shapes, sizes and colors, but also Madonnas, crucifixes, eagles, giraffes, cows, sheep, angels and penguins inhabit this multicolored world: Marco Maria Sambo, on page 282, defines it “patchwork poetry” and the synthesis is perfect. And yet a journey into Siragusa’s photos requires reappraisal and reconsideration, one viewing is not enough.


Every single photo is complete, composed lucidly, but it’s just one element which goes to compose a symphony in which are interwoven a cacophony of sounds and colors, thoughts and invitations, signs and advertising which confuse our perception. Tommaso Giagni’s young insomniac wanders around at night in an unidentified suburb, “where everything has come up confusedly” (page 278). In Siragusa’s photographs daylight hurts the eyes and everything that “has come up confusedly” is before our eyes, with its striking intermingling and overlapping.


Nothing has a symbolic value, each thing is just a symbol of itself, with no possible interpretation if not that which could come from a paroxysmal accumulation of details. Photography superimposes on reality two-dimensional geometries which reality doesn’t know, but it offers no way out and, on the contrary, freezes and elicits questions. Maybe it would like us to be given answers. Maybe.


Giovanna Calvenzi

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