is a photographic project born in 2013 to tell the difficult survival of artisan shops and small family-run businesses to the change imposed by globalization. Only some of these places, which for generations have handed down their craft, resist characterizing the uniqueness of the urban landscape.
Cities are undergoing a continuous process of gentrification, homologating and losing that element of identity that distinguishes and makes each place unique. Old traditional neighborhoods that represent the experience of entire generations of tenants are completely turned upside down. Investors and companies in the construction sector redesign the new geography of the city according to the needs of the emerging bourgeoisie, requiring the construction of modern shops, elegant premises and expensive lofts, luxury Hotels. The inhabitants, due to the increase in the cost of living, are forced to move, while social relationships are wiped out.Similarly, economic activities must adapt to the needs of new inhabitants: in many cases they are forced to close due to the increase in the price of rents and competition, as well as the progressive disappearance of regular customers. From a sociological point of view, Saskia Sassen demonstrates how inequalities are increasingly growing in the global city also due to the absence of religious, ethnic or social communities and relations. (The Global City)
I spent my childhood in Spoleto, Umbria, a town full of small shops and artisans who, until recently, were the beating heart of the economy. I loved spending time in the cobbler's shop or in the grocery store near my house where my grandmother sent me to do the shopping, places where the hours seemed to expand. I grew up in these streets where human relationships were the center of life. I soon realized that this dimension was disappearing pushed by a mysterious force, a new era was coming.
The emotional and poetic trace was condensed in the artistic research from which the Heroes photographic project developed. During the pandemic, many of these businesses were forced to final closure due to the lock-down, social distance, the increase in online sales, severely undermining an already compromised situation.
In my photographic research Memory and Time are fundamental elements: the memory of repeated and handed down gestures, the time of waiting, the attention to the habits and needs of loyal customers, the simple daily conversations, the hand-packed paper package. Rituals that might seem banal and obvious in our age. Places and subjects observed through the lens take the form of a Wunderkammer in which spaces and human profiles still communicate a sense of wonder, interstices of time in which every detail is full of meanings.
Temple guardians of a little vanishing world, brave and full of passion, they valiantly defend the meeting places for human exchange and relationships, set in unpretentious frames, nibbled by the passing of time.
Francesco Pergolesi 2021 ©