Pierfrancesco Lafratta

Taranto, beyond italian steel
Location: taranto
Nationality: Italy
Biography: Based in Taranto, southern Italy, as freelance and independent photographer. I'm interested in exploring the human behavior, relationship between groups and individuals, focused on social, humanitarian and geopolitical issues. Available for... read on
Following the stop of production and social activities to prevent contagion from Covid19, the planet lives the same circumstances that a city in southern Italy, Taranto, has been experiencing for years. The paradox lies in the choice between health and work, between life and the need to produce. The inhabitants of Taranto understood it in 2012 when Judge Patrizia Todisco spoke for the first time of “environmental disaster” referring to the former Ilva. The iron and steel company once and a half the size of the city has never stopped producing despite the legal blockings. Taranto is trying to emancipate itself from the industrial economy that has conditioned it in the last century. The city is now focusing on tourism, culture, food, wine production and trade. Thus, the Covid19 emergency amplifies the critical issues of a labour market that in Italy lives on the precariousness of fixed-term contracts and generates new poverty. These are the stories of a concert hall owners in the neighbourhood of Porta Napoli, an area of the city that once was the centre of fishing-related activities. The Adriano’s eyes, owner of the oldest theatre in town; those of Father Nicola, parish priest for 40 years in the Tamburi district, the neighbourhood closest to the iron and steel factory and the most compromised by industrial poisons. The voice of those who bet on the old city, marked by abandonment: Cataldo and his fishermen colleagues; Ernesto, owner of a B&B; Fabio, who runs a barbershop; Giovanni, with his touristic tours in Apecar Calessino, the characteristic Italian three wheels’ vehicle. Then there is Tecla, a shop assistant in a clothing store who has recently been fired; her partner works in the city’s COVID hospital. The life of Erika, an actress, and Walter, a film property master and a musician. They had been working for many years in the steel industry. There is also the story of Federica: she was a restorer who is now a baker and was sent home because of Covid19. That of Ilaria, a circus performer, now without money or either government assistance. Finally, the eyes of Annalisa and Marco, owners of a barbecue restaurant that they just opened and it is now at risk of closure. There is then the take-away restaurant of two ex-Ilva workers, their redemption from the factory life, that has not been inaugurated yet. Even San Cataldo, the patron saint of Taranto, was unable to bless his community neither with the traditional religious consolation nor with the vital tourist and commercial appeal that the historic procession at sea used to determine.

Full article by Marina Luzzi

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