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27.08.2019

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The Phlegraean Fields close to Naples are considered one of the volcanic regions at highest risk in the world. It is true that the largest eruption happened 40,000 years ago, with further massive ones still thousands of years past; however, this part of Campania, covering an area of over 150 square kilometres, is in a constantly unsettled state even today. The fields begin at the western edge of the city of Naples, continue to the Mediterranean coastline, then stretch under water all the way to the islands of Ischia, Procida and Nisida. Numerous volcanic edifices, effusive gaseous manifestations, areas of hot terrain, and regular, small earthquakes are clear signs of on-going, underground activity.

Even so, the region is densely populated, with around half a million people living in a state of constant threat, and it is precisely these feelings of insecurity and latent danger that Caimi and Piccinni manage to capture in their images. Whether the surveillance monitor at the Vesuvius Observatory, a cross on the wall of a home for the elderly, an apparently peaceful landscape, or a steaming field, the reality of living with a super volcano is always evident in the motifs. The series is interspersed with portraits of local inhabitants. Serious expressions prevail. However, the people are used to the situation and try to come to terms with the constant seismic activity.

“Life on the Phlegraean Fields is a mixture of anxiety, hope and resignation, in a unique blend of emotional and geographical landscapes, where the connections between humans, nature and God is under the spell of the Volcano,” is the way the authors describe the atmosphere. The outcome is a refined photo essay of impressive images of life under particularly unique conditions, where visual associations document the threat to and fragility of everyday life there. (Ulrich Rüter)

The Burning Plain. 100 copies.
56 pages, 39 black and white photographs. 15.4 x 21.6 cm.
Printed by Grafiche L’Artiere. Zine Tonic editions

Jean-Marc Caimi and Valentina Piccinni

The two photographers have been working together since 2013, developing projects that concentrate, on the one hand on documentary, and on the other on personal photography. Their work is published regularly in the international press. Piccinni and Caimi have published three previous books: Same Tense (Witty Kiwi Books), Daily Bread (T&G) and Forcella (Witty Kiwi Books), a comprehensive oeuvre about the Mafioso district in Naples. In 2017 they received the Gomma Grant (UK) for Best Black and White Documentary for the project This Land Is My Land, dealing with the fading, rural culture of southern Italy. With Rhome, which also appeared in LFI 6/2018, they won the 2018 FUAM Photobook Award. In 2019, The Burning Plain won the Zine Tonic Award.

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