Book tip: No Ponte

November 8, 2023

Planned for decades, yet never brought to fruition: a photographic essay by Swiss photographer Giuseppe Micciché on the idea of a bridge between Sicily and the Italian mainland.
A beautiful dream. Or maybe a delusional and money-wasting nightmare? The construction would have produced the longest and highest suspension bridge in the world to date – built, however, on an earthquake-threatened and sandy foundation. The crossing of the Strait of Messina, the narrow stretch of sea between Calabria on the Italian peninsula and the island of Sicily, was always of significance; the distance between the two shores along the 32km strait, ranges between just three and eight kilometres. Once promoted by Benito Mussolini, during the Second World War, the very controversial bridge project re-emerged during Silvio Berlusconi's term of office, and concrete plans were made. This megalomaniac prestige project was repeatedly discussed and planned, but finally discarded – not least, due to the 2011 refusal of the European Union to provide funding. Most recently, proposals put forward by the new ultra-right Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, were given attention in the spring; and Matteo Salvini, Minister for Sustainable Infrastructure and Mobility and Deputy Prime Minister in Meloni's cabinet, announced the beginning of construction for next year.

Distancing himself from any obsessive political explanations, Swiss photographer Giuseppe Micciché has focussed his long-term project on the places that have been affected by the potential plans to build a bridge. Born in Winterthur in 1971, and living today in Zurich, Micciché also has a personal connection to the subject, as part of his family comes from Sicily. “When returning to our village during the summer vacations, like so many other families who had emigrated abroad, the arancini we ate on the ferry from mainland Italy to Sicily was always the first taste of home. Visible from afar, we were greeted from the other shore by the golden Madonnina, patron saint of Messina,” he remembers. Many years later he began to take a photographic interest in the region: “Fascinated by the bridge that does not appear on any map and hovers above sea level like a mirage, I began photographing this piece of coastline in 2005.”

Micciché’s images speak of a land at a standstill. Presented in a fine, high-gloss, large-format book, the desolate architectural scenes, street and harbour views, inhospitable beaches, fences and walls with protest graffiti, and the few people who put in an appearance, seem all the more lost in contrast to the shiny paper. Everything seems to be waiting for the promised change – which will probably never come. The photographer has found the perfect melancholic motifs to convey this longing. “No Ponte is an attempt to photograph something that does not exist; it is an essay about how the absence of something can affect us just as much as if it were actually there. No picture of the bridge will therefore ever be included in this series. I will shoot the last photograph if and when the first cornerstone is laid,” Micciché explains in his foreword.
Ulrich Rüter
All images on this page: © 2023 Giuseppe Micciché

Giuseppe Micciché: No Ponte+-

NO PONTE_RZ_cover_622x282

156 pages, 70 colour pictures
27.5 × 29.5 cm. Italian/English
Edition Patrick Frey (Nr. 343)
Book design by Vieceli & Cremers


Book tip: No Ponte