Inside the red zone: the Morandi Bridge seen from below

1,182 is the length in metres of the viaduct over the Polcevera, Genoa, and also the title of the new book by Alessandro Cimmino and Emanuele Piccardo, who use photography as a tool for measurement and observation.

The collapse of the Polcevera viaduct in Genoa was one of the most tragic events of 2018 and, consequently, also one of the most discussed, spectacularised and instrumentalised media cases. Italy – and beyond – has come to know the engineer Riccardo Morandi, the architectural elements of the infrastructure, and the hypotheses about the technical causes of the collapse.

Despite the overexposure of this work in the media, with millions of images circulating in newspapers and on web portals, three years later it is possible to find an unprecedented (photographic) account. This is thanks to two authors – Alessandro Cimmino and Emanuele Piccardo – who explored the red zone around the bridge during the entire demolition phase and portrayed the work from new points of view. The result of this investigation, which began in September 2018 and ended in December 2019, has resulted in a photographic book entitled 1182 and published by plug_in.

Cimmino and Piccardo are photographers and architects, the latter is a citizen of Genoa. With two separate and complementary photographic paths (both technically and thematically) they recount the last phases of the infrastructure designed in the 1960s. This book was a way for them to meditate on the transformation of the landscape but also to grieve: the viaduct was in fact a work dear to all the people of Genoa, and considered much more than a simple road link.

The two authors avoid showing the most spectacular and popular shots: those of the demolition or the most significant phases of the new bridge designed by Renzo Piano. Instead, they show us the life at the base of the pylons, its relationship with the built environment and the artefacts preserved in the Prosecutor's Office warehouse. In some sequences we see the viaduct slowly disappear, while in others the monumental features of Ponte Morandi are enhanced.

1182 portrays a piece of landscape, its transformations and complexities, not by passing judgement but by providing new food for thought. It teaches us to look more carefully, that often a thousand photos shared in haste are not worth a thoughtful snapshot.

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