THEMED AREAMassimo Berruti

The Land of Fires is conventionally known as a 1076 km² triangular shaped area, covering the surface between Naples and Caserta province. In reality, it is much wider. This region was the land that made the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle famous for being one of the healthiest in the world, a model for others, a place where the quality of products and food was well renowned far abroad. But today, farmers are migrating away, defeated by consumers’ distrust and legal troubles. Now, thousands of landfills, legal and illegal are concentrated in an area that used to be one of the most fertile of Europe. During the past three decades, The Camorra has buried tens of millions of tons of industrial, toxic and radioactive waste, coming from northern Italy and Europe, under regional authorities and a central government’s full-time blind eye. It is probably the clearest example of the effects that a historical agreement between the government and Mafia organizations, has imposed upon the population. And once again, it was made in the name of profit. 

Recently, a report of the Parliamentary Inquiry Commission on this case, including former Camorra boss Carmine Schiavone’s declarations, was declassified, opening a Pandora’s box of this deadly and criminal, behaviour after more than 15 years of silence. In this record, confirmed by well known epidemiologists and geologists, Schiavone declared that this land will soon start facing a holocaust-like event with “all dying of cancer” as we reach the point when these toxic materials begin to massively infiltrate aquifers, contaminating a major portion of Campania’s underground drinking water resources. 

According to the valuable opinion of Giovanni Balestri, a geologist also appearing in the declassified report above, the constant worsening of the situation will have a maximum peak in 50 years from now, with the likely evacuation of the region as a consequence of life degradation. In the perspective that the worst is still to come, people of every age, especially children, are already in the middle of a cancer epidemic. Ever increasing fertility problems have been documented.

The Agriculture-based economy is on its knees. After hiding this reality as long as possible, government indifference, and sometimes shameless denial about the magnitude of this issue, are now facing the rise of a long term resistance by the people. A growing network of well organized committees are taking to the streets and asking the government for a fast and transparent solution to be found and discussed. But so far, aside from all the promises, we can just notice that almost nothing, or very little, has been done in this direction.

Massimo Berruti (Italy, 1979) is a documentary photographer based in Rome. He spent almost four years working in central Asia, mainly in Pakistan, analyzing its contemporary history and involvement in the “War on Terror” as well as its its implications on the population. This extensive coverage became his first long-term project, recently named “The Dusty Path.” 

He approached photography for the very first time in 2003, while he was still conducting  his studies in Biology. In 2004, he started a full-time freelance self-teaching experience followed by two friends, also photographers, who invited him to participate in a collective project on the Italian cultural and economic crisis, a work published in February 2006 by Trolley Books in a volume titled Made in Italy. In October 2005 he joined the former Grazia Neri Agency, based in Milan (Italy) and has been represented by them for about three years. In the summer of 2008 he became a full member of Agence VU (Paris).

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