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I have always lived in Mestre, a place halfway between Venice and Marghera. When I was child my grandfather told me stories about his work at Montecatini, and I have a precise memory of the moment in which, putting the cofee pot in the burner, he told me he had retired.
Otherwise, for a long time, Porto Marghera was something distant to me: something I knew by the profile that stood out against the lagoon; something you saww every time you went from Venice to Mestre or viceversa. I heard talk about it, but the only image superimposed on what I had heard was the lunar one that contrasted with the profile of Venice on the other side of the bridge.
About ten years ago I started to wander about the industrial zone: initially for work and then becaus e of something between a pleasure and an anxiety. Something close to a romantic taste for ruins, united with something else of great affection, probably linked to y grandfather and to my having grown up nearby. When I begann this work sensation surfaced and I tried to identify them like one who associates one taste to another, interrogating myself and somehow deriving answers from chance.
One of these was furnished by the reflections of geologist friend who sustained that man wasn't threatening the world, only his life in it – the world itself was billion of years old and would regenerate from the present enviromental crisis to find a new equilibrium in which the brief appearance of the human race would hrdly leave a trace.
A few years ago I was commissioned to phtograph the Casse di Colmata: rhe artificial islands constructed in the seventies on the excavation materials from the canal dei Petroli, dredged so that ships could enter the lagoon from the mouth of Malamocco Port to reach the Port of San Leonardo and the industrial zone. It is an enormously vast, flat and wild area, populated by few hunters. The spontaneous vegetations is a product of the wind, which has mixed seeds of exotic garden plantswith those preexisting on the sand bars. It is here that the third industrial zone was to have risen,but the productive dream was shattered as, one by one, its presuppositions were diminished.
Remembering these old tthoughts, perhaps, one day as I was walking in the industrial zone a first hypothesisi came to mind: one of the reasons of my fascination was in finding myself in front of an image of a shattered dream: a beautiful title of Bergman's film comes to my mind.
I continued to walk around the old factories, without being able enter, and only rarely managed to see or guess what was beyond the wall. All of this would disappear very soon without leaving a trace. Anyone living in Venice or Mestre who hasn't worked inside Porto Marghera doesn't know it , unless they come here to fish. Phptography can capture this moment in an image of the factories is not about productive arrogance but rather the testimony of a defeated world in which time has run its course.
There is a special attitude that we generally reserve for someone privileged: judgement is pratically suspended and we are able to read cause and effects together, to decode attitudes like manifestation of something else. This profound interpretation impedes us to from putting labels on sensation we feel and the file.
Beginning to photograph Porto Marghera, I looked for a way to activate this suspension, something that's not natural for me because the period of the environmental alarm in which I live divides the world into the good and the wicked. It was then that the thought of my geologist friend and his very old world, capable of looking from a distance at even this present, came to mind.
Looking at Porto Marghera through this thought, my attention was captured by certain images that suggested the idea of passing time, of life that takes advantage of time to transform the state of things. That's how I began to work on the theme of “re-appropriations”: small sign of a life that continues, transforming itself.

Alessandra Chemollo
Written for the catalogue of the exhibitions
Venezia_Marghera XLVII Biennale d'Arte, Venezia 1997
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