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Alma Bibolotti


The Waste Land

“What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water.”
T.S. Eliot, ‘The Waste Land’

Earth warming is speeding up, climate changes have made some areas very vulnerable and desertification is a threat for several countries. According to a study carried out by the European Drought Observatory, the summer of 2022 in Europe was the driest of the past two centuries and the negative trend in precipitation observed since the beginning of this year is increasing the risk of desertification. Today, one of the most urgent problems in the last decades is touching more than 1/5 of the Italian territory, involving over 40% of the South, in those regions where agriculture and sheep farming strongly affect the territory settings. Among the regions mainly touched, Basilicata is mostly at risk: according to recent studies on climatic indicators of desertification in this region, almost 70% of its territory is potentially exposed to land morphogenetic processes which could determine a severe decrease in natural resources. In fact, in just one decade, the agricultural area has decreased by 12% and as we all know, fertile soil is very important to retain water.
The land studies which compose this series are the result of my exploration over the years of the Basilicata area of Monte Cotugno dam, the largest clay water reservoir in Europe. Because of soaring temperatures and a decrease in precipitations, the dam levels are falling and its bed is so dry that it shows the cracks caused by the receding waters and also the ‘skeletons’ of civilization. In this project, I try to express my emotional perception of ‘The Waste Land’, through visions characterised by a diaphanous rendering, as if they were plunged into an interior time which transfigures the idea of the menaced land.

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