On May 20th, 2012, at 4:03:52, a crack opened in the earth's crust under a village near Modena called Finale Emilia, where for more than a thousand years the territory of Emilia has ended and the rest has begun. Two huge blocks of land overlapped, sliding and crashing against each other, trying to steal each other's space, like fiery, claustrophobic giants. Sixty thousand and three hundred meters above, on the surface, the ground rose by 15 centimeters. The buildings' foundations began to swing, cracks made their ways through the plaster walls. It lasted for twenty seconds. Then the streets quickly filled with men and women in their pajamas, scared to death. All but seven, who would never come out.
In the following weeks, the earthquake rattled Bondeno, Mirabello, Medolla, San Possidonio and Novi. It reverberated everywhere in the provinces of Modena, Reggio Emilia, Ferrara, Mantova, Rovigo, Bologna. Over two months, 2,300 aftershocks left almost thirty people dead.
From this very dynamic land, there is nothing left but houses in ruins, factories crumpled and a society in shock.
A local international communication agency, Studio Blanco, is noticable for its talent to encourage artists, photographers, musicians, curators to create ads campaigns and cultural events. In these times of crisis, Studio Blanco contributed with what they do best: its director, Valerio Tamagnini, asked Anders Petersen to create a visual story to join together Emilia's faces and places, as if to ward off the possibility that the crumbling of the land could be followed by the crumbling of the people who lived on it.
Anders Petersen has nothing to do with these places, but has made raw and moving reportages about vulnerability for more than forty years. Over eight days in November 2012, Studio Blanco brought Petersen to toll roads and museums, riversides and devastated squares, letting him photograph wherever, whomever, however he liked, with the idea that only an outsider could find and capture the spirit that keeps these lands together.
A young contortionist, a knotty tree trunk, two elderly people dancing in a ballroom. One year after the earthquake, Petersen's photos create a small poem about Emilia, which sews up that deep crack and returns this land, whole, to the humanity that has always belonged here.
"I've never been here
I've never met this people
I've never been driving right
into a milk bottle
like we were when it was fog."
A project by Anders Petersen and Studio Blanco in collaboration with SlamJam and Fotografia Europea.