My hometown Matera was selected on 17th October 2014 to represent Europe as the European Capital of Culture in 2019. As town dwellers, we found ourselves, albeit having chosen to support the application, to be overrun by tourists.
Matera has become a holiday destination comparable to Pisa, Rome, Venice and other Italian and European cities. So what is so peculiar about this? The thing is that we used to be a small town, tourists did not come here before, our town had been regarded a “national shame”. The Sassi used to be the lair of criminals and drug dealers, us youngsters were in fact forbidden to hang out in the Sassi and when we did, we would do it furtively. Tourists did not exist; occasionally an artist would pass by and become fascinated by this enduring prehistory, by the power of water that flows under this city, which had been said to be “similar to Dante’s funnel”…
After becoming a UNESCO world heritage site and having featured in the American film “The Passion” by Mel Gibson, Matera was finally back on the map, rising like a phoenix from its ashes.
And yet, on the one hand there is the sort of invisible tourist who materialize and wants to learn about a place that has been isolated so far; while on the other there is an invasion, because some tourists often do not come as keen observers, respectful of the inhabitants of Matera, nor as considerate and well-mannered guests, but rather on an “all or nothing” basis, the sort of greedy Sunday tourists travelling on a holiday package and passing by only to visit the famous Sassi, that in their memory before arriving, were little more than common beach pebbles.
Just like when I see a flower in the middle of a field: my desire towards that flower is legitimate, because a flower is beautiful, but if I pick it I kill it, I lose it for good. The sufficient distance from the object is a form of respect, and this respect allows us to truly love the object.
With this project, I am trying to capture the different attitudes shown by tourists, their semantic types, their approach to the territory, and face this task in a humorous way, without forgetting to show the changes that have occurred in my town as a result of this cultural marketing process.
Carla Cantore, was born in 1972 in Matera where she lives and works. She started working with photography in 2011 when she collaborated with the ARCI Bari for the Research Report on youth issues and political refugees matters. She became so involved that she decided to attend workshops on social and denunciation photography, photo features, portrait and conceptual photography. She also continued her training with courses in composition and visual perception held by internationally recognized photographers.