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i© Luca Prestia.

Borders of S[s]tate
by Luca Prestia

Border: n.m. [from lat. border, neutral from adj. confinis «adjoining», compound of con. and the theme of ending «delimit»]. 1a. Limits of a territory, a plot of land. 1b. Limits of a geographic region or state; transition zone in which the individuating characteristics of a region disappear and those differentiating begin*

To photographically relate the border between two states is never easy. Unlike the frontier – that is to say the narrow strip of territory which is close to the border – the border is in fact something more blurred and difficult to detect and circumscribe both conceptually, and visually. Especially if, as in the case of Luca Prestia, the border to focus on is little more than an imaginary line hand drawn by man.
The boundary that separates Italy from France along the wide mountainous area of the Colle di Tenda is just that. Re-designed and established in the autumn of 1947, after months of intensive negotiations, it is recognisable only thanks to isolated boundary stones that since then dot the surrounding landscape between the Ligurian Alps and the Maritime Alps, precariously balanced between Piedmont, Liguria and the French region of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur.
Through these places, «we are in front of a space made of rocks and air – says the author – suspended between innumerable ridges, valleys, caves and peaks that seem to literally cling to a sky that on a sunny day seems to be made of cobalt». However, it is not only the nature generously offered by its landscapes to have moved Prestia during his wanderings among the so-called highlands. These areas – as almost all those marked by the presence of the border – are indeed places of passage and, as such, are often marked by a turbulent past, interweaving the stories of immigration and illegal emigration, of smuggling, of war, of disappointments and hopes.

They are transition zones, thresholds towards elsewhere sanctioned conventionally as different, alien, that bear, what is now a famous back cover of a book by Francesco Biamonti, Italo Calvino defined as the «pathos of the frontier». (1)
This makes it symbolically available to other readings, more intimate and all encompassing, the mirror of an existential condition that sees in the unknown something awful and fascinating at the same time, and in the very concept of limit, enshrined in the word border, a paradox. «The eye of the observer can thus enjoy a 360 degree vision without encountering obstacles – adds Luca Prestia – in a visual embrace that returns the things to their right order and recognises in nature the role it deserves, making the action appear ultimately exercised by man – with his illusory desire for control and demarcation – as a negligible, one of those things, destined not to last».

[ Stefania Biamonti ]


(*) - Free translation from Treccani dictionay (ed. online:
(1) - Francesco Biamonti, L'angelo di Avrigue, Giulio Einaudi editore, Turin, 1983.

i© Luca Prestia.

i© Luca Prestia.

i© Luca Prestia.

i© Luca Prestia.

The images that make up the project Confini di S[s]tato (Borders of S[s]tate) by Luca Prestia were recently collected in a book, self-produced by the author, printed in a hundred copies. The volume – bound with staples and a dimension of 21x21cm – consists of ten pages and was printed on Classic demi matte paper - Coated matte 300 gr plastic (cover) and on Classic demi matt paper - Coated matte 170 gr (internal).

The front cover of the volume Confini di S[s]tato by Luca Prestia.

i© Luca Prestia (4).

i© Luca Prestia.

i© Luca Prestia.

i© Luca Prestia.

i© Luca Prestia.

«Down there the sky gave off a stern light. He fell on the rugged path of the cliff where Jean-Pierre had approached the fearful border. And once again tried to see that face resting on the rocky bedside, a harsh delight that spread on the funeral stone, as if he had crossed the sad threshold, his heart freed from an ancient terror.
He went up, behind Edward, on the suspended path, shaking his head. He wondered why he had persistently chased that first impression and because now he was returning there». (*)

(*) - Free translation from Francesco Biamonti, L’angelo di Avrigue, Giulio Einaudi editore, Turin, 1983, p. 71.

Luca Prestia - Born in Turin in 1971, Luca Prestia graduated in Modern History at the University of Turin, where he also later obtained a PhD in the same discipline. Prestia began photographing as a freelancer in the nineties and, since 2000, is registered with the Association of Journalists of Piedmont. He has collaborated in the production of documentaries with a social background as a photographer and backstage, and his images have been used as covers of books and magazines and published in both Italy and abroad, as well as printed and online newspapers, including La Stampa, La Repubblica and For several years, his interest has been mainly directed to landscape photography and documentaries both analogue and digital. His latest work, completed in the summer of 2014, is Confine di S[s]tato, presented in these pages and now published in a photographic volume.


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The perception of the border
by Marco Monari

«One of the main problems of the art of walking is to transmit the experience in an aesthetic form. The Dadaists and Surrealists had not transferred their movement on to a cartographic base and avoided representation resorting to literary descriptions; the Situationists had produced psycho-geographic maps, but had not wanted to represent the real trajectories of the drift carried out»

Francesco Careri*

The knowledge that we acquire is typically that most related to everyday experiences. Living in a small town, like in the city, it promotes the development of established habits that also involve the visual perception of space on which we insist. Typically, this results in a lack of attention to those who take the aspects for granted, for example the ways in which our home territory is expressed.
Following the constant line of research on the manifestations of man-made landscapes, it inevitably arrives at the less visible, but more subtly incisive form of human intervention on the territory: the border. In their international declination, boundaries fulfil the task of defining the responsibilities of state intervention and, similarly, inside the national structures they allow the distribution of administrative logistics. And more or less we are all aware, at least in broad terms, how to sort out national borders, regional and probably municipal. The latter, in fact, unless you have specific interests, are probably less well known even if closer.
«At the end of long days involved in photo shoots – says Marco Monari on his website – the perception of these boundaries remain, as the awareness of the distance covered in its entirety».
A sort of testimony of how the transpositions of map-making in reality is not so immediate.

The reverse process, which leads, after having covered the places, to retrace the symbolic identity on the maps, perhaps is easier. The last phase of a rationalisation of the territory is not exempt from Dadaist and surrealist fascination. Despite the punctilious and almost obsessive meticulousness iconic geo-referenced withdrawals, the work is not without its implicit poetry. That the progressive awareness of the area that blends, step by step, with the awareness of the sense of belonging to the places of contact with the genius loci so often invoked. It is in the act of reunification with the starting point of the route (the first and the last shot) that in its entirety the reconciliation between man and landscape takes place. The moment when the space is confused with time and creates identity. Start and end lose their importance, and what remains of the itinerary (route) and what it is to who completes it.
«The points of departure and of arrival have an interest therein, while the intermediate space is the space of going, the very essence of nomadism, the place where we celebrate the rite of eternal wandering every day». (1)

[ Sandro Iovine ]


(*) - Free translation from Francesco Careri, Walkscapes, camminare come pratica estetica, Einaudi, Turin, 2006; p. 112.
(1) - ibidem; p. 18.

iThe map with the locations of the photographic reconnaissance aimed to represent the borders of San Bartolomeo in Galdo's council, in the Benevento's province.
The Map of the Locations of the Photographic Shoot is based on the IGM topographies – hence the symbology refers to this standard – where only the limit of the borders is highlighted. The various locations of the shoot are numbered pointing out the sequence, here executed clockwise. The locations collect references of the geographical data, the direction of the shoot, and with a fan shape, the portion of landscape that had been photographed.The lines of dusk and dawn are traced with green and orange colours, and the solar midday is traced with the colour red. These lines, together with the timings, give us an indication of the position of the sun during the day. The union of the IGM boards are indicated by the light blue lines.

i01 - Toppo Titolo: N41°26.035' E015°05.899' 954m. a.s.l. direction 195°.
02 - C. da Piano la Macina: N41°24.581' E015°05.289' 769m. a.s.l. direction 180°.
03 - C. da San Salvatore: N41°23.452' E015°04.984' 676m. a.s.l. direction 225°.
04 - C. da Castiglione: N41°22.786' E015°04.165' 769m. a.s.l. direction 240°.
Territory located in the municipality of San Bartolomeo in Galdo, BN (Italy).

i05 - C. da Piana Longa: N41°22.068' E015°02.619' 439m. a.s.l. direction 260°.
06 - C. da Barbetta: N41°21.738' E015°01.336' 418m. a.s.l. direction 330°.
07 - C. da Setteluci: N41°23.103' E015°00.988' 388m. a.s.l. direction 320°.
08 - C. da Torre: N41°24.051' E015°00.496' 514m. a.s.l. direction 310°.
Territory located in the municipality of San Bartolomeo in Galdo, BN (Italy).

i09 - C. da Toro: N41°24.553' E014°58.318' 393m. a.s.l. direction 344°.
10 - Passo di Castelvetere: N41°26.109' E014°58.159' 336m. a.s.l. direction 47°.
11 - C. da Codini: N41°26.241' E014°58.651' 331m. a.s.l. direction 40°.
12 - Toppo Rosso: N41°26.463' E014°59.196' 403m. a.s.l. direction 20°.
Territory located in the municipality of San Bartolomeo in Galdo, BN (Italy).

i13 - C. da Mucciacito: N41°29.164' E015°00.226' 550m. a.s.l. direction 110°.
14 - Toppo dei Morti: N41°28.939' E015°00.681' 604m. a.s.l. direction 118°.
15 - C. da Fosso della Calcara: N41°28.804' E015°01.081' 633m. a.s.l. direction 124°.
16 - C. da Sant'Angelo: N41°28.513' E015°01.359' 623m. a.s.l. direction 160° view from Toppo Titolo 124°.
Territory located in the municipality of San Bartolomeo in Galdo, BN (Italy).

i17 - C. da Borione: N41°26.947' E015°02.680' 589m. s.l.m. direzione 124°.
18 - C. da Cazzille: N41°26.662' E015°02.928' 607m. s.l.m. direzione 110°.
19 - C. da Moschiaturo: N41°25.966' E015°04.635' 769m. s.l.m. direzione 84°.
20 - C. da Acqua dei Cerri: N41°26.023' E015°05.665' 889m. s.l.m. direzione 80°.
Territorio sito nel Comune di San Bartolomeo in Galdo BN Italy.

Marco Monari - Born in Bologna in 1966, Marco Monari moved to the South of Italy, in Valle del Fortore in San Bartolomeo in Galdo, in the province of Benevento. Struck by the radical change in the landscape, he has dedicated himself over the years to the analysis of the photographic territories of Benevento, with particular attention to Bosco Montauro and the course of the river Fortore. His photographic interest also turned to the wildlife of the area and photographs from above, where he experimented with the aid of a kite.

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