Continuing through his remarkable photographic work centred on the urbanism and colonial architecture of the Fascist Twenties (in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Albania and the Dodecanese), Daniele Ratti this time remained in Italy. Together with Luisa Porta he decided to explore, in the Sicilian rural areas, another “colonial” reality, that of a fascinating constellation of semi-unknown and largely abandoned buildings.
These are the numerous villages built in 1937/1940 by the ECLS, the national institution of colonisation of the Sicilian latifundium. The research of the two photographers is not a systematic work about those architectural contexts but an experience that has above all the goal of grasping as far as possible the deep soul of places, far from everything, that seem to exist as suspended in an almost metaphysical space-time continuum. These are spaces and buildings in which the echo of the illusory optimism of the regime resounds desolately distant, and they often present themselves as melancholic and evocative minimal, hidden examples of anaesthetic of the ruins of the recent past, in a land like Sicily impregnated with marvellous ancient ruins.
The “Mussolini buildings” are always photographed in the most absolute solitude, even those that are in some way inhabited, because any living presence (as taught by Gabriele Basilico) inevitably draws attention to itself and distracts the gaze from the pure and clear vision of architectural reality. In this, of course, there is a precise formal intention, but the aesthetic formalism is avoided in so far as it is possible to make an authentic “portrait” of the buildings. People are absent from the scene, but their more or less distant presence can be perceived out of the frame.