Text by Michela Coslovich
All Images © Tomaso Clavarino
Tomaso Clavarino (b. 1986) is a photographer, visual artist and director who lives and works in Italy. Free from any predefined photography scheme and model, Tomaso develops a research methodology that talks about spaces, places and situations through an intimate and personal vision. Padanistan is a photographic book co-published in 2022 by Guest Editions (UK) and studiofaganel (Italy), edited by Peter Bialobrzeski with an afterword by Italian writer Gianluca Didino.
“For me, Padanistan is a desire to reconnect with a territory which I belong to, Northern Italy, a place that I do not know completely because I have always considered foreign, very repulsive towards me and I repulsive towards it. It is a territory which I belong to but that does not belong to me”.
As the author says in some interviews, the desire to work on the Po Valley arises from the need to return into a more intimate and personal photography after having dedicated himself to a complex work entitled Confiteor: an analysis of clerical pedophilia in Italy. Therefore, Padanistan is a need to return in a homely environment reconnecting to his roots and territories.
Tomaso Clavarino’s photographic project is a detailed visual narration of Po Valley’s territories through a journey along the axis of Statale Statale 11 Padana Superiore (SS11) from Turin to Venice, analyzing spaces, inhabitants and situations of Northern Italy.
The Po Valley is the largest flat area in Italy and represents the highest concentration of inhabitants and economic activities in whole country, including the area that extends from Western Alps to Adriatic Sea. From a collective (but not realistic) imaginary level, Padania represents the identity of a place characterized by huge factories, pollution, commercial spaces and places left to themselves. The term, which entered into political use in the nineties, identifies this territory under a possible secessionist and independentist key with the aim of unifying the whole territory of Northern Italy. Despite the political will, Po Valley has never actually been recognized and never really existed on a juridical, geographical and cultural level. So, what is Padania? Who is Padania?
Tomaso Clavarino answers these questions by giving a personal vision of this territory and recounting a journey that lasted almost six years. Completely disconnected from the stereotyped vision of these places, the project wants to give light to the real vision of a space that is too wide to be known and analyzed in its smallest details.
Landscape photographs alternate with portraits of people and locals: the relationship between nature and human presence is detached and people seem completely ephemeral within such an anonymous territory. The identity of the place that had been created over the years into the Padania area seems to have vanished now and, paradoxically, we find ourselves in a place that no longer exists. It is a story steeped in nostalgia linked to a strong sense of disorientation in which internal and external spaces are confused and mixed. We travel in a continuous contrast of images of a place where opposites seem to attract: progress is linked to tradition, multiculturalism to patriotism, the known to unknown. Page after page, the feeling is browsing the diary of a potentially infinite journey.
The result is a photographic atlas that contains ruins of a place continuously in search of its own identity. A beauty still exists, albeit hidden under the rubble of an abandoned industry, symbol of hope for a territory that continually tends to change.
The book is printed on Fedrigoni Arena Natural Smooth paper with a hard cover in canvas in which, on the back, is inserted a photograph of an old man intent on observing the emblematic landscape in front of him. Gianluca Didino’s text closes the book by adding an atmospheric charge based on the concept of non-place and its possible declinations within the context of Northern Italy.
160 Pages / 27×23,5 cm
450 copies / Hardcover casebound in linen cloth
Design by Thomas Coombes
Text by Gianluca Didino
Co-Published by Studiofaganel & Guest Editions
Released in July 2022