Frontier people

Publish date 13-03-2022

by Luca Periotto

Inside a folder called "Africa 2" I found some snapshots of people and frontier places. This is a reportage that I made during a journey along four neighboring states overlooking the Gulf of Guinea, a language of land that includes Ghana, Togo, Cameroon and Benin. The same places from where the "slave trade" developed during the colonial epic.
Even if, thank God, any trace of the so-called slave ships seems to have disappeared, it still remains the starting point for many young people who hope to find a better future elsewhere where they can take root. In any case try to develop their dreams. My work has focused mainly inside the cities and its seemingly alike suburbs, not considering a dividing line between the various states, but behaving just like Stephen Shore did in his research on the US territory when he made, at the turn of the years '70 and '80, Uncommon Place (armed only with a small pocket 35mm camera), showing the face of an America in transition.

I too, this time on African territory, have looked for potentially symbolic signs that were able to overcome any prejudice. The eye that looks, in any case, it is not he who determines what is right to see or what no, so a blink of an eye can be equivalent to a shutter release. The portraits that I present are in any case the seal of a fortuitous encounter, people with whom I stopped to talk about this and that, as if I had met these people in any street of our cities.
Snapshots as a travel report. As Italo Calvino wrote in the preface to his book The invisible cities, cities are a set of many things: memories, desires, signs of a language. Cities are places of exchange, as all the history books of the economy explain, but these exchanges are not just exchanges of means, they are exchanges of words, of desires, of memories.

The city does not tell its past, it contains it like the lines of a hand, written in the corners of the streets, in the grilles of the windows, in the handrails of the stairs, in the antennas of lightning rods, in the flagpoles, each segment scored in turn by scratches, serrations, carvings, svirgole.

Luca Periotto
NP December 2021

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