Paola de Pietri is a major figure in Italian photography. Apart from her recent collaborations to Fotografia Europea de Reggio Emilia and to main exhibitions of Linea di Confine, for which she realized several territorial commissions, Paola de Pietri has participated these past decades to numerous of exhibitions under the aegis of the most important Italian and European institutions dedicated to photography and contemporary art. She has received the prestigious Albert Renger-Patzch Prize in 2009 for her series To Face, and has benefited from several monographic exhibitions, one of whom in MAXXI in Roma. Lately in France, she has been exhibited in the Photographic Center of Ile-de-France (CPIF) in Pontault- Combault and in Musée de l’Image in Epinal.
In parallel with her last series, Istanbul New Stories - which addresses the transformations in Istanbul suburbs - and To Face - revealing the stigmata of the First World War on the Italian Alps’ landscapes - Paola de Pietri again focused on a landscape she often worked on, and which is very familiar to her: the Pô Plain, around Reggio Emilia. For this unpublished series, Questa Pianura (2004/2014/2015...), she roamed through this wide plain of her childhood, where she still lives and which remains an agricultural territory, even though it has suffered drastic transformations these past fifty years - between agrarian restructuring and intensive suburban development.
To make this « flat country » (Questa Pianura) visible, she took portraits of what is still living there: old farms remains and a few lone trees, that she chose to document through large images tinted with elegant shades of grey. This wide landscape, where the horizon in endless, seems haunted by the mankind history and by remote past, told through these abandoned architectures.
In contrapposto, in order to emphasize the ephemeral compared to the eternal: a few color images of the fallow nature punctuate her work.
« It is the Pô Plain. I have always known this landscape and its changes are closely linked to the economic development of the post-war period. Two series of photographs are intertwined in this project: the first in black and white and large format represents trees and now inhabited farms, most of them in ruins. Their arrangment in space is not aleatory, it reveals their past agricultural, economic and social functions, which existed only forty years ago.
To these « totemic » images of trees and houses are juxtaposed smaller format color images of shores, herbs, cultures, birds, wild flowers, etc., where the perception of the plain is linked to a sensorial, vital, disordered, atmospheric dimension and to the annual nature’s cycle.
From now on, I perceive these landscapes as the fragment of a speech whom it is not possible to find the meaning of, even if the disappearing, the loss and the ruin are obvious. Trees deprived of their function are free to develop following their natural anchoring and not in a utilitarian perspective anymore. »