“The panorama-city is a ‘theoretical’ (that is, visual) simulacrum, in short a picture, whose condition of possibility is an oblivion and a misunderstanding of practices.” (Michel de Certeu: Walking in the City)
The Sassi, the ancient cave dwellings of Matera, has been dominating the perception of the city throughout history. After the extended period of urban modernisation, people were moved out, and the Sassi remained a spectacle, a “panorama city”, with only historical records of everyday life. Life happens elsewhere, in the graceless modern neighbourhoods, that even their inhabitants consider featureless and not worthy of attention. It is, however, in these quarters that one can find the fragmentary and inward-turning histories of the people who live in Matera. In de Certeu’s terms, they are now the places of the “other”, of the non-dominant, fleeting, living spacial practices.
Walking in these neighbourhoods became the basis for unGuide. Walking alters the perceived spacial organisation of the city, it allows a granulated view, showing shadows and ambiguities within, and opens up the possibility for new social models, different cultural conventions, and personal factors to be activated, which can in return change the city itself.
In the case of Matera, even historical landmarks fell into oblivion – the economical development of the city since the 18th century can be traced to these quarters on the periphery. The intellectual elite has been fighting for years to preserve some of the industrial monuments that mark the economical history of Matera, the various mills and pasta factories. However, no proper historical research has been done and therefore most of the knowledge with regard to the history of Matera’s quarters other than the Sassi exists currently as “rumour” and “myth”. There is very little that can be found written down.
Combining this history with fabricated tales, unGuide takes people on a walk, weaving ignored or forgotten buildings, hidden corners, and unused spaces into stories that may or may not be true.
Remains of an old tufa quarry.
Unused building in front of the Barilla Mill.
Trash in the front garden of an unused building.
Sculpture in the new square in Piccianello.
The closed Barilla Mill.
Molino Alvino, from the back.
Piccianello market, from the back
Ruins of a building typical of the region, Piccianello.
Graffiti on the front of Moulino Alvino.
Cava del Sole, the unused quarry-turned-concert hall.