By Antonio Malara
There is an area of my city that I have always particularly liked, both from an aesthetic and symbolic point of view. It is a green space wedged between the high and low promenade. It is characterized by two round terraces overlooking the strait, by small paved avenues and by large centenary trees. Walking along the waterfront you see this space that remains slightly below and thanks to trees and plants plus the light given by the rotundas creates a beautiful effect with the sea and Sicily as a background. Here I took several shoots for my blog, and I almost always use this place as a background when I have to test a new camera (in fact I also have several photos of the site before installation). This is the aesthetic aspect, the symbolic one instead is personal, in fact it is from the large rotunda, called "Rotonda 8 Marzo", that I normally reach the low promenade during the summer nights. That round terrace for me has always represented the watershed, the star gate, where the quiet promenade (that of families with children and couples) ends and that of the clubs on the beach where you can dance until the morning begins. The stairs leading from the rotunda to the low promenade are 'the turning point' from then on, only fun where anything can happen. Unfortunately today it is so only aesthetically, there are always temporary places on the beach but everything is marked by decay. The new rules on the closing time of music together with the new generations who, being more "digital" have a different way of interacting and having fun, make them the negative protagonists of summer nights. I’m talking about Generation Z kids who go around all dressed alike and end up unloading all their pent-up anger and discomfort, with mega quarrels that see dozens of individuals present, right there where fun reigned.
Despite this, that place continues to be a special place for me. Last January while I was passing by there, I saw that the whole area had been fenced, as if they had to do some maintenance work. A few weeks later, when I returned, I saw it as before, fenced off but with no sign of starting work or anything like that. Speaking with a friend of mine, he told me that the area had been closed because they had to install a work by an artist. Even though I didn't know anything about the project, I was still happy because that idea could only improve the urban space in question, my hope was that they would be finished before summer began. At the end of February everything was as in January, then in March there was the lockdown and we all stayed at home until May. I'm not sure but it seems to me that they started with the works in June, in the meantime I discovered that the installation was by the artist Edoardo Tresoldi, the name didn't mean anything to me but looking for him on google I discovered that he was the person who had done " Etherea”in Coachella, I remembered that, as the fact that the author was Italian. The first news on the "subject" of the installation came in conjunction with the objects themselves or very high columns made of wire mesh. This was the artist's characteristic, to recreate architectural works that, thanks to the material he used for the realization, gave a three-dimensional effect. I saw this installation being born night after night, column after column as I passed by to go and meet my friends on the bars by the sea. Slowly the installation took shape and now it had a name, it was called "Opera". 46 columns about 8 meters high were scattered throughout the area, unfortunately the summer was almost over but the installation had not yet been inaugurated. One night while I was returning to my car I saw that the columns had been illuminated, even though the site was closed there was a photographer inside taking pictures. I realized that they were doing a series of photo-documented tests, which meant that the inauguration was near.
Finally on 12 September 2020 the mayor together with councilors and similar personalities inaugurated the site, I saw this on TV but I was not present that day. Personally, I saw "Opera" completed the first night I went out after the inauguration. The first impression was positive, the lights played a fundamental role in the three-dimensionality of the columns. There were a lot of people and I personally "studied" the installation late at night after 2 when there was no one around. Walking in the middle of the columns is very suggestive, they are positioned in such a way as to give infinite perspectives at every step. It was an “Opera” to be discovered, to be looked at from many distant points and also to be crossed. Thanks to this structure I have also noticed another positive thing in people. Initially, people took selfies just to get a photo with a new background to post on their useless social network profile. Unfortunately for them the photo was no longer original the next day, as every single citizen had their own version of the selfie with the columns behind. What I gradually noticed was that people began to admire and study "Opera", who touched the material, who lingered on a single column, in other words there was a magical touch created by the installation. The selfie mania had vanished, leaving room for the art of reflection. Even now I see people wading into “Opera” with curiosity, exploring it, studying it. I believe this was the artist's goal, as the plaque displayed near the columns states: "Opera is a monument to contemplation that celebrates the relationship between the place and the human being".
The funniest episode I saw during my walks to go and photograph the site was a gentleman who, together with a friend, walked all around to count the columns and check if they were actually 46. He probably missed one because he supported in an agitated way as he spoke to his friend that "one is missing", he had only counted 45.
Please Note: in the first part I deliberately took the same perspectives to show the difference between day and night. The last part of the pictures are taken with normal focal lengths (50 mm) to try to make people understand how the columns are seen live. The three series of pictures were taken with three different cameras and lenses.
Pictures: Antonio Malara
Cameras: Fujifilm XT 3-Nikon D3s-Nikon D800