Puglia, 8th – 21st December 2014.
Tuesday – Liberta market, chain rolls up, chain rolls down, I love you, I love you, wooden crates, radio plays, sex shaped cheese, loose biscuits. He shakes a blue basin full of fish.
She tells me about her father who poured tea from a great height into cups placed in a circle on the living room floor.
In the park care workers from Russia and Georgia, play cards, waves break, moped fires, a warm wind blows on my face. San Nichola, silenzio, whispered voice, walk quietly, the bones are downstairs.
Wednesday – A Trulli can be dismantled easily when the tax collector comes. Taranto is built on the bricks of an older town. They moved everybody out of their homes. The Mama of the courtyard. and us.
He holds his head in his hands. Is he praying, drunk, ecstatic, mad, ill, religious.
A funeral around the corner.
Thursday – In Tamburi we closed our eyes. At the beginning we had jobs and money, now we tell our children to leave, to find a better place to live. We take our brooms, we sweep our balconies, keep our windows closed, but still the red dust comes. We are already sick, white death. The factory changed our contracts, they kept the working hours unstable, 14,000 workers with an average age of 39. There’s 30% unemployment in this region, starve now or starve later we thought. The toxic waste was meant to go to France to be treated, but he buried it in the cave instead.
He moves like an insect the camera attached to his body.
Friday – The factory uses seawater to cool the steel. The sea bed is contaminated, it’s already too late for it to recover. We have moved the mussels to the other side of the bridge, 18 months to grow. Each family is a colour on the rope. Cod goes to Milan; Tuna to Japan. Work is on a day-to- day basis. It’s a military zone, below us sits an American nuclear submarine.
When we look for the factory on Google maps its so big we don’t recognise it. We want to get closer, but we get lost on the bus. A butcher offers us a lift, he leaves his shop and drives us all the way, just because we’re lost, just like that. Through the factory fence we see the huge chimneys pumping out smoke, red light, green light, red light, green light, a metallic taste in our mouths, red dust glittering on our hands.
Kids jump on the roof of the car, squealing in delight as their feet hit the metal.
We move together, each one knowing that a word spoken at the wrong moment can ruin the soundtrack. On the roof terrace we switch on our recorders and use our headphones to listen to the street below.
Saturday – Santa Lucia, the shortest day of the year. The north wind blows on our faces. Later we learn the names of the winds, Tramontana, Grecale, Levante, Sirocco, Ostro, Libeccio, Ponente, Maestale. We listen to the streets, peep behind doors, funk music plays as the disco lights up the wall.
Sunday – 14 farms were shut down, 2,018 sheep slaughtered, right here on the land, and then taken away to be disposed of in a radioactive facility. All my life I have heard the sound of sheep bells ringing, when the sheep were gone there was silence, complete silence, it was so silent no-one could sleep, not even the dogs. The soil is completely contaminated. Dioxin enters the food-chain, there are 30 times more toxins in the soil than average. They pay people to keep quiet, they bribed the chemists who analyse the soil. We go to court, but it costs money and people are frightened.
Monday – A shared key, a shared space, a shared responsibility. Children arrive for their music lessons, the Presepio in the church took a year to make, the priest in the bar, Limoncello, Tiramisu, language and gesture, Berlusconis’ TV, dogs, drums. Grandma decide if the oil is good or not, Antonio wants to be an actor, the smell of burning fires everywhere.
Wednesday – The bay is shaped like the horns of a deer, the pillars mark the road to Rome, Virgil died here, castles by the sea, the crusade, a long process of change. The chemical plant is 4 times bigger than the town, the chimney is too small, 80% of Italy’s power comes from this region, our crops are covered in dust, no-one will buy them from us, sometimes the company pays us not to sell them. Don’t tell the children. They diverted the underground streams, tube tape, a pipe line 15km long. We came to clean the beach, make a party, a mountain of coal lies under the sea. Revolution makes sunshine he says.
Thursday – Torre Guaceto, a place of clean water, nature reserve, breath the air, migratory birds, Flamingos and Starlings, sweet water, wind data, Inula viscosa, Salvadora persica, herbal tea, protected zone, the wind gods, Boreas, Eurus, Notus, Zephyrus. Re-population of fish, only 7 fishermen are allowed here, they use sustainable methods. Torre, a fire and smoke defence. We listen to the wind whistle in a bottle, cut the wind, cut the salt, it blows from Rome to Cyprus, the rose of the wind. Sea-grass 80 cm high, the sea rolls it around to make balls, Venus’s ear, cuttlefish bone, mother of pearl, cotton wool bud, dental floss, pocket ashtray. She asks us if memory can be shaped out of DNA? Can there be an inner map of the journeys we make, a migratory map in humans like birds? She told us of Albanian refugees, their lives lost on the rocks. Others survived and joined the picnic. She asks how environment effects people and how people effect their environment.
Friday – Pizzica, a dance the workers in the cotton fields used to do when they had been bitten by the Tarantula spider. Their feet in the water. Covered in water, they danced into a trance in order to sweat out the poison. Their bed sheets should not be touched. Later, research told us the spiders were not poisonous, but the people needed to dance, to let out their emotions, take a break from their life. Dance as protest, our feet pound the ground.