AFTER THE FLOOD — JOAKIM KOCJANCIC
When we talk about the 1996 flood in Versilia and Garfagnana, we do not know exactly what to call it: a “disaster” or a “catastrophe”? A catastrophe is the almost total devastation that annihilates or destroys places and individuals forever or for a long time; a disaster is still a sudden and destructive event, but one that enables communities, families and individuals to rebuild their future after the initial dramatic and shocking stage.
In these terms, the flood of 1996 was more a disaster than a catastrophe. The main difference was made by the aftermath of the flood, which has become an example of reconstruction not only of houses, roads and bridges, but above all of solidarity, human relations and collective behaviour. The ancient communities of Cardoso and its surroundings have remained in the places of the tragedy, where they have lived for centuries and where they have slowly rebuilt their connective tissue after the flood.
If a face is the mirror of the human soul, only a photograph can fix its pain or hope, depending on the time passed since the disaster. Photographs also have the unique power of narrating the story of a wounded land through the appearances and poses of its inhabitants.
This is why Joakim Kocjancic has collected images of a community that has been found again twenty years after the flood and has perhaps become, over time, more aware of the risks that still exist today. His images show the looks of people hardened by experience, with signs of sadness in the eyes of some of them. The photographs give us a sense of a timeless place or maybe suspended time between this and the last century. It is definitely the first work on the 1996 flood without images of destruction and reconstruction. There are no stories of those days, but the memory finally relieved many years later.
After any disaster, the problem is always the same: how to keep the memory of what has happened. It is not just a problem of historical culture or of celebration of an important and dramatic event to tighten the bonds of a community. Knowledge of the past and skills are especially useful for building more resilient communities to respond to potential geological hazards.
Keeping only the memory of the destructive event is wrong, since the images of terror and despair tend to be removed from the human mind or remain in a sphere of a nightmare or an unreal dream. We also need positive images and moments of collective reaction, not too detached from the flood, but consequent, to make the disaster a monster that can be defeated. The photographic work by Joakim Kocjancic can also be used for this purpose.
(from a text by Alessia Amorfini and Antonio Bartelletti)