“TombStone on Street – Everyone sleeps on the Hill” is the title of the exhibition of photographs of Simeone Ricci that collects images of epitaphs along the Italian roads.
The exhibition is located in the second edition of “ART KM 0” Corviale (Rome) and is a study of plaques placed along the streets that bear witness to the many Italian road accidents.
Initially this work was born as part of a road safety campaign but the depth of what Simeone Ricci (www.simeonericci.com) found convinced him to further his research. These stones were laid by the families of accident victims in memory of what happened to their loved ones.
“The first time I photographed I thought I would find sentences of death. But, I was dazzled by that tombstone, apparently cold and frosty, an apparent symbol of death and loss of loved ones. Yet behind I sensed an infinite world. The closer I got, the more I realized that there was not only grief and pain, but a desperation to live”.
The richness of the verses reminds on the one hand epitaphs left by the ancient Romans along the Via Appia and on the other texts of the Anthology of Spoon River by Edgar Lee Masters. A hug between continents and eras that sums up the life of this Roman photographer who has spent many years in the United States.
“I have lived many years in New York, without having ever owned a car since I resided in Manhattan, where hardly anyone has one. So I began to drive again on my return to Rome. As I drove, I noticed that our streets were littered by these tombstones. Often while I noticed, someone cut the road, did not respect the priorities, did not signal a lane change or was talking on the phone while driving. So out of curiosity but I think more as a form of attraction, one day, after dropping my kids at school, I stopped in front of one of them. I then spent every day in my quest.
A thirst for life.
So not the simple desire to resurrect someone dear, a relative, a brother, a friend, now lost forever. There was a real regret of the past that no longer exists. Yet there was life going on unceasingly. Life tied to that moment precise, subtle, but now part of the past.
There was this, but there was also the future.
However, there were also a tragedy on speaking only when you want something. Forms of fatalism and immortality related to our Catholic culture, of irrationality and challenge of danger, desire to buzz, to overdo. I realized that most of the tombstones were boys or girls under 30.
For this I thought to Spoon River and I have not stopped to photograph. I wanted to express the colours, their explosion of vitality, hidden behind the dull and dreary surfaces. No pain, but the joy that life goes on, regardless and in spite of everything. I wanted to show people, but especially to children, that when we drive a car, a motorcycle, a scooter we can potentially driving a lethal weapon. When instead we should be driving a “machine” of life, but even more one of freedom.”
The photographs in the exhibition were projected during theater performances of “The Glass and the Soul”, loosely based on the story “120! 140! 160!” from the book, “Send me to say” by Pino Roveredo.