Over summer vacation, when we’d return to our village along with so many other families who’d emigrated abroad, our first taste of home was the arancini we ate on the ferry crossing from the Italian mainland to Sicily. We were welcomed back by the golden statue of the Madonna, the patron saint of Messina, visible from afar on the other shore.
It wasn’t till much later in life that I began taking an interest in the coastline around Messina, which has been of great geopolitical importance since ancient times. The Italian mainland is so close here that whole generations of locals have been obsessed with the idea of building a bridge between the Calabrian and Sicilian shores. This gigantomaniac and highly controversial bridge project was announced by Mussolini during the war and fleshed out by Berlusconi during his term as prime minister. It has been repeatedly thrashed out, planned out… and then ultimately rejected. It would be the world’s longest and tallest suspension bridge – and built on sandy, earthquake-prone ground. To some, this prestigious undertaking would symbolize Sicily's economic upswing; to others, it hangs like the sword of Damocles over the region and the whole country.
I myself was fascinated by that bridge that’s not on any map, so I began photographically documenting the coast in 2005. The result of my long-term project is a portrait of a region at a standstill, waiting in a state of indifferent, frustrated or hopeful anticipation. This photo essay documents the transformation and hesitant attempts to refurbish the (sub)urban coastal stretches, and shows locals in their workaday lives, such as fishermen, whose earnings from swordfish hunting have long since ceased to be enough to live on.
NO PONTE seeks to show how something’s absence affects us as much as its presence would. If the bridge is ever built, I won’t include any pictures of it in this series: I’ll take the last shot when they lay the foundation stone.
— Giuseppe Micciché