Photographer and writer, Palumbo is a unique character in the Salento cultural landscape of the first half of the twentieth century. Either by bicycle, train or small gig, he explored Terra d’Otranto for fifty years, photographing the natural and human scenery, documenting and enhancing its sites, monuments, resources and productions.
A journalist and attentive scholar of the territory, he’s dealt with a great amount and variety of themes ranging from culture to popular traditions, archaeological and architectural heritage, collaborating with local and national periodicals. His first photographic images were before 1909: “to fix in the image the reminiscence of things which were already on their way to oblivion,” was the task he felt most dear to him... he had always done this in his long career as acute investigator of Salento popular culture, curious to discover and gather moments of labour and social life, the historical-architectural heritage and its natural beauties.
Visioni del Sud is a project of rediscovery, reinterpretation and development of the precious heritage of images collected by Giuseppe Palumbo, scholar and intellectual from Lecce, from the start of the 20th Century until the Fifties and donated to Lecce’s Sigismondo Castromediano Museum after his death. A body of work that because of vastness and setting is unlike anything on a regional level, and that made the author and his persona essential for scholars and aficionados of homeland history.
A journey in time on the look out for traces, public and private memories of the great photographer and the human landscapes that emerge from his pictures, made up of encounters and discoveries, unreleased documents and curiosities. This research takes shape as a exhibition-workshop dedicated to his work and the development of his archives.
The Torre Matta that hosts Visioni del Sud doesn’t stop at being just an exhibition: over the period of the show, it welcomes workshops that will involve photographers, film makers, artists, designers, citizens, students and institutions of the area, all invited to learn, re-elaborate and update the heritage of pictures from Giuseppe Palumbo’s archive.
To photograph places and people is a way of taking care of them, and preserving them from time’s disregard and abandon.
It’s a way of comprehending reality and transformations.
In this way Palumbo’s work is exemplary because it captures the most authentic moments of the culture of the time, portraying scenery, monuments, traditions and productive activities to recover the memory of a rural Salento that was heading towards modernity and sudden cultural changes, contributing to handing over the value of the Salento identity to future generations.
The Torre Matta (Mad Tower) is one of Otranto’s most evocative sites, one of the most complex and most interesting buildings in the city. It ends in the vertigo of a vacuum, a double volume that attracts attention to the comparison between the old cylindrical tower and the most recent square -shaped wall curtain. Its conformation caters to the need for defence from the firearms that emerged after the Turkish attack of 1480: during the clashes the entire medieval walls of the city were devastated and razed to the ground.
After the liberation, the following year, a large reconstruction site was set up. In the first phase of renovation, cylindrical towers called “rondelle” (washers), were used. In a second instance, the structures became more similar to true “casematte” (innocent-looking military houses with breaches to shoot through) and the original rondelle were replaced by a more effective strut for defensive shooting.
For centuries the cylindrical tower was left buried and submerged in earth and debris. Discovered just a few years ago, the Torre Matta was reopened to the public in 2016 as a result of major restoration and recovery operations - financed by funds from the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Tourism - with an articulated and patient process of protection and enhancement. This process, driven by a gradual and surprising unfolding, has brought to light a place that gives the impression of a journey into the depths of the Earth, a continual discovery of historical and architectural stratifications, in which Visioni del Sud’s arrangement becomes a device from which audio-visual anecdotes regarding the Salento folklore of the early 20th century can unravel. A dive from the Torre Matta into the sea of memories.
Fotografie di Giuseppe Palumbo - Salento (1907-1959)
May 24th to November 1st, 2017
Torre Matta - Otranto (LE)
May | September | October
10am - 7pm
June | July | August
10am - 12pm
mob. (+39)347.1040009 | (+39)0836 210094
available for purchase at the Torre Matta bookshop and at the ticket office of the Castle of Otranto
SPECIAL DISCOUNT: 3€ for groups of at least ten people, for children from 6-14, for pupils on school trip and owners of Otranto Card
FREE ENTRANCE: for children under 18 with parents, children under 6, disabled people and a companion, tourist guide (with group), accredited journalists