First discovered in the touristic Gallipoli region in 2013, the bacteria Xylella Fastidiosa has rapidly been killing olive trees in Salento over the past several years. The disease is spread by sap sucking insects and stops the flow of water and nutrients through the xylem vessels, causing trees to die from the inside out. In an effort to contain further outbreaks, EU authorities dictate that all trees within 100 metres of one affected must be destroyed, whether it is infected or not. The result is economic catastrophe in a region where olive oil production is the main source of income, which has now been cut in half, and farmers across Europe now fear an uncontrolled spread of the pathogen.
Thousands of farmers in Salento have lost their life’s work, and the devastating repercussions push beyond the environmental landscape to the daily lives of the population, causing the loss of their unique human and cultural heritage.
While no direct remedy to stop the pest and save the trees has yet been found, agronomists and scientists are researching solutions. In particular, experiments are underway using shoots of wild olive trees found still alive and germinating within Xylella-devastated areas, grafting them onto more productive tree variants in an effort to create a resistant ‘super-tree’ species.
Caimi + Piccinni have taken a passionate but careful approach to documenting this subject, exposing the farmers’ very personal stories with utmost concern for the tragic circumstances they are suffering. By interviewing the farmers, they give a public voice to their opinions and experience. See their multimedia video presentation (MP4) including discussions with farmers on their land. While photographing the region over the period of six years, Caimi + Piccinni lived in an olive oil mill and developed their films there.
Design by Tiffany Jones
Reviews + Press
“As art over the years has shown us, there can be intense beauty found in the most devastating circumstances.Sometimes the beauty emphasizes the darkness. Instead of beauty, you might call it eloquence. And this book is eloquent.” – Kenneth Dickerman, Photo Editor at Washington Post
“From the moment you hold the photobook in your hands, feeling its thickness and weight and thumbing through the various textured papers, you sense that the narrative ahead will be intricate and visually stimulating… The pages are heavy with angst and trauma, but conclude with a sense of hope.” – Izabela Radwanska Zhang, BJP
“Photographs of the olive trees themselves are among the most arresting shown. It is here that the starkness of the landscape is laid bare and that the wider context of the seemingly unstoppable climate catastrophe is brought crashing into the mix. Pollarded, burnt, blurred, shadowed, lit with purple or red-orange lighting, these once graceful, historic trees are rendered alien and useless.” – Anneka French, Photomonitor
This Land is My Land (Fastidiosa) was awarded for the 2021 RESET Open Call “for having created a photographic story with a strong emotional impact without ever giving up the dialogue between ethics and aesthetics. For having been able to develop a complex theme through an expressive power built on comparison, testimony, documentation and creativity. For having been able to highlight the causes of an environmental drama, paying attention to the feelings of humanity.”
British Journal of Photography (BJP) review by Izabela Radwanska Zhang
Photomonitor review by Anneka French
Washington Post review by Kenneth Dickerman, ‘Fastidiosa’: The devastating — and hopeful — story of Italy’s olive trees
Collector Daily review by Blake Andrews
Interview With Sky Arte TV (Italian)
Interview with Cine Sud Fotomagazine (IT)
Feature in Il Post (Italian)
Feature in Repubblica Espresso (IT)
Selected pre-release features
Interview, Rivista Studio
Feature in Beside
Feature in Le Monde (FR)
Feature in IL Magazine (IT)
Feature in Radar Magazine (IT)
*Selected Photobook of the Day – Photo-eye Bookstore, 17 February 2022
*Photobookstore Recommended – February 2022
* WINNERS of the 2021 Italian Sustainability Photo Award (ISPA)
* Gomma Grant Winner – Best Black & White Documentary Story for This Land is My Land (Fastidiosa)
* Caimi + Piccinni selected winners for the 2021 RESET Open Call with this work, (with the title This Land is My Land), and have several solo exhibitions in Italy: Si Fest (Savignano Sul Rubicone, Rimini); Festival della Fotografia Etica (Lodi, Milan); IMP Festival – International Month of Photojournalism – (Padova); Phest – (Monopoli, Bari); Locus Festival – (Locorotondo Bari)
30 March – Italian Book Launch at Leporello Books in Rome, 7pm
Fastidiosa is held in the following collections:
AGO Edward P. Taylor Library & Archives (Toronto, CA)
The British Library