• Fastidiosa by Caimi + Piccinni
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Jean-Marc Caimi + Valentina Piccinni


An unfiltered, personal and intense account of Xylella, the plant epidemic that threatens Europe; Fastidiosa is the result of Caimi + Piccinni photographing the plight of local farmers and environmental devastation in Puglia, southern Italy, over a period of six years. Working under the project title This Land is My Land, the duo were in the groves with farmers facing the destruction of their history, culture and livelihood, as they were forced to cut down heritage olive trees to prevent the spread of infection into northern Europe. Millions of trees have already been felled, and there is no known cure for the disease. Fastidiosa features a dramatic mix of black and white analogue portraits and landscapes, colour images highlighting scientific research and experimental efforts, with archival photographs and words from residents of the region.

FIRST EDITION Softcover, 16.2 x 21.6 cm, 228 pages
Mixed art papers with one double fold-out; Section-sewn, exposed binding; silver-printed dust jacket
234 images and illustrations; Booklet insert, 28pp addendum of interviews with farmers
Published January 20, 2022 | ISBN: 9781999446888

See also: FASTIDIOSA Print Edition


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

The Author

Jean-Marc Caimi and Valentina Piccinni are collaborators since 2013, working on documentary and personal photography projects. They focus on contemporary subjects, with a particular attention to human aspects of each story. Their work regularly features in press and media worldwide including The Guardian, Der Spiegel, Politico, Le Monde, L’espresso, Internazionale, Wired, GQ, Newsweek, The Sunday Times and more. They have received awards such as the 2020 PHmuseum Of Humanity Grant in the solo show category, the 2019 Sony World Photography Award in the ‘Discovery’ category, the 2018 Istanbul photo book award, the 2016 Gomma Grant for best B&W documentary work. They exhibit widely throughout Europe and Asia, having featured at Biennale Für Aktuelle Fotografie (Mannheim), Delhi Photo Festival, Lumix Festival (Hannover), Fotoleggendo, Phest and Voies Off in Arles. Previously they published five books including a trilogy on cities in transition: Güle Güle (Istanbul), Forcella (Naples) and RHOME, which was shortlisted for PHotoESPANA’s Best Photobook of the Year in 2019. Güle Güle received a special mention for the 2019 Kassel Dummy Book Award, was a finalist for the Luma Rencontres d’Arles Dummy Book Award and was shortlisted for the Arles Author Book Award in 2020. www.caimipiccinni.com

Reviews + Press

“…the photographs could so easily have amounted to little more than an editorial piece for a magazine. However, Caimi and Piccinni have elevated the story into an intense piece of research, and much more than the sum of its parts. The skill with which Tiffany Jones (from the excellent Overlapse) and the two artists have merged the many disparate threads together into one cohesive whole is extremely impressive, and together they’ve made a book which is challenging while rewarding multiple viewings. What more could you ask?”Mark Power, Photographer and Magnum Photos Member

“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.”

See more:
The Nearest Truth Podcast, interview
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)

Special Notes

*Shortlisted for the Fotobus Society Library Award 2024
*Photobookstore Photobooks of 2022 – Selected by Mark Power, Magnum Photos Member (UK)
*Photobookstore Photobooks of 2022 – Selected by Martin Amis, Photobookstore Founder and Publisher at Photo Editions (UK)
*Photobooks of 2022 – Selected by Ola Søndenå, Department of Special Collections, University of Bergen Library (Norway)
*Selected 10 photobooks of 2022 – Moom, Bookshop in Taipei (Taiwan)

*Selected for Athens Photo Festival Photobook Exhibition, Benaki Museum, June 8 – July 24, 2022
*Selected Book of the Month (May 2022), Photo London Book Club
*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)

Events 2022
11 November, 3pm CET – Book signing at Polycopies, Paris aboard the Concorde Atlantique
12 October, 8pm CET – Fotodok Bookclub #31 presentation, Utrecht, NL
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)
Biblioteca de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid (ES)
The British Library (UK)
Central Institute for Art History Library, Munich (DE)
Harvard University Fine Arts Library (USA)
Northeastern University – Snell Library (USA)
Rhode Island School of Design – Fleet Library (USA)
Tufts University – Tisch Library (Bedford, USA)
University of Texas at Dallas Eugene McDermott Library (USA)