For almost three years, I have been working on a video-photographic research related to some Middle Eastern regions. On several occasions, starting from 2010, I've investigated the Afghan, Iraqi and Palestinian territories. In these regions, I spent long periods.

COLLATERAL LANDSCAPE fragments of landscape on the post war reconstruction borders

is a research project started three years ago through a video-photographic work regarding some Middle Eastern regions. On several occasions has begun an investigation into Afghanistan and Iraq. The starting point of Collateral Landscape is located in the video-photographic research work carried out by Antonio Ottomanelli since 2010 to present.

The photographic research began as investigation on the landscape of reconstruction in Afghanistan and changed over time in a collection of critical silent gaps, absorbing even Iraq and, as the last and critical chapter, the United States.

This forgotten landscape at the post war reconstruction time, is used as aesthetic palimpsest useful for a reflection on identity issues; across territories so faraway each other, discovers and displays critical and profound analogies. This landscape has lived through distinct conditions and is the object of a still open reinterpretation.

Photographic survey are displayed together with open workshop experiences in an attempt to orient through artistic practice, a critical two-way query on the question of identity, intended as consciousness of historical forces that determine a particular condition of existence and certain structures of social relations.

Mapping Identity is a project created during the months of the withdrawal of U.S. troops in a workshop with the students of the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Baghdad. This portion of the project was an important moment of reflection and work on “libertarians and independent” models of investigation, which constitute the study of forms of language representation and the construction of a precise information program.

All laboratory projects developed so far, keep behind the need to tell - starting from below and in the most immediately transmittable way - cultural issues hardly translatable with traditional tools and techniques. The desire to humanly describe what we do not understand.

COLLATERAL LANDSCAPE is a synthetic portrait which can be found - globally - on the edge of meaning between emergency and crisis, able to deliver a vision from the future of our Territory. Some how this portrait is a collection of tracks, thin fragments, from a post global event landscape.




critical introduction by Joseph Grima :

When photographer Antonio Ottomanelli set out for Afghanistan in 2009, his aim was not to verify a preconceived idea of the Afghan capital: it was to observe on the ground a landscape transfigured by unabated conflict, so acclimatised to trauma that it was part of the city's fabric. Ottomanelli roved the city in search of signs of the macroscopic forces at play in the terrain, recording his observations in writing and on film.

War wields an apparatus of fracture, but it also forms a connective structure: thus, this journey through Kabul was the first chapter of four years of research that soon led elsewhere. Collateral Landscapes is a cartography of the forces unleashed following the events of September 11, 2001—events that cast distant realities (Kabul, Baghdad, Sadr City, Herat, Dokan, New York City, Gaza) into a "state of entanglement", not dissimilar to the electrons bound together regardless of physical distance in quantum physics. Out of these disparate landscapes emerges a new geography that elides borders and frontiers, a single, seamless, imaginary "place" that viscerally gravitates around recent historical events.

An architect by training, Ottomanelli looks to the inhabited landscapes as a register of human activity, consisting of both destruction and reconstruction. The representation of the landscape is critical but not judgmental; conflict is expressed not through bullet-holes and bomb craters but through images of brand-new gated communities and pristine parliamentary buildings. These places are not the theatre in which the plot unfolds but rather a cast of actors in themselves. The position of the images is not fixed and will change throughout the duration of the exhibition. Selected photographs are accompanied by descriptions of the landscapes, hand-written by the local guides who accompanied Ottomanelli during his reconnaissances.


Quando il fotografo Antonio Ottomanelli partì per l'Afghanistan nel 2009 non fu per verificare un'idea preconcetta della capitale Afghana: era invece per osservare sul posto una terra trasfigurata da un conflitto senza sosta, ormai abituata al trauma al punto che esso era diventato parte delle costruzioni della città. Egli ha rovistato la città in cerca di segni delle macroscopiche forze in azione sul paesaggio, registrando le sue osservazioni in note scritte e immagini.

Le lacrime di guerra separano, ma allo stesso tempo legano indissolubilmente insieme dei luoghi, e questo viaggio a Kabul è diventato il primo capitolo di una ricerca durata quattro anni e che presto lo ha portato altrove. Collateral landscape è una cartografia delle forze scatenate che si sono susseguite agli eventi dell'11 settembre 2011 – eventi che hanno gettato realtà distanti (Kabul, Baghdad, Sadr City, Herat, Dokan, New York City, Gaza) in uno “stato di entanglement” non dissimile da quello che nella fisica quantistica lega insieme elettroni a dispetto della loro reale distanza. Da questi paesaggi così differenti emerge una nuova geografia noncurante dei confini e delle frontiere: un singolo luogo immaginario senza soluzione di continuità visceralmente avvinto dai recenti eventi storici.

Architetto di formazione, Ottomanelli guarda ai paesaggi abitati come registro delle umane attività sia di distruzione che di ricostruzione. La rappresentazione del paesaggio è critica ma non giudicatoria – il conflitto non viene mostrato attraverso buchi di pallottole o crateri generati da bombe esplose – ma attraverso immagini di nuovissime gated communities e palazzi del parlamento di recente costruzione. Questi luoghi non sono il teatro in cui la trama si disvela, come fosse un gruppo di attori, da sé. La posizione delle immagini non è fissa e cambierà nel periodo della mostra. Alcune fotografie selezionate saranno accompagnate da descrizioni del paesaggio scritte a mano dalle guide locali che hanno accompagnato Ottomanelli nelle sue continue ricognizioni.