celestino cavalli

miriadi (2023)

A phosphorescent path
connecting Italy and France
through glowing stones
that look like stars.
An artistic, poetic
and political action.

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The project developed from on-site research conducted in Ventimiglia, on the Italian-French border.
Since 2015, the numerous arrivals of people from the Mediterranean or from the Balkan route heading toward France caused the suspension, on the French side, of the Schengen Convention and therefore the interruption of free circulation between the two countries.
After a few months spent gathering information, I decided to focus on a trail connecting Italy and France starting from Grimaldi, the last Italian town before the border, to Menton, the first French town after it.
This path is, at times, followed by migrant groups in order to cross the border and reach France.
It is called "Passo della Morte" (Death Pass) and it has a long history, as it was used in the last century by smugglers, Jewish people fleeing Nazi persecution, and Italians emigrating to France in search of work, not too long ago.
At that time, and even today, the path was walked secretly at night: having arrived at a certain point on the mountain ridge, people were led to take the direction toward the visible lights of the French Riviera, but inevitably, confused by the darkness, it often happened to end up in a ravine.
Many people have died here in the past, while today it happens more rarely.
In any case, it is easy to get lost on the trail, especially for those who are not used to the mountains and are in a fragile emotional state; there are many who ask for help, give up, turn back or, worse, put themselves in danger.
For these reasons, I decided to mark the path with phosphorescent paint, which is visible at night and cannot be altered-I chose only stones rooted in the ground.
As a result, myriads of bright stones ideally guide the migrants like stars in the sky.

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Site-specific installation visible on the Italian side of "Passo della Morte", Grimaldi Superiore (IM), Italy.
The phosphorescent paint is made to last, hopefully, for several years.
The work also includes several artifacts, such as some stones from the location that have been covered with phosphorescent paint.
The night photographs are printed on different media, including lightboxes, which allow them to be seen in a dark environment.
The tools used for the action, such as protective gloves and brushes, have also been preserved and enhanced.
All the evidence collected, photographic material produced and design sketches will feed into a publication that is still in the making.