Suburbs at crossroads: Rome-Berlin.

A research on social housing projects developed between the 1970s and 1980s, ImpAsse Rome-Berlin by Pasquale Liguori is the reportage that has emerged between ambition, decline and the possibility of redemption of important urban areas that arose in the two European capitals.

Liguori in his new photographic book puts in dialogue Corviale and Marzahn which also differ in territorial extension and general context. Both conceived thanks to specific programs intended for solving the persistent housing needs, they were built with a so-called “dry” building approach with wide use of industrial modules and prefabricated elements.

Starting from the structural similarities of the two areas, through the observation of the urban layout, the terrain of an active recovery of that social vision that inspired their planning and realization is investigated.
What story for such similar stories and places of different countries in a Europe torn apart by its ideals without fences and barriers? Can a photograph not only bridge a spatial distance but establish over time harmonies of intents and instances in different contexts? Can it do it, then, in a concise way through the language of urban transformation, avoiding icy and orthogonal images or invasive shots, not very respectful of the human element as a model composed in images with a dangerously identitarian flavor?

In contexts where very often the standard of living is reduced to extreme limits – debts and installments to guarantee those minimum and constant consumptions while still useful to the machine of neoliberal “progress”- Liguori avoids the trap of an affected storytelling. The photographic research adopts operational choices in which it reflects on the context, avoiding bourgeois incursions into the difficulty of others and suggestive interpretations of everyday subjects and gestures into doped photographs with improper postproductions.

ImpAsse is a parody title of the notorious Rome-Berlin Asse [axis]. In this case, the expected alliance is the hoped for joint action to react to the paralysis, to the critical cul-de-sac that gathers hopes, aspirations and disenchanted illusions of people who live the same condition in different places. The apparent static nature of the photographic object, revived by a desirable collective awareness, can therefore be a springboard for a conscious redemption.

ImpAsse is not, does not want to be, a contemplative search on the districts of Corviale and Marzahn as single entities, in its own right, nor an improbable frontal parallel. Corviale and Marzahn, then. Not already Corviale versus Marzahn or vice versa.

Places that are often portrayed in aspects of loneliness and difficulties that are sometimes modestly concealed from the photographer, but above all in their ability to express charm, energy, ingenuity and dignity with the impasse to be overcome.

About the author:

Pasquale “Pas” Liguori was born in Naples. He’s been living and working in Rome for years. A communication and strategy advisor, he has been practicing photography for a long time, mostly focusing on his research on the suburbs, both from an architectural and a socio-anthropological perspective. His most recent work on the housing conditions of Rome, Naples and Berlin is centred on the analysis of places and living arrangements, where the human presence is portrayed through its eloquent traces, in an original approach that combines reportage and urban studies. He made several exhibitions and authored papers on suburbs renewal and social photography.

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