Ettore Moni is a Parma (Italy) based photographer. He documents contemporary visions of urban landscape and his personal projects with a large-format (4×5) camera. These images belong to his project ‘An Empty Valley’.
Project statement: Not far from the iconic city of Carrara, in the heart of the Apuan Alps,and uncommonly for Italian expectations in this field, the history of this valley and its force break down any stereotypes about the world of marble, about quarriers and those who live there. This history merges images and imagination and results in sometimes bitter yet never banal narration, which provides an alternative, new, discouraging point of view. The rays of sunshine barely reach out to here, let alone the first pages of magazines and the flashes of photographers. Here, all voids are filled. Filled with stories about courage – that of an abandoned valley and of those who still live here, among all its wounds, contradictions and natural limits.
On one side this tough nature hardly allows space for man-made constructions, yet on the other side it lets quarriers reach its very heart with their apparently unnatural lengthwise cuts, which in fact follow the geological patterns of marble layers. The antagonist here, if there is one, is history, which is always such a severe teacher: think of the industrial revolution, whose – mainly negative – effects have deeply affected the valley, and think of the massacre of about a hundred people. This is why it is of little importance that this place is barely reached by the rays of sunshine, because here I could actually arrive. And I came back. After all, here one could well imagine to be able to look at the sea from the ‘Dolomites’ or to walk on the austere lunar soil. One may also find a shepherd writing poetry, or a quarrier with a university degree; and even meet a hunter who prefers using his legs for trekking to using his rifle for killing, or a sculptor considering his solitude an opportunity.
About me: I loved taking pictures from a young age. It is the most artistic discipline that is congenial to me. I am a self-taught photographer but I did not find it hard to learn and evolve. In the beginning I mostly did portraits but gradually I developed interest in other kinds of photography using large format film camera.
I am currently working on a large construction site in a building of 1500, but I have already started various personal works that I’ll finish next summer. My current works usually feature landscapes.
About the project: The title of the project bears the impression I got when I was there for the the first time. During next two years my perception changed but the title remained ingrained in me. My approach to the project was first that of becoming a local so I made many friends and began to understand the place with all its stories.
My equipment: I work with the 4×5 format and with a tripod. It is a slow process but it allows you to understand more of the image-making.