L’Aquila earthquake reportage
The students of the The Darkroom have embarked on a weeklong photo reportage expedition to L’Aquila, Italy. Located in a valley in the heart of the Abruzzo region, L’Aquila suffered a devastating earthquake in April 6th 2009, injuring and killing over 300 people and leaving around 70,000 people homeless. Its effects are still visible today, just over three years later. Still a functioning city, some parts were left untouched, while other areas, known as the “Red Zone”, are the most damaged parts, not open to pedestrians or tourists.
The intention of The Darkroom for this reportage was to capture the different parts of the city since the earthquake, architecturally and socially, through the use of both digital and large format view cameras, and through video interviews with local artists, journalists, and university students.
We had practiced with the large format view cameras in class for about a month during the still-life module, so we were able to take these skills to the field with exclusive access to the “Red Zone” and traveling to the New Towns, the area of L’Aquila where homes were build for those that had to be relocated. For the first four days, we worked in crews, traveling throughout the city to churches, monuments, and homes, photographing with the large format view cameras and also individually.
It was apparent to me that L’Aquila was a beautiful city, with winding streets and ornate, colorful buildings, but the devastation is also still apparent, even after so much time has passed. It was quite sad to see a city in such disrepair and to see the remnants people were forced to leave behind. Though there are some efforts to start to rebuild the city, walking in areas such as the “Red Zone”, L’Aquila almost felt abandoned, like a ghost town. Although I did feel as if there was something so raw and strangely humbling in the destruction. I can only continue to hope that someday soon L’Aquila will rise again to become the city that it once was.