November 12, 2021
LANDSCAPE OF MY FOREVER
IN CONVERSATION WITH FRANCESCO MERCADANTE
Photography and story by Francesco Mercadante
Interview by Melanie Meggs
The passion for photography has accompanied Francesco Mercadante's life since he was about nine years old when he was gifted a blue 'Rondinella' bicycle and a Kodak Instamatic from his father. Both items were inseparable friends on his many solitary escapes over the countryside of his home in Calabria in Italy to capture "glances" and to imagine and dream, marking Francesco's "passage of time". His love for photography and nature, that, still today, he goes looking for, and as he states, she (Mother Nature) calls me amongst the country paths and the expanses of meadows, skies, trees, streams and old abandoned houses. To Francesco they are harmony, landscape architecture..."furniture of the Earth"...fragments of human life. With stories to tell, these landscapes evoke atmosphere and an aura that intimately breathes. Francesco rediscovers those moments from his childhood when he went back to his hometown in his project "Landscapes of My Always."
I started this project one summer afternoon. In the twilight hours I picked up my camera and set off. Driven by the nostalgia of when, as a boy, I used to ride my Moped along the road to the sea. Forty years have passed and now, and seeing that landscape again, it is as if I had found another part of myself, still there, waiting for me. It is the work of my heart and the memory of my childhood. So I started photographing the landscape of my hometown, Cutro, where I was born in Calabria. Here the hills become low and, especially in summer, thanks to their yellowish colour (due to the cultivation of wheat), they resemble the scenery of desert dunes. Pier Paolo Pasolini decided to shoot some scenes of the film 'The Gospel According to St. Matthews in this landscape.
Driven by nostalgia when, as a boy, I used to ride my bicycle along the road to the sea. I used to cross the landscape of mine while travelling in the truck with my father when he took me with him to load the onions that were used for the sale of his trade in the markets. Then, as a child, I admired these yellow and sunlit dunes from the finerino and from there, a few kilometres away, the view would open to a blue sea.
My project gave me great opportunity to relive my most intimate memories, to walk and photograph those places I had always seen through a window. I have rediscovered my roots.
My roots are firm even if they are far from their own land.
My roots are like olive wood
with outstretched arms
almost wanting to caress the red and clayey earth that welcomes them.
My roots smell of tufa dust
of almond tree in bloom
of cultivated gardens.
History and perfumes come together in my land, releasing sensations
of peace and tranquility, where the sea and the sky
they marry in a single color.
In the countryside the ancient beams look out like great ladies
there time stopped
I walk in my land,
every time it's a surprise,
I find myself
I smile and rejoice in so much beauty.