A photography book that questions the identity and existence of a proposed independent state in northern Italy.
For more than thirty years, factions in Italian right wing politics have obsessed over Padania, a region in Northern Italy that extends from the Alps to the Adriatic Sea. A territory that – ironically – for many nationalists represented a dream to secede from the rest of the country, Padania had never actually existed – legally, juridically, and not even geographically or culturally. While the idea of an independent state instantly gave the region a unitary identity, in reality the zone of Padania is made up of a “set of fragments that have nothing to do with one another,” as Italian photographer Tomaso Clavarino puts it.
Over a period of six years, he embarked on a journey through the area, the place of his birth. Starting from the north-west, he traveled along the national road that links Torino and Venezia, taking photographs on the way. The Padanistan series presents his view of the region; from challenging the visual stereotypes associated with Padania to questioning its existence. The name of the series, co-published in a book by Guest Editions (UK) and studiofaganel (Italy), is a deliberate play of words. On one hand, it challenges the right-wing, nationalist rhetoric. On the other, it intentionally alludes to countries far away from Italy, and perceived as such.
Padanistan features thought-provoking images of the former industrial area; photos that question not only the moniker given to the region, but also its existence. The series explores ideas of identity and place as well as the collective narrative of Padania. Seen through the eyes of the photographer, the series is a personal portrait of the region. At the same time, it uncovers a nuanced reality of disparate fragments in an almost featureless landscape. Edited by Peter Bialobrzeski, Tomaso Clavarino’s Padanistan also features an afterword by Italian writer Gianluca Didino. Apart from the standard edition, the book also comes in a 50-copy edition with a signed original archival print. Photography © Tomaso Clavarino.