On May 20th, 2012, at 4:03:52, a crack opened in the earth's crust under a village near Modena called Finale Emilia, where for more than a thousand years the territory of Emilia has ended and the rest has begun. Two huge blocks of land overlapped, sliding and crashing against each other, trying to steal each other's space, like fiery, claustrophobic giants. Sixty thousand and three hundred meters above, on the surface, the ground rose by 15 centimeters. The buildings' foundations began to swing, cracks made their ways through the plaster walls. It lasted for twenty seconds. Then the streets quickly filled with men and women in their pajamas, scared to death. All but seven, who would never come out.
In the following weeks, the earthquake rattled Bondeno, Mirabello, Medolla, San Possidonio and Novi. It reverberated everywhere in the provinces of Modena, Reggio Emilia, Ferrara, Mantova, Rovigo, Bologna. Over two months, 2,300 aftershocks left almost thirty people dead and a society in shock. Cars were smashed by the debris of the buildings under which they had been parked. Entire factories crumpled, and looked suddenly fragile. Jackals stole uniforms from rescue teams in order to pillage the evacuated houses. Those who had been evacuated screamed at the other jackals: the TV crews. Palaces without facades, whose furniture could be seen from the street. Castles and bells towers torn down without dignity with dynamite. Everywhere, barriers and dust.
A people that wakes every morning on a broken land can have only one goal left: pull it together. So week after week, doctors went back to heal their patients, factory workers to cast their girders, cheese makers to sell their cheese and builders to erect houses. Studio Blanco contributed with what they do best: a visual story to join together Emilia's faces and places, as if to ward off the possibility that the crumbling of the land could be followed by the crumbling of the people who lived on it.
To tell this story, they invited Swedish photographer Anders Petersen, a man who has nothing to do with these places, but who has made raw and moving reportages about vulnerability for more than forty years. Over eight days in November 2012, Studio Blanco brought Petersen to toll roads and museums, riversides and devastated squares, letting him photograph wherever, whomever, however he liked, with the idea that only an outsider could find and capture the spirit that keeps these lands together.
A young contortionist, a knotty tree trunk, two elderly people dancing in a ballroom. One year after the earthquake, Petersen's photos create a small poem about Emilia, which sews up that deep crack and returns this land, whole, to the humanity that has always belonged here.