Civitella D’Agliano Discovered Its Truth

Pierre Restany

in Domus 1989

Perhaps true miracles are tricks of memory or rather tricks on memory. An intuition of this type must have inspired the linguistic adventure of the sculptor Angelo Casciello, the painter, Annamaria Santolini and the photographer, Silvio Wolf in their search for the “truth” of the small town of Civitella d’Agliano.

The truth of a town that is the truth of its architecture, which is to say its history and the memories connected with the organic expression of  the existential continuity of its community. Casciello, Santolini and Wolf went to two key points in the history and geography of the town in search of the truth of Civitella d’Agliano. The town is sited resting on a rock and dominates the valley below. The “Great Western Wall” is a great buttress that connects the rock to the valley. Silvio Wolf’s photographic image follows the internal order of the blocks of tuff in the wall with their rhythmic metre. The balance between the stones and the image on photographic paper glued onto the tuff is certainly precarious. It is like the skin of a snake: like the skin of a snake the surface of this film has a light, active and vibrant dimension. It is a dream of light that will last one summer. It should crumble and disappear slowly as winter arrives. I do not dislike this fatality of the ephemeral, it is also part of the specific condition of the memory of country towns.

Angelo Casciello and Annamaria Santolini joined Silvio Wolf to emphasise another aspect of the “truth” of the town: a small church and an old house completely in ruins. The modest fragments of the internal architecture of the church were exposed to the light of the sun as traces of the history of the place or better still as tattoos incised in the architectural flesh of the town. It is a work by three people designed for an open and revitalised space dedicated to preserving the history of Civitella d’Agliano.

The meaning of the gesture is to conserve the history of a site in a place. It is an alarm signal against oblivion and indifference, a gift to the collective awareness of the inhabitants of the town.

These signs of history torn from centuries of slumber are pathetically fragile. It was certainly not by chance that Silvio Wolf and his companions transferred responsibility for conserving the evidence of the town’s history to the town council. It is perhaps an ironic or perfidious gift: what will the Mayor and his councillors do with it?