“Per l’eternità” by artist Luca Vitone

Schermata 2015-12-03 alle 21.51.22This video by Italian artist Luca Vitone, “Per l’Eternità”, is the result of a research on the victims of asbestos-related diseases in the area of Casale Monferrato. It was already published on these pages almost a year ago. Given the global scale and the urgency of the subject and the video’s poetic and ruthless interpretation of this story, we asked the artist to reauthorize its presentation once again. March 4th, 2015

 

 

 


Per l’eternità. HD Video. Duration 7:57. Edition of 3

Text below


Only artists can succeed in giving a poetic yet ruthless interpretation of a story. The one we are presenting to you today is the sad story of asbestos deaths in Italy.
Just a few months ago, on November 19th, 2014, the court in Rome cancelled an 18-year jail sentence against the former Eternit owner Stephan Schmidheiny. Eternit was a factory manufacturing asbestos fibre cement products located in the area of Casale Monferrato, a north-west Italian city. Schmidheiney was convicted of causing an asbestos environmental disaster; furthermore, according to the victims, Eternit is responsible for more than 2,000 deaths. The onset of mesothelioma, one of the most common diseases related to asbestos exposure, usually takes decades. This is why, although the factory was closed in 1986, the death rate in Casale continues at a rate of 50 to 60 casualties per year. According to the most recent WHO (World Health Organization) estimates, more than 107.000 people die each year from asbestos-related lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis resulting from exposure at work. Approximately half of the deaths from occupational cancer are estimated to be caused by asbestos. In addition, it is estimated that several thousand deaths per year can be attributed to exposure to asbestos at home. Although asbestos was banned in Italy in 1992 – and in the rest of Europe in 1999 – it is still widely used in Brazil, Russia, China, India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand.

We have been authorized by the artist and the gallery to show this video on Radicate.eu.
This video shares the same title as Luca Vitone’s work at the last 55th Venice Biennale (Italian Pavilion). At the Biennial, Vitone presented a scent pervading the room and considered by the artist to be a kind of portrait of Eternit, the versatile and odor-free building material that has caused too much death because of the inhalation of its fibrous asbestos particles.
The video “Per l’eternità” is made of voices and landscape. The voices are those of the people interviewed during the visit to Casale Monferrato, a little town in the north of Italy where the Industry of Eternit has been functioning and polluting the area for years. Those people tell the story of a drama, where devastation and death has supplanted the initial faith in this material, for the future, and technological innovation. The video shows images of the area surrounding the town of Casale Monferrato and of which the people are asked to talk about.

This is the transcription of the English Subtiles:

The wind, the wind makes me anxious, I feel like covering my face as if, by breathing that wind, that air, I could breathe something that harms me.

Fear of the wind.

Unfortunately, it does not smell. Because if it had a smell, there where it is, it would be a bother.

It was such a place that when one entered, two people like you and me, we cannot see each other.

There was that tiny dust, that looked like a tiny white powder, a powder coming down, though with all those little thorns within, just a very light, little little fiber, a tiny thing that gets stuck into the lungs…! Full, full of powder, black nose, all, all, all…

My husband died in 1995, my father-in-law died in 1991…

I am the only one who is still alive among 30 workers…

I have lost my husband when he was young, then my sister…

one died last year, four months ago…

on December 10th, 2003 the son of my sister passed away…

those who wanted to know, they knew that it harms…

my husband died 16 years ago, he was 49…

my brother has had it since 10 years ago…

he too died of mesothelioma…

my mother died 10 years ago, after my husband died…

how much powder? 60? Me, I’ve got 70, damn!…

they said to me sit down mom, we have to tell you something,me too, I have mesothelioma…

we know that in 1930 or 1936 in Germany they discovered that it is cancerogenic, in 1943 in Italy they knew that people got asbestosis and died…

100% of asbestosis…

a cough was the beginning of mesothelioma, then he got sick, when he was 45, he was gone…

nevertheless they kept on saying that it was not dangerous…

it spread among workers’ houses, than affected wives and sons too…

he went to the funerals, but at home he did not even mention that…

if there is some kind of awareness of a risk that generates diseases jeopardizing anybody’s life, that’s a crime…

he too died of asbestosis, he was suffocated…

I am the only one who survived in that department…

only my son and I survived, there is nobody else from my family…

none else now…

nobody is left…

See, even those who moved, who went to Sardinia, they died of mesothelioma in Sardinia.

If you consider that the incubation for that thing is longer than 20 years, you can run away to wherever you like, but if you have it inside of you, you are screwed anyway, you know…!

Asbestos was everywhere. Asbestos was asbestos, it was – how do they say? – eternal.

Luca Vitone, Per l’eternità, 2013. HD video. Duration 7:57. Edition of 3.
Courtesy the artist and Pinksummer gallery, Genoa, Italy. Photo: Elvio Manuzzi. Editing: Elvio Manuzzi, Luca Vitone.

Special thanks to Garvin Cummings, Jessica Genova, and Massimo Palazzi for working on the english subtitles.
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