All uninhabited places have in common people who have vanished and a veil of mystery where the passage of people is visible only in the traces they leave and, inevitably, fascinate us because they are mysterious, leaving us with a feeling of nostalgia since they are drawn from our memories.
It is the perception of a hidden story that makes everything undeniably melancholy.
Not far from Milan, is the small town of Consonno (in the province of Lecco) where a real ghost city can be found; re-christened in the 1960s “City of Toys”, it was a place dedicated to enjoyment in all its various forms, which was made uninhabitable by a landslide. Following this event all the inhabitants deserted it, abandoning everything.
In Japan, near the nuclear power station of Fukushima, after the terrible earthquake of 2010, more than twenty thousand residents abandoned their homes, leaving the city to degradation. Kolmanskop, a town founded in the early 1900s by German troops in Namibia, but abandoned in the 1950s, is today one of the most fascinating of the uninhabited places.
But not only towns, also hospitals, mental institutions, stations and houses, leave the perception of a great past and a disastrous present. For example, like the Hotel del Salto in Columbia, after a turbulent period in which it was the protagonist of numerous suicides. It closed its doors in the nineties, and today is a spectacular tourist attraction. Or like the Lawndale theatre in Chicago which is now covered with dust and cobwebs.
Nature inevitably takes back what was once its own; roots go deep into the concrete, water consumes the stone, objects rust and get covered in mud and the elements modify the structure, giving the sensation of the “lure of abandonment”.
“A village means not being alone, knowing that there’s something of you in the people and the plants and the soil, that even when you are not there it waits to welcome you”. Cesare Pavese
Text: Barbara Centazzo