Philip Samartzis

Entry #6


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Friday June 30, 2017

Today we travelled to Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga to record sheep and cattle grazing on the lush plateau located 2000 metres above sea level. Along the way we pass through several medieval towns sitting precariously atop rocky outcrops. Their stone facades blending seamlessly into the eroded limestone mountainside where they are vertically situated. Many of the buildings are either abandoned or for sale. The remote location, harsh climate, and history of earthquakes seem to have taken their toll on these regional communities. The rutted roads continue to be challenging as we precariously wind through the mountain range towards Gran Sasso. We stop several times to record the sound of wind blowing across the grassy valley. Along the way we meet a shepherd with several dogs in tow. He kindly guides the grazing sheep in and around my microphones while large white sheep dogs watch on suspiciously. Further on we come across a dispersed herd of cattle, their bells gently ringing through the valley. At times the collective interplay of the strangely dissonant ringing reminds me of the overtones generated by a gamelan. After some hours we finally reach the Campo Imperatore plateau situated at an elevation of 2200 metres near the massif of Gran Sasso, which is dramatically shrouded in cloud. Overlooking the impressive scenery is L ' Hotel Campo Imperatore, which was Benito Mussolini’s prison between 28 August and 12 September 1943. This inhospitable location really is a perfect place of exile. The depressed and suicidal Il Duce was rescued by German paratroopers during Operation Oak, and eventually settled in the Republic of Salò in northern Italy where he established the short lived Italian Social Republic. The decrepit hotel façade provides an apt reminder of the sordid history of this place. While taking in the scenary I think about Pier Paolo Pasolini and his acerbic observations of Italian society.

Open Field is a collaboration between Liminaria, Pollinaria and the B-CSC and is supported by the School of Art – RMIT University.

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