Una Barena Intera
The Venice Lagoon is one of the most important areas for birdlife throughout the Mediterranean, hosting over 200,000 water birds of 60 different species. The birds take refuge on the 'barene,' forms of mud periodically submerged by tides, which constitute one of the most characteristic and fragile environments of the Venetian ecosystem. They are essential for the lagoon as they have a purifying effect, filtering the lagoon water, and provide a habitat rich in biodiversity, offering shelter and nourishment to many species of flora and fauna.

Continue below...
CAMERA - Centro Italiano per la Fotografia

However, the lagoon is currently threatened by a severe process of erosion, caused by the diversion of rivers and the modification of port channels for commercial and tourist purposes. The rise in sea levels due to climate change further exacerbates the current imbalance, threatening to transform the lagoon into a bay of the sea. It's worth noting that the Mediterranean is among the basins warming most rapidly on the planet today, with serious consequences for marine ecosystems.

The archival images feature a selection of birds from the Alinari Archives, photographed by F. Coburn around 1890, with studio reconstructions of their original environment. The bird photos are juxtaposed with contemporary images of the barene in the Venice Lagoon, taken by Matteo de Mayda in 2023.

The project aims to emphasize the fragility of an ecosystem threatened by human action, questioning the coexistence between mass tourism and the survival of birdlife in a symbolic area of the planet. The dialogue between past and present inevitably compels us to reflect on the future of the lands we inhabit.

For this project, author Matteo de Mayda enlisted the scientific expertise of ornithologist Alessandro Sartori and the NGO We are here Venice. In the search for images, he was assisted by archivists from the Alinari Foundation for Photography and curated by CAMERA Torino.