Art Exhibition Reflects on Xylella's Devastating Impact

‘Xylella Studies,’ which documents the disruption caused by the bacterium to Puglia, will be on display until September 10th at the Sigismondo Castromediano Museum.

Xylella Studies #8, Lecce, Puglia, Italy, 2021
By Ylenia Granitto
Jul. 26, 2023 14:19 UTC
Xylella Studies #8, Lecce, Puglia, Italy, 2021

The Sigismondo Castromediano Museum in Lecce, Puglia, will host the Xylella Studies’ exhi­bi­tion by the Canadian pho­tog­ra­pher and artist Edward Burtynsky, who has cap­tured the dis­rup­tion caused by Xylella fas­tidiosa in 12 large-for­mat pho­tographs and a video until September 10th.

The event is the result of a part­ner­ship with Sylva Foundation, a non-profit founded in 2021, aim­ing at the envi­ron­men­tal regen­er­a­tion of lands affected by Xylella fas­tidiosa through refor­esta­tion.

The set­ting of the exhi­bi­tion of a con­tem­po­rary artist like Burtynsky in this archae­o­log­i­cal museum makes the rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the Xylella fas­tidiosa epi­demic even more dra­matic.- Luigi De Luca, direc­tor, Sigismondo Castromediano Museum

Last year, Burtynsky was invited to a res­i­dence in Salento by the foun­da­tion and com­mis­sioned to trans­late the effects of the bac­teri­um’s spread on the Apulian land­scape into pho­tos and videos. He was then selected to receive the 25th Pino Pascali prize, awarded each year to a con­tem­po­rary artist.

Focusing on the impetu­ous and neg­li­gent action of man on the planet, anthro­pocen­tric phe­nom­ena become for Burtynsky the ful­crum for redefin­ing the spir­i­tu­al­ity of nature and the pre­car­i­ous bal­ance between liv­ing beings,” said the com­mis­sion of experts in the explana­tory state­ment to the award.

See Also:Art Exhibition Raises Awareness of Growing Wildfire Risk, Funds Reforestation

The artist ded­i­cated his 40-year career to doc­u­ment­ing humanity’s effects on the planet, and his works can now be found in the col­lec­tions of the most renowned muse­ums in the world.

Among the most pop­u­lar is the mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary body of work Anthropocene Project,’ com­bin­ing pho­tog­ra­phy, film, vir­tual and aug­mented real­ity and sci­en­tific research.

The set­ting of the exhi­bi­tion of a con­tem­po­rary artist like Burtynsky in this archae­o­log­i­cal museum makes the rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the Xylella fas­tidiosa epi­demic even more dra­matic, enhanc­ing the under­stand­ing of the dam­ages caused by this plague,” Luigi De Luca, the Sigismondo Castromediano Museum’s direc­tor, told Olive Oil Times.

The Xylella Studies’ works are put in close dia­logue with the archae­o­log­i­cal col­lec­tion of the museum, min­gling with the arti­facts located along the per­ma­nent itin­er­ary, which is divided into five sec­tions defined as cul­tural land­scapes of the sea, the land, the sacred, the liv­ing and the dead.

At the same time, on the exter­nal perime­ter of the museum, a selec­tion of shots taken by the pho­tog­ra­pher and artist from Salento Daniele Coricciati dur­ing the days in which Burtynsky worked in the olive groves will be dis­played through­out the exhi­bi­tion.

It is not just a mat­ter of destroy­ing mil­lions of olive trees, and there­fore a nat­u­ral­is­tic as well as pro­duc­tive her­itage, since the pro­duc­tion of extra vir­gin olive oil is so piv­otal in Puglia, but it is also about destroy­ing a sig­nif­i­cant piece of the cul­tural iden­tity of our land,” De Luca said.

Indeed, the set-up in the museum, along­side items that tell us how ancient and rooted the tra­di­tion and cul­ture of olive oil are in our land and the entire Mediterranean basin, helps us reflect even deeper on the plague that our land is expe­ri­enc­ing,” he added.

As of today, 10 years since the Xylella out­break asso­ci­ated with the dry­ing up of olive trees was dis­cov­ered, more than 8,000 hectares of ter­ri­tory, equal to 40 per­cent of the region, is affected at dif­fer­ent lev­els by the epi­demic and con­tain­ment pro­to­cols.

Still, in the last two years, the infec­tive capac­ity of the bac­te­ria decel­er­ated, experts told Olive Oil Times in June.

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