Many of you will remember David Lynch for the catchphrase taken from his most famous TV series in 1990: “Who killed Laura Palmer?” Maybe someone will remember him for some bizarre films, like “Blue Velvet” and “Inland Empire” – take note of the last title that towards the end of article we will talk again – I personally hope that everyone will remember him for Eraserhead, which in my opinion is the most emblematic film of our film-maker, and that will be useful to introduce another Lynch’s passion: Urban exploration.
The film is in fact full of atmosphere and places that remind one of the abandoned places that we love so much, and it is similarly surreal. The plot is not linear and has many dream sequences that are mixed with the main plot in indistinguishable way, creating a labyrinthine film, just as they are sometimes labyrinthine urban explorations. In practice, my sick mind can see in this film a symbolic transposition of urbex on cellulose. I would love to know if I am the only one to see this thing or not. I was able to endorse the Bologna exhibition from our Lynch’s urbex version: “The factory photographs” and I was extremely impressed. What I found fascinating was his way of telling the abandonment emphasizing the mystery, creating images striking and full of suspense, images which also are a kind of visual continuum with Eraserhead. Afetr the strong visual suggestions that has caused me this show, I decided to make a new exploration and groped to raise the same emotions of suspense, waiting, ambiguities which gave me the photos of Lynch. It needed a suitable location, so I decided to go visit an old paper mill, nothing new, but who for one reason or another I had never visited it.A brief history of the mill: The first data on the production of paper in the area is back to 1772, throughout 1800 various small business paper production developed along the river. Towards the half of the 800 such small production activities begin to aggregate into larger productive agglomerates. In 1881 comes the first major paper mill. In the early ‘900 the mill changes its name adopting the one with which it is known today. The industry flourished until 1938 year when the family that owned it, flees from Italy because of the racial laws and the paper mill goes under government control. Returned at the end of the war, owners regained the mill in 1945 and the company continued to prosper, so much so that in the years 1951/1952 were purchased new land and a new paper mill was founded. The group reached its period of maximum expansion in the ’60s. The decline began in the 70s, and the causes were different: foreign competition, the closing of the railroad that reached right into the mill and countless floods that undermined the financial stability of the group. The definitive cessation of activities took place August 1, 1977.I visited many abandoned places, different from each other, villas, churches, hospitals, and anything else, but I have to say that the old factories sometimes are the most mysterious, and this one, among the old factories, is perhaps one of the richest of mystery . But where is all this mystery? Why own factories sometimes are among the most mysterious urbex places? Mysterious is something with no answers, the unfathomable, what is uncertain and sailing in the sea of speculation. Visiting a villa is easy to guess with relative certainty about what they were responsible for the various rooms, the same applies to the churches, to the colonies … usually for these places the mystery is limited to those who lived in that place and to why the he abandoned it. In factories it is different, most of the time you know the reasons of abandonment, but it is difficult to understand the meaning of the structures, their reason for being, their use. The site in question is huge, the facilities are gigantic, some reduced to mere skeletons, some still partially intact. One of the structures most special I’ve seen in this exploration is an entire building completely sealed: every window and door was locked with aluminum panels sealed with foam. The interior (not everything was well sealed) was even more special, the floor was covered by mountains of a substance that looked like ground, but also any other toxic substance.I think the correct one would be this second hypothesis, for the fact that even these mountains of earth were covered with heavy plastic sheeting. Another peculiarity of this place is that the building was empty in the middle. In part, this was an empty architectural, due to its design, was in part a structural vacuum, due to collapses caused by years of neglect. It was possible to access the different floors of the building, 4 or 5 at least, and every plan was with the hole in the middle, in practice it was a hole of a couple of meters that ran around the perimeter of the building. Everything was extremely run down, even that sort of giant boiler placed at the 3 or maybe 4 floor. What was produced here? Above all, why put a boiler of the size of an house so high? The ride was a succession of discoveries of strange places and unanswered questions, and as I wandered into this mill, Lynch came back in my mind, with its images with so intense black, with the surreal shots, visionary and labyrinthine. And then suddenly, a cross of stairs that do not know nor where they come from or where they lead, it makes me recall an image seen in the exhibition, and I snap a picture, then I change the area and I am faced with tubes in which once flowed who knows what. And click again. I think the beauty of urban exploration is just that: be fascinated by a place, make sure that it talks to us, if only to ask questions with no answers or to push us to claims that might be meaningless. I believe that to practice urbex is needed to be a little crazy and a little child, crazy to accept the risks that sometimes are accomplished by visiting certain places, children because in front of certain oddities, you must pass up the logic and reasoning in favor of the fantasy , allow it to run freely, then everything is transfigured, the windows become eyes, just imagine what we see upside down and we can teleport from an old paper mill to an ancient alien base. “I love the industry. The tubes. I love mud and smoke. I love the artificial things. I like to see people at work, and I like to see mud and waste of man-made” This was one of the phrases of Lynch inthe exhibition in Bologna, and I realize that in some ways I love the same things: the artificial product of man is to me something fascinating. Places like the paper mill are like cathedrals consecrated to the work, are the ruins of an endargered world , hymns to failed progress. Urban exploration as a visit to a museum of artificial history? Why not? The factory becomes an historical document, the trace of a past that seems more and more difficult it may return. But the urban exploration remains above all, a round in the balance between fantasy and obsession. Lynch was obsessed with chimneys, with the black. Everyone has obsessions, discover them and find them, sometimes can be fun … and you also have that obsession? I have to bring up your memory, you remember that at the beginning of this “little article” or “rant” if you prefer, I asked you to keep in mind a film of Lynch? Well, the source of one of my obsessions is hidden just in this movie, and it’s an obsession that anyone who has seen my picture knows …. I will leave you a taste… Well … I would like to thank those who had the courage to follow me all the way in this reckless article, I hope you enjoyed, see you soon in the next exploration!
Per vedere tutte le foto della cartiera e dell’esplorazione dedicata a David Lynch, dai un’occhiata qui.