Much more than a plaque, a sad laurel wreath in the month of Memory. In Otranto the Kater I Rades has become a work of art. A monument to migrants, to that humanity which, far from home, seeks, but not always finds, a landing place for landing in a better life. Glass and rusty iron. This is how the wreck of the Albanian patrol boat was reinvented, which on the night of the Good Friday of 15 years ago suffered a collision with the Sibilla ship of the Italian Navy and was shipwrecked in the Otranto Channel. About 120 people on board. 34 was saved. The bodies recovered were 57, mostly women and children, other 24 were never found. Today the port of the most eastern Apulian town in Italy, where every New Year is joyfully celebrated the Dawn of the peoples, welcomes “L'Approdo. Works for Migrant Humanity ”.
The elaboration of a mourning is a symbol of re-start to remember the tragedy of the 1997, in the hope that sooner or later the Mediterranean will cease to be a "liquid cemetery", a journey of no return for thousands of people who they can't touch the ground and get lost in the crossing.
But it is also, as the Greek sculptor of international fame explains Costas Varotsos who realized it, a "strong, positive message of union and brotherhood among peoples because there are centrifugal forces that seek to reduce these feelings of brotherhood among Europeans".
Thus glass, as fragile as life and sharp as the pain of the survivors and family members of the victims, is also the light of hope, of communication and of love between peoples. And it is that transparency that forces you to see what is underneath, what cannot be erased, to understand that behind it there is a History and the hundreds of stories of those who sank inside that patrol boat.
"History, at times, knows how to write very sad pages and our Channel has had to witness tragedies of a deafening pain that it is hard to forget."
Thus the mayor Luciano Cariddi who, presenting the work, ensures:
"We don't want to forget. Indeed, we want to remember those moments. We believe it is right to cultivate memory. The project L'Approdo has been married and made its own from Otranto, so that the memory of the tragedy of the shipwreck in the 1997 Good Friday remains alive and so that attention remains high on the policies to be implemented to govern, at best, a problem that continues to register so many victims in our seas. We want the work to be a place and a symbol dedicated to Migrant Humanity.
Let us never forget that our country, and especially the South, was affected by the phenomenon of mass emigration to foreign countries that welcomed us. The Landing can help to strengthen in our community the natural predisposition to acceptance and that solidarity always demonstrated, and to never lead us to ever refuse that first embrace that is asked of us by those fleeing from places where one cannot lead a life free and dignified, they ask to have a chance to look to the future with confidence and hope ".
And if Otranto does not want to scrap the past, albeit dramatic, and on the contrary crystallizes it in art, pointing out the human and geographical proximity to the Balkans, the twenty tons of glass put by Varotsos around the hull of the Kater I Rades, which shine in the sun of the transparent green of the water and darken like the waves when it rains, they become an enveloping sea. So that the ship seems to go back to sailing.
"It is as if he were in the midst of a storm and the whole sea had burst on him. I wanted to restart it. I tried to make it surface again. The one who sank - the Greek artist said - had to go back to riding the waves, with a new message of balance between present and past ".
In reality a new "route" has already been traced. The wreck fished at 790 meters deep, examined centimeter by centimeter by court experts and then abandoned for years in the port of Brindisi, was now ready to be demolished as required by the Court of Appeal of Lecce (which sentenced to three years on Albanian pilot of the ship Namik Xhaferi, and at two years the commander of the Sibilla Fabrizio Laudadio).
Instead it was recovered, saved, recreated. As the Municipality of Otranto reminds us, "this incredible journey of reconstruction and rebirth was achieved thanks to the courage of the city administration, to the idea of the Institute of Mediterranean Cultures of the Province of Lecce, to the will of Klodiana Cuka of the humanitarian association Integra Onlus, of the relatives of the victims, and to the determination of Giusi Giaracuni curator of the project ".
Not only. The work, which is sponsored by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organization for Migrants and the Italian Committee for Refugees, is the result of collective work.
The contribution of the Puglia Region, of the Province of Lecce, of the Municipality of Otranto was added to that of numerous private individuals who, with the workmanship of glassmakers, blacksmiths, painters, carpenters and carpenters, contributed to its realization through supplies and free services (from Pilkinton multinational company that provided 12 tons of glass to the Cannone Group that cut the patrol boat in two, from Duriplastic's rustproofing treatments to the 1Lab welds, from Vetro Design who cut and glued over a thousand square meters of glass to the Troso who built the hull support with over 40 cubic meters of reinforced concrete).
The compelling challenge of the international art project is also met by eight young creatives from Albania, Syria, Egypt, Montenegro, France, Cyprus and Italy of the Biennale of Young Artists from Europe and the Mediterranean who organized, with the Artemisia cooperative, a cultural itinerary of multidisciplinary research on the relationship between local communities and migration. Among the artistic contributions is that of the Albanian duo "Scafisti Scafati" Arta Ngucaj and Ben Beqiraj.