3Stefano Piemontese

A few months ago, previous to my first visit to Wolfsburg – which I chose as the location where to realize my photographic work for the TOET project – I was getting lost on internet with the vague idea to gather together some ideas and new perspectives about this town and its italian inhabitants. By chance (that is, by google) I stumbled upon a website named ‘Wolfsburg, a journey between the memories of the past and the reality of the present in the city of Volkswagen’. It belongs to Alberto Gavioli, a former italian migrant who worked and lived in Wolfsburg for just one year between 1964 and 1965. Alberto’s original purpose was to recollect some memories, images and personal reflections about his short but very significative stay in the city of Volkswagen. Notwithstanding, year after year, Alberto begun receiving an increasing amount of calls, mails and images from other former emigrants who stumbled upon his website like me. As he writes, this occurrence gradually transformed this space from a private blog to a sort of collective photographic archive on the italian migrations to Wolfsburg:

‘Honestly I was not expecting all this. Evidently the witness of my working experience at the Volkswagen industry aroused the memory and the nostalgia of many Italian migrants … This website has grown thanks to you. All the material I received has been put in these pages and made available to those who still want to remember … We must keep the memory alive! Do not let the time erases the testimony of our work in those years!’

Today, the website recollect some really interesting records about Alberto’s migratory experience and first return to Wolfsburg in 2002. The little collection of Alberto’s personal pictures is completed with a rich collective photographic archive. This include some pictures of the daily life of the Italian workers in the VW-erected ‘Berliner Brücke’ barracks, as well several random documents (such as working contracts, cinema’s tickets, VW work regulation plan, etc.).

At the beginning of January 2013 I called a friend of mine and I told him that there was a person I wanted to meet. According to a couple of e-mail I exchanged with Alberto, his village was just three hour away from my hometown in Italy. We met more or less at equal distance in an empty restaurant of Nonantola, a little town we chose by chance looking on google maps. The video interview we realized with Alberto gives some insights about his (as he defines it) ‘atypical’ experience in Wolfsburg, and offers also some reflections on the necessity of memory. The video will be soon posted on this blog. For now I invite you to explore Alberto’s website hearing Richard Addinsell’s Warsaw Concerto. It is the melody he was used to listen from the neighbors’ record players before falling asleep in his bed of the Room number 3 of the Barrack 40. It still changes the shape of his wrinkles.