It was in 1951 when Mussolini called Matera “The Shame of Italy“. People at that time were living in conditions, the rest of Italy had left behind years ago. There was no electricity and people were living in much too small houses, together with their animals. The hygienic conditions were bad.
Carlo Levi was shocked, when he came to Matera, seeing children with flies sitting on their eyes, not even moving to make them fly away.
The city of Matera, I get to know in these days, is a very different one. The houses in the Sassi are renovated. There are a lot of lights making the view on the Sassi a magical experience. In the Sassi there are a lot of small restaurants and nice shops with handcrafted goods. Being the Capital of Culture in this year, the city has a lot to offer. There are cultural events as concerts, performances and exhibitions every day.
I am currently supporting the organisation “Architecture of Shame“, which did not only organize talks with experts, but is also starring an exhibition. While celebrating the amazing transformation, Matera as a city has made from „The Shame of Italy“ to Europe’s Capital of Culture, the organisation puts a spotlight on other places in Europe, where a connection between architecture and shame can still be found. One of those places are rural ghettos in the southern Italian countryside. Here, immigrants are living in very bad conditions and working in agriculture in conditions comparable to slavery. I never heard of this before working as a volunteer for “Architecture of Shame“ and I was shocked about it. For me this situation is a paradox. Europe‘s Capital of Culture is just 30 to 40 minutes by car away from places where architecture and shame are also nowadays deeply connected. There has to be put a spotlight on these places to make a much needed change possible. I am happy that in my voluntary service I could support this mission a bit by supporting „Architecture of Shame“.