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Ilva – Iron Traces in the Tuscany

Europe: Exchange and Movement lwl-industriemuseum

The Ruhr area and the Tuscany have a lot in common. This might be surprising since their differences are much more apparent than their similarities. In fact, both are heavily influenced by the iron and steel industry. The photographic exhibition “Ilva – Iron Traces in the Tuscany” wants to highlight this influence. The photographies are exhibited at the LWL-Industriemuseum (Westphalian State Museum of Industrial Heritage) Henrichshütte ironworks in Hattingen. It will also take the visitor to the cradle of the European iron and steel industry.

Its cradle is actually situated in the Tuscany, where “Ilva” (Etruscan for “iron”) has been produced for more than 3000 years. But since the 1960s, the region finds itself in a transitional phase in which the iron and steel industry declines slowly but steadily. In 2015 and 2017, a team of two German and three Italian photographers went out to capture the places that document this decline. They visited the ore mines of the island of Elba, the excavation site of Baratti and the factories of Piombino. The subjects of the photographies range from aesthetic details to people at their workplace.

The history of iron and steel has shaped the landscape and the people of the Tuscany significantly. This influence is the focal point of the exhibition. Simultaneously, it displays that the connection to the Ruhr area is not solely based on a shared industrial heritage: The Tuscany has to work its way through the same crisis the Ruhr area had to face 30 years ago. Right now, 2.000 men and women are fighting for their jobs at the ironworks “AFERPI” in Piombino. At the same time, the people of the Ruhr area are bound to see the last active colliery to shut down by the end of 2018.

This shared experience of crisis has led to a vivid exchange between both regions. Even in 2015, the Westphalian State Museum of Industrial Heritage hosted the exhibition "Uomo e Macchina - Arbeit in der Toskana" (“"Uomo e Macchina – Working in the Tuscany") by Pino Bertelli. The former steelworker at the Lucchini factory portrayed people at their workplace and added recent photographs he had taken in Hattingen. “Ilva” continues this idea and verifies the mutual interest in a steady exchange of both the Tuscany and the Ruhr area.

The Regional Association of Westphalia-Lippe (LWL) will show the exhibition from June 17th to September 9th at its Museum of Industrial Heritage Henrichshütte ironworks in Hattingen.