Q: Your intention was to portray the eternal conflict between man and nature – what is it about the Tonnara that makes it so iconic?
My vision for the project was a metaphor of the relationship between man and nature, as well as a paradox. The Tonnara represents a sophisticated way of catching protein from nature, but it’s still a confrontation between the forces of nature – the sea, the tides, the currents and the pure power of the tuna – and the humans who struggle to catch fish to feed themselves. The process is sustainable and respectful to nature, by selecting the largest tuna, thanks to a trap that was invented around 3,000 years ago, and freeing those that are too young. The trap doesn’t kill the fish: they live in it and keep reproducing until the end. Traps capture only a small part of the schools of tuna that pass through the bay, and they’re dismantled after the tuna migration has passed. The trapping process takes place much as it would have done in ancient times, with the pure strength of the fishermen’s arms. It’s a fair confrontation and the result isn’t predictable, as from the beginning the fish may still escape entrapment. The Tonnara is paradoxical because while it’s sustainable and fair, this method is also extremely violent and bloody in its final phase. That forces us to reflect on the necessity of fishing in order to survive. Perhaps we’ll think twice the next time we face a piece of tuna wrapped in plastic in the supermarket.