A year ago, in late May, a severe earthquake struck northern Italy, with its epicentre in Emilia. The small community of San Felice sul Panaro (MO) was badly hit with 3 deaths and many buildings damaged or destroyed, including the magnificent Rocca Estense.
San Felice is perhaps best known for the annual event known as Magico, invented for the community a decade ago by a photographer from Este, Mario Lasalandra, who, inspired by the dream-like paintings of Chagall, has had a particular interest in the ways in which the semblance of silence and immobility associated with the world of the peasantry can unleash the imagining of surreal figures and places beyond time.
Each year the event brings together the inhabitants as actors to perform a different theme, the squares and streets serving as the stage and made magical by the drifting (artificial) clouds with accompanying soundscape. Since 2003 the themes have included ‘Giorno di Nozze’, ‘Santi e Miracoli’, ‘Guerra e Pace’, and ‘Il Circo’ as well as a homage to Federico Fellini. The marvellous faces, costumes and gestures are captured by photographers attracted from all parts of Italy to produce a fabulous record of a unique event. After the earthquake struck, it was felt that perhaps the tradition should be suspended. But the local community was insistent that it should continue, under the title Diario di un sogno, to be staged on Sunday 26 May, almost exactly one year after the first wave of destruction – a memorial dedicated to the future.