Down in the maze
Reportage for La Rapidissima
Armed with his camera, Davide Aichino descended into the underground passages that populate the lower levels of the ICO Workshops, and discovered a mysterious world that very few people know exists.
A world where everything has remained still since the day production stopped many years ago. Empty corridors, neatly organized bundles of cables, wires, and pipes; lockers in the dressing rooms, chairs and desks severely affected by time, covered in dust and paint flakes but still arranged according to one last work scene.
There are rooms where electrical equipment sits on rotten shelves, others where the walls are lined with folders containing order forms and registries, documents whose only task is now to help compose a visual picture that appears more post-atomic than post-industrial.
The atmosphere is profoundly
evocative, but Aichino’s photographs have a clear documentary quality: their goal is to immortalize this underground world before it takes on a new form, as it should.
Issue 25 of Notizie Olivetti — the monthly magazine that documented all the aspects of life in the factory, from productive to commercial, organizational, cultural, recreational activities — contains an article by Enrico Fanchetto entirely devoted to this underground space.
The following is a passage that we found particularly relevant, it is a homage to all those whose work was essential but remained unseen.
“When the hustle and bustle of life in the departments fades into silence, work in the plants continues. The pipes and wires on the Mariotti line that supply electricity, air and steam keep feeding their energy to the factory. The white beams
of the watchmen’s flashlights point the way from the power stations to the dark maze of corridors, right up to the machines immersed in the darkness of the night, under the dull light of the red lamps. Careful workers make sure that everything runs smoothly, just like in daytime, because in the factory, as in the city, life will resume tomorrow at its usual pace.”