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Poetto Beach

A child playing with a kite in a strong windy day. In the background the promontory Devil’s Saddle. Poetto Beach, Cagliari, October 2014
Poetto Beach, photo essay by Claudio Sanna

“Poetto Beach” has been realised between August 2013 and October 2014.
Poetto is the name of Cagliari’s main beach and it’s also the longest and most popular Sardinian city beach. An 8 km long expanse of sand overlooked by the promontory Devil’s Saddle. It is called the Beach of hundred thousand for the huge influx of people during the summer months. But it’s a lot more.
For Cagliari and its inhabitants the Poetto represents a symbol. Asking them if they remember the first time they placed their feets on the Poetto’s sand is like asking them about the first time they pronounced a word.
From the early decades of 1900s, this expanse of sand has undergone profound transformations that have irrevocably changed its aspect: the dunes, the rows of multi-colored bathing huts and even the white sands of yore are only a memory by now.

The beach isn’t the only thing to be changed: giving a look to the old black and white photographs of the beach you can easily notice how customs and traditions have changed in the course of a century. You can see it in pictures of girls dressed in cumbersome bathing outfit or guys riding their Vespa, which could be our grandparents in the best time of their youth.
The Poetto tells also stories of war. During World War II the bathing establishments were occupied by soldiers who were stationing the coast. The picturesque bathing huts were destroyed by the soldiers to get wood to for fires during the cold and wet winter nights.
After the war, tons of sand, despite the prohibitions, were taken to be used in the reconstruction of bombed buildings, causing an environmental damage for which we are still paying the consequences.
The transformation process has not stopped: a new seafront, with a promenade and green areas, is scheduled for summer 2015.
And what will change in the next twenty or fifty years? What will be lost?
Poetto Beach aims to create a visual archive of what is today the Poetto beach, focusing especially on the relationship between people and the beach.

A family fishing and playing with their dog at sunset. Poetto Beach, Cagliari, June 2014
A group of women doing water aerobics at dawn. Poetto Beach, Cagliari, August 2013
A guy with a kayak heading out from the water in a cold winter day. Poetto Beach, Cagliari, February 2014
A group of guys working out in the promenade. Poetto Beach, Cagliari, June 2014
A family having lunch at a bar on the beach. Poetto Beach, Cagliari, July 2014
Brazilian guys doing capoeira evolutions on the beach. In the background the ruins of a former Hospital. Poetto Beach, Cagliari, August 2014
A child playing on the sea shore at dusk. Poetto Beach, Cagliari, August 2014
A restaurant on the beach. A few months after this picture was taken, this restaurant has been caught by the fire and destroyed. Poetto Beach, Cagliari, October 2013
Girls relaxing in the water at dusk. Poetto Beach, Cagliari, June 2014

Q&A with Claudio Sanna

Photography is…
An obsession, a constant thought. But it is also a way to connect and relate to the world, to explore it and understand it. A way to find yourself in situations in which would be difficult to be without that wonderful passepartout which is photography.

Photography and writing…
I’ve never believed that pictures can tell the whole story. Even when a picture is exceptionally strong it needs a text which explains the background. Especially in documentary photography pictures and words are inseparably linked.

Who left the biggest impression on you?
I believe that my way of taking pictures is the result of a mix of influences from very diverse photographers, such as Davide Monteleone, Vanessa Winship, David Alan Harvey and Alex Webb.

Tell us a little about yourself
Born in Sardinia, an island to much often forgotten by the rest of the country, despite it has a lot of stories to tell. After studies in communication and tourism management and after some time spent working at a desk and being very unhappy, I realized that I would have never been happy living that life and I started to focus on what I’ve always wanted to do.

SannaClaudio Sanna (website), 1985, Italy.
I am an Italian documentary photographer based in Cagliari, Italy. In 2011 I graduated in Communication with a degree thesis about photojournalism. In April 2014 I attended a photographic workshop held by Samuele Pellecchia (Prospekt Photographers), with the participation of Vanessa Winship and George Georgiou. In May 2014 I’ve been selected by the Municipality of Cagliari to be part of Eureca!, a project of visual documentation of a suburban area of the city.

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