Photographer Alessandro Tricarico at work | Source: Alessandro Tricarico’s website –
Photographer Alessandro Tricarico at work | Source: Alessandro Tricarico’s website –

An art installation in Foggia will commemorate the 16 migrant farmworkers who died in two road accidents in August 2018 in the countryside near the southern city.

A huge installation -- 30-meter-long arms picking tomatoes - is being made by artist Alessandro Tricarico on top of the former Casillo factory on the outskirts of the southern city of Foggia, in the Puglia region. The artwork, made with the contribution of humanitarian organization Intersos, wants to commemorate two deadly road accidents in August 2018 in the countryside near Foggia in which 16 farmworkers died.

The accidents highlighted the plight of farmworkers in the area, where thousands of foreigners spend the summer harvesting tomatoes, often at the mercy of gangmasters.

'Only arms'

Four people died on August 4 two years ago in the first accident along the provincial highway connecting Ascoli Satriano to Castelluccio dei Sauri. Two days later, in the area of Ripalta, another 12 farmworkers died while they were returning home after a day in the fields. The installation is called "Solo braccia" (only arms). The word is also used like the English phrase to lend a pair of hands, or to refer to hiring help. Bracciante for instance is translated as a farmhand. It is inspired by the work of Swiss writer Max Frisch who over 30 decades ago  wrote about Italian migrants in Switzerland.

''We wanted arms [or farmhands], human beings arrived'', he said. The 32x23-meter artwork will be completed by August 7-8. Alessandro Verona, a doctor who works for Intersos, remembered the two road accidents. He said that the bodies under "those 16 white sheets covered fathers, sons - men who were only perceived as arms, whose rights were denied," along with the suffering they endured ''during their migratory journey, including brutality in Libya'', Verona noted.

Farmworker wounded: controls intensified

Meanwhile the prefect of Foggia, Raffaele Grassi, has announced that security forces will intensify controls in areas populated by migrants after a 22-year-old Nigerian citizen on August 4 was shot in the leg and arm with an air gun while he was cycling to to work in the fields.

"I will order the intensification of controls in areas populated by foreigners," the prefect declared. The victim was allegedly approached by two people on a scooter who opened fire. "Investigators are trying to better understand the dynamics of the shooting," added Grassi.

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