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12 December1955
The dam
Ottavio Barbisio
Music & sound design by Francesco Paolino

When, on 12 December 1955 at dusk on a beautiful late autumn day, cinematographer Ottavio Barbisio shot the Monteponi dam in southern Sardinia with his 16mm camera, it seemed as if Italy was on its way to becoming a hydroelectric republic founded on dams. In these roaring years, dams are being built all over the peninsula and also on the islands: dams and reservoirs are a frontier of modernity and an energy resource in which to invest, counting on unlimited faith in technical and technological progress. The impact on the landscape will be considerable and the ambitions and contradictions that characterise the race for the 'blue gold', water, will soon be seen. For now, we remain dazzled by these works and the evocative landscape captured by the camera. In Monteponi, the dam was tested a few months before Barbisio's visit, but on the dam you can read the date two years earlier, which corresponds to the start of construction. The work, classified as a 'large dam', was built by the Società Mineraria Monteponi to allow the supply of fresh water to the plants used for the electrolytic extraction of various metals, mainly zinc and cadmium, thus for a specific use related to the mines in the area. When the Sardinian mines close, the function of this dam will also cease and it will remain a plant of industrial archaeology and another tangible piece of the memory of industry, labour, architecture and the transformation of the landscape of our country.