South (Review)

Children of Unquiet

Mikhail Karikis at Villa Romana, Florence, Italy 3 July – 28 August, 2014.

Text by Michelangelo Corsaro.

In 1904 a few light bulbs were lit in a pioneering experiment, using for the first time a geothermal generator powered by the hot steam coming from the volcanic ground of the region of Larderello, in Tuscany. The area where the world’s first geothermal power plant was built in 1911 is named Devil’s Valley because it was believed to have inspired Dante’s Inferno. Until recent times this was a thriving region, where a group of around five thousand people lived in modernist industrial villages planned by Italian architect Giovanni Michelucci. The story told by Mikhail Karikis in his film Children of Unquiet begins with the depopulation of this area, due to the introduction of automated and remote operation technologies and the consequent rise of unemployment. The buildings that once housed the workers from the plant are now abandoned, together with the semi-utopian plans for the development of this region. The research of Mikhail Karikis is an attempt to envision the future of this area, turning to the imagination of a group of local children who are given the task to picture possible developments of this bleak scenario. Karikis invented a board game staged in the region, where the winner is not the player who makes the highest profits from the power plant but the one who gets to keep the highest number of workers in the community. Good intentions that unfortunately don’t match with a reality where children cannot imagine a future for themselves in the place where they were born. Perfectly installed in the venue of Villa Romana, the work that Karikis produced with local kids from the Larderello region is the last remainder of a failed development, which eventually ruled out the chance to build a happy human community.