Four years ago I started this journey of discovery—well, rediscovery of my land. It started in the southern Italian region of Puglia, where I live, and in Basilicata, a land that I love so much. In the pictures, I try to capture, and perhaps save, moments and scenes of ordinary daily life, as well as moods, moments, faces, gestures and feelings. I am especially searching amidst the streets and alleys of small villages in order to show a world that is being lost but also to demonstrate how much still remains.

In the south of Italy, we find ourselves always poised between the past and a contradictory and difficult present. Between stagnation and progress, ancestral legacies and wild speculations. We hear the old beating and often battered hearts of cities that expand thanks to development too often unsustainable, while the customs and rhythms of everyday life perpetuate in a kind of time that is suspended and still.

I am trying to visually embody a way of life, an existential condition in my images. Through the predominant presence of elderly people, we see those figures that will remain when all the others have gone away without return.

For those who hope, disillusioned, in a better future but in the meantime expect the inevitable end. For those who wonder what you find so interesting to photograph and to look for in the middle of nowhere. For those who are happy to tell you about their lives and the stories of their land. For those who act as guides and invite you into their homes and ask you if those images will end up in the newspapers.

And for the children: with their street games on streets too often hostile and cruel. Difficult neighborhoods, filled with suspicion yet fun, tender yet brazen, hostile then welcoming.

But above all, this is a personal search, an inner journey. A journey still ongoing and never ending, through my vision of a South that is dominated by a time of memory and a place of soul.

—Carmelo Eramo