This project undertakes documentation of the material and oral historical record of traditional fishing practices around which the economic and social structures of Marzamemi and various other small Mediterranean towns were centered for centuries.
Our immediate focus is on the rapidly crumbling remains of the last two boats associated with the mattanza, the communal tuna harvest that has been a key feature of local culture here from at least the early modern period and perhaps much earlier. While the age old spaces of the tuna fishing industry have been meticulously preserved and restored as part of commercial development around the town’s historic core, the remains of the boats themselves lie derelict and exposed to the elements. The human stories that illustrate this practice are similarly fading with time as the last generation of fishermen engaged in traditional practice dwindles. In an effort to preserve this tangible link to the past, the Marzamemi project aims to complete a digital record of these vessels and the local memory associated with their use in the community.
Our methods center on high precision structured light and phase shift scanning to produce a full 3D model of each vessel. Contextualizing this material culture will depend on a series of semistructured interviews with members of the local fishing community, particularly those of the older generations most closely tied to the mattanza. The memory of this maritime practice at Marzamemi served as a crucial window into not only local technological and nautical history but the social dynamics of traditional fishing communities in the Mediterranean, communities that are rapidly transforming in the face of mounting economic, environmental, and political pressures.