Traveling flowers and other stories

Nicoletta Grillo

The national boundary line that separates the Italian region of Lombardy and the Swiss region of Ticino is today highly dematerialized and mostly invisible. Yet, it continues to exist as a "borderscape", reproduced by a series of crossing practices - such as frontalierato (cross-border work) and migration - and by their associated representations and imaginaries. Through oral history, photography, and performative walks, the project considers how the border is kept alive or contested by those practices that routinely traverse the two countries. The starting point is the story of some female workers employed in a border shirt factory. At the end of their working day, they used to go to the border woods to harvest lily of the valley.

Photo Credit: Nicoletta Grillo

Nicoletta Grillo studied architecture at Politecnico di Milano and photography at CFP Bauer in Milan. Her work is based upon the use of photography, oral history, and performative practices to confront the social landscape from a gendered perspective. Since 2018 she has been pursuing a double Ph.D. between the Department of Architecture and Urban Studies of Politecnico di Milano (IT) and the Lieven Gevaert Research Centre for Photography, Art and Visual Culture of KU Leuven (BE), developing theoretical and practical research on the potential of photography to counter-represent borderscapes and open new spaces of imagination, with a focus on the Swiss Italian border area.