Giovanni Troilo – La Villenoire

LA VILLENOIRE Charleroi, La Ville Noire (The Black City), a small town close to Bruxelles, symbolizes by itself the whole of Europe. The collapse of the industrial manufacturing, the rising unemployment, the increasing immigration, the outbreak of micro-criminality.

The regression of the social welfare, the lack of a shared identity. This feature is a journey to the roots of my family, which moved from Italy to the district of Charleroi in 1956 to work in the steel industry. Two generations have already succeeded in the promised land and, in the meantime, everything has changed. At this crossroad many populations united under the same roof of working opportunities were left without anything to share, as work vanished.

Today social unease combines with the lives of the citizens. The roads, once blooming and neat, appear today desolated and abandoned, industries are closing down and spontaneous vegetation eats the old industrial districts. The same thing in a broader scale is happening in Europe.

This project invites people to gaze into the very heart of Europe, unlike most stories of this genre which tend to be focused on the margins of Europe. Does it make any sense to stay together when the initial mission has almost failed? Will it be possible to have another chance? This is the question for Europe, this is the question for the dark heart of Europe. I’m a son of this culture I investigated, and what pushed me to tell this story was an investigation on my own identity.

My family moved from Italy to the district of Charleroi in 1956 to work in the coal industry. Half of my family still lives there, which is why I was granted such privileged and immediate access into the world I have captured in my photographs.

The idea of the project was born a few years ago. My desire was to tell through this vicinity, through this relationship with these places and people this irritating, thorny theme. Our story is tied up with the European Community, with the political and social arguments that the introduction of the Union implied in our lives, dreams and ambitions.

Director and photographer, Troilo moves between the world of cinema, television, publishing, and advertising. He began filming and taking photographs at a young age; by now, nearly twenty years later, the list of his important collaborative projects is impressive.
Troilo’s work has been published in Newsweek Japan, Der Spiegel, D magazine (La Repubblica newspaper), GQ Italy, CNN, Wired Italy, Wired UK, Wired Corea, Wired Germany, Ventiquattro, Wallpaper, GQ Spain, Io Donna, Flair, Sport&Street, Velvet and Urban.
In 2011 he directed Fan Pio, his first feature length film, and published in Germany his first book, Apulien, awarded as best photographic book at the International Photography Awards in 2012. Troilo has also directed a number of commercials, videos and a series of short films. Between 2012 and 2014 Troilo directed three series of documentaries about famous Italian photographers for Sky Arte HD, Photographers. In 2015 with the project La Ville Noire, The Dark Heart of Europe he was awarded as People Photographer of the Year at Sony World Photography Awards.
Director of photography on Il Primo Incarico for RAI Cinema, in competition at the 67th Venice Film Festival, more recently Troilo was director of photography on Montedoro, Antonello Faretta’s directorial debut, and of documentaries produced by Sky Arte, RAI, La 7, History Channel and Cult.
Having been a member of the LuzPhoto agency until 2014, Troilo is currently working on a documentary about the South African artist William Kentridge, on his second feature length film, and on several photographic projects.
Giovanni Troilo, 37, was born in Putignano. He graduated in Economics with a degree on Geography of Development.