Hanging Houses : Ettore Moni

An architectural and anthropological research along the banks of the river Po. Attentive to the landscape, but focused on housing. Stilts, boats, barges beached like whales. Hanging houses in a world a part. Details on the border with the city, because it is discovered that you want to talk to them, the mansion built by the mighty river. The hanging houses. Between everything that moves constantly and the will of man to put down roots. Among the tales of a never ending story and metaphorical signs of a past not yet forgotten. Inside the landscape created by the force of the Po.


Text and images © Ettore Moni





You climb the stairs. From the top it is possible to overlook the landscape and to look far, often beyond the sinuous curve of the river at the poplars tops. In those houses, the perspective is suspended as when you drive around with your car or bike on the dyke and the plain is below and you feel like you are elevated between sky and earth. It is a fantastic and unreal dimension. Below those houses there’s void and on the stilt-houses is like living lightly, waiting for the wind bringing a voice or a noise from far away. Because the river’s dimension is still made of superhuman silences which just a crow’s call or a blow of the wind on a dusty road can break off as if a God was just passed by.


Guido Conti, Le case sospese sul fiume, 2014





The hanging houses are just one of the way in which you can enjoy the river through Ettore Moni’s pictures. Besides the houses hanging in the air, there are also the houses hanging on the water, looking for a direct contact with the flowing and its turbulences. There is one in particular which draws the attention and can explain this phenomena. A big house being above two big boats: it is the last piece of an old bridge made of boats which crossed the river before the revolution of concrete bridges built around Seventy’s. Even in this way of enjoying the river there is something modern and something ancient melt together.


Guido Conti, Le case sospese sul fiume, 2014





These continuous squaring of the circle, these orderly collocations of the apparent disorder that you can see walking next to the Po’s shore can be clearly understood bearing in mind that these pictures are not at all instantaneous: Ettore Moni moves slowly, with his plates camera and his tripod, setting up the vision continuously. For every shutter he needs to find the right point of view and the right moment, to assemble tripod and camera, to confirm the framing that appears upside down on the ground glass, to evaluate the fine tuning and, only at that point, to put in use the operations which take to the plate stamp. We are very far from the “see and shoot”; in other words this means to replace the agreement of heart-brain-eye-camera that just in a crucial moment fulfils the tell-tale image (as Henri Cartier-Bresson states) with accurate triangulations among the description project, the scenario which spreads in front of him and the image creation.


Paolo Barbaro, Rivierasca, 2014


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We don’t know very much about the goers of these places, we just know that they are neither the Bachelli’s fishermen nor the occasional tourists or the hovercraft owners. It is clear that these are not everyday places. We are in a middle space, placed between urban and rural culture. We know that many of these buildings – most of which can be defined illicit- become, with the passage of time, locations for informal associations and communities committed to friendly activities with a little ritual connotation. Maybe the typological least common denominator is the thatched hut, legendary place of the minimum dwell and play, middle space and ritual transition between the childhood, still able to astonish itself and the adulthood with its responsible autonomy. Maybe is for this reason that the huts, higher on their supports, remind us, with the perception of a possible overflow, Baba Yaga’s hut and its chicken legs.


Paolo Barbaro, Rivierasca, 2014

Translated by Mariarosaria Luongo

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