Stefania Miravalle's photograph Sleeping Space captures a sense of calm and durability in Turin's International Fruit and Vegetable Market, despite its uncertain future
Sleeping Space, 2019
Nikon f810 with 24mm shift lens
Commissioned by the Municipality of Turin in 1928, five years after Giacomo Matté-Trucco’s Lingotto factory for Fiat was completed, the city’s International Fruit and Vegetable Market, opened in 1934, is proof that the modernist apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Designed by architect Umberto Cuzzi, and addressing Fiat over the railway tracks, two huge sheds, each formed of seven aisles of connected, reinforced concrete parabolic arches, face each other across a large central yard. Out of action for a period after Allied bombing, it otherwise remained in fruitful service to the city until 2002.
But since then, as Turin-born photographer Stefania Miravalle explains, the market came into more contingent use. First, as a makeshift athlete’s hub during the city’s 2006 Winter Olympics, followed by a short if glamorous stint as gallery space for Turin’s Museum of Modern Art. But most interesting perhaps was its illegal occupation by over 1000 migrants from 2013, who turned it into a dormitory block on the grandest of scales. Sheltering there despite the abandoned building’s propensity to leak, they were finally evicted in 2019, when Miravalle took this photo.
Vacant again in a post-Covid, cash-strapped world, the dreams for its regeneration remain; the most recent plan mooted was that it might take an academic turn as Turin’s ‘Institute of Artificial Intelligence’. Yet despite it all, the space somehow retains its inherent municipal grace; a paean to principles of ‘long life, loose fit,’ whose overarching dignity the migrants fully understood.