I've never been here
I've never met this people
I've never been driving right
into a milk bottle
like we were when it was fog
— Anders Petersen

On May 20th, 2012, at 4:03:52, a crack opened in the earth's crust under a village near Modena called Finale Emilia, where for more than a thousand years the territory of Emilia has ended and the rest has begun. Two huge blocks of land overlapped, sliding and crashing against each other, trying to steal each other's space, like fiery, claustrophobic giants. Sixty thousand and three hundred meters above, on the surface, the ground rose by 15 centimeters. The buildings' foundations began to swing, cracks made their ways through the plaster walls. It lasted for twenty seconds. Then the streets quickly filled with men and women in their pajamas, scared to death. All but seven, who would never come out.

In the following weeks, the earthquake rattled Bondeno, Mirabello, Medolla, San Possidonio and Novi. It reverberated everywhere in the provinces of Modena, Reggio Emilia, Ferrara, Mantova, Rovigo, Bologna. Over two months, 2,300 aftershocks left almost thirty people dead and a society in shock. Cars were smashed by the debris of the buildings under which they had been parked. Entire factories crumpled, and looked suddenly fragile. Jackals stole uniforms from rescue teams in order to pillage the evacuated houses. Those who had been evacuated screamed at the other jackals: the TV crews. Palaces without facades, whose furniture could be seen from the street. Castles and bells towers torn down without dignity with dynamite. Everywhere, barriers and dust.

A people that wakes every morning on a broken land can have only one goal left: pull it together. So week after week, doctors went back to heal their patients, factory workers to cast their girders, cheese makers to sell their cheese and builders to erect houses.
Studio Blanco contributed with what they do best: a visual story to join together Emilia's faces and places, as if to ward off the possibility that the crumbling of the land could be followed by the crumbling of the people who lived on it.

To tell this story, they invited Swedish photographer Anders Petersen, a man who has nothing to do with these places, but who has made raw and moving reportages about vulnerability for more than forty years. Over eight days in November 2012, Studio Blanco brought Petersen to toll roads and museums, riversides and devastated squares, letting him photograph wherever, whomever, however he liked, with the idea that only an outsider could find and capture the spirit that keeps these lands together.

A young contortionist, a knotty tree trunk, two elderly people dancing in a ballroom. One year after the earthquake, Petersen's photos create a small poem about Emilia, which sews up that deep crack and returns this land, whole, to the humanity that has always belonged here.
— Cosimo Bizzarri


Anders Petersen
Born in 1944 in Stockholm, Sweden.
Lives and works in Sweden.

Anders Petersen is noted for his intimate and personal documentary-style black-and-white photographs. Petersen has exhibited internationally and won numerous prizes during his career. His first project, Café Lehmitz, was started soon after he had completed his studies with Christer Strömholm's School of Photography in Sweden in the late 1960s.
Photographing the late-night regulars (prostitutes, transvestites, drunks, lovers, drug addicts) of Café Lehmitz, a bar in Hamburg, the project was published in 1978 and has since become a seminal book in the history of European photography. One of the photos from this series was later used as the cover art for Tom Waits' 1985 album Rain Dogs.

In 1970, he co-founded SAFTRA, the Stockholm group of photographers, with Kenneth Gustavsson. At the same time, he taught at Christer Stromholm's school and has been director of the Göteborg School of Photography and Film. In the mid-1980s Petersen focused his attention on people in locked institutions: prisons, a nursing home and a mental hospital.

Since then he has published over 25 books observing people at the margins of society.

He regularly has workshops and exhibitions throughout Europe, Asia and the USA. He has received numerous grants and rewards since the 1970s.
In 2003 he was elected Photographer of the Year by the International Photofestival, Arles. In 2006 he was short-listed as one of four for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2007.
In 2007 he received the Special Prize of the Jury for his exhibition Exaltation of Humanity at the third International Photofestival, Lianzhou, China. In 2008, he received the Dr Erich Salomon Award by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Photographie, Germany.

Several Petersen's books won international awards such as From Back Home (2009, with JH Engstrom) which won the Rencontres d'Arles Book Award or City Diary (2013) which won the Paris Photo's Photobook Awards.


Founded in 2005 in Reggio Emilia by Sara and Valerio Tamagnini, Studio Blanco creates conversation projects via multidisciplinary mediums. Combining creative spirit and precise strategies, the Studio deals with art direction and digital design, collaborating with Clients such as Bottega Veneta, Max Mara, John Galliano, Yohji Yamamoto, Moleskine, Sportmax and calling upon an international network of artists, photographers, musicians and curators to help execute their vision. Concurrent to its business activity, Blanco also promotes editorial initiatives and events, acting as a cultural consultant.

"Attention to details, the ability to suggest innovative solutions both visually and conceptually but with the lightness and unassuming nature of an individual who has no interest in the obvious - these are just some of the features that mark Studio Blanco's approach. Discreet, accurate, and professional they have built a network of esteemed artists, photographers and musicians that have similar approaches in going beyond tradition. These new artistic unions nurture and bring out our most intimate sensibilities. Every time individuals from this curated network of creatives are drawn to Reggio Emilia to question their own assumptions. By choice, they've chosen to be placed on the margin — both geographically and mentally — that allows them to see and be different. By reducing their thought and sense of being, they add an elevated sense. Faraway but yet so close."
— Federica Sala, introduction to "Instant Design" exhibition, Triennale Museum, Milan, 2011


To Belong a project by
Anders Petersen and Studio Blanco

In partnership with
SlamJam and Fotografia Europea

In collaboration with
Centroffset and Arctic Paper

With the precious support of
Francesco Bellei, I Love My Kitchen, Hotel Touring Carpi
and Ristorante La Bottiglieria Carpi

Studio Blanco would like to thank
Anders Petersen, Cosimo Bizzarri, Corrado Nuccini, Agnese Morganti, Daniele Sarti, everybody at SlamJam, Fotografia Europea, La Bottiglieria and Hotel Touring, Andrea Bracco at Arctic Paper, Sandro Campani at Centroffset, Umberto Cavicchioli at Francesco Bellei, Giulio Bacicchi and Federico
Baldi at I Love My Kitchen

And also
Caitlin Hu, Alberto Bobbera, Michela Pelizzari and Federica Sala, Marco Cendron and Alessandro Cavallini, Lucia Leoni, Michele Galliano, Rinaldo Sassi, Nicoletta Vasini, Fabio Bega, Marco Chiussi, Associazione Mumbleduepunti, American Circus, Massimo Grillenzoni, Matteo Keemani, Adam Ferlin, Jukka Reverberi, Fernando Ferioli, Mensa associazione Viale K Ferrara, Maria Rosa Testoni at Casa Residenza Finale Emilia, Eva Chiara Ferraresi at scuola di danza Tersicore.


Project art direction and design by
Studio Blanco

Photos by
Anders Petersen

Digital editing by
Erhan Akbulut

Text by
Cosimo Bizzarri

Translations by
Caitlin Hu

Video by
Daniele Sarti, Corrado Nuccini, Agnese Morganti

To Belong project is supported by


Please select your region:
ITALY (€ 36,00) — Buy the book
E.U. (€ 42,00) — Buy the book
NON-E.U. (€ 55,00) — Buy the book

Feel free to contact us for multiple copies

To Belong book specs:
58 pages
43 b/w plates
22,5 cm x 30 cm
Cloth cover with embossing on front and spine with a tipped-in image on front and foil stamp on back
Japanese page binding
Printed on Arctic Paper Munken Polar White, 90g/m2
Publication date: May 2013