Saltpetre Villages in the Antofagasta Desert was realized by Stefano Nicolini in Northern Chile in 2004. Consistent with his conceptual position, the photographer keeps the human presence away from the viewfinder of his camera, not meaning that he does not look for man among the structures which man himself has built in such an inhospitable environment. On the contrary, Nicolini leaves us with the dilemma concerning his opinion towards man and the stories told in this photo gallery. He praises man's work by showing us the clean lines of architectural structures which challenge boundless spaces, more remains than ruins, emphatically lingering on constructions and infrastucture admirably survived despite decades of oblivion.

At the same time, however, he reminds us of the overcoming of nature with photos which immortalize ruined houses, skeletonized furnishings, abandonment.
An interpretative dualism which is transferred also to a stylistic level. He alternates more contrasted photographs with others in which the blinding light of the Antofagasta desert prevails, crossing the photo frame and striking the observer so as to tell him that in such a natural environment man could not prevail.

Pedro de Valdivia's smoking smokestacks, a car driving along a deserted street in Maria Elena, a wagon wandering in the bareness of the horizon, however, leave history and these photographs suspended between past and future, between dream and reality. Themes which Nicolini holds dear, thus conveying his own anxiety at the thought of leaving both the oneiric dimension and the natural element behind, replacing them with a new dimension still neither sufficiently experienced nor sufficiently pursued.