Are we still able to see and experience the landscape? To observe something we must stop and dedicate time and attention to it, but above all curiosity. The problem is that we have stopped being travellers and have been transformed into passengers. Too used to public and private means of transport, we are no longer able to enjoy places, because we no longer really stop in them; we are slaves to rapid consumption and understanding which makes us victims of the consequential… one place after another; in practice we flick through (rather than observe) the landscape around us, as if it were an image in a slide-show.
We look at the landscape in the distance, we give it a rapid glance, we pass through it casually and thus end up interpreting it, because our perception is of a transductive type: it translates and passes through reality. The planning of the passenger, who does not organise himself autonomously but is helped in his movements by travel agencies and transport companies, is at odds with the wanderings of the traveller, who lives adventurously, improvises itineraries, exploits unexpected turns of event and any difficulties which accompany and shape the experience. The artists in this exhibition neither pass through, nor hesitate; they know they must interrupt their course in order fully to understand the world which surrounds them, because the epiphany needs to be situated: the image “is” not the place; rather it “takes” place. Their photographs are urban views, views of a metropolitan reality, sometimes unprecedented, sometimes incredible. Galeotti, Marinelli, Morucchio, Nonino and Savi unveil a path dotted with references which tell us a lot, not only about the specific technique of the medium, but also about a point of view which amounts to a superstructure imposed on the actual architectural element.
Districts, houses, building or industrial sites are the subjects chosen by Samuele Galeotti, who remains at a distance, as if his observation were merely a kind of superficial façade. The result is silent, solitary views in which the human dimension disappears, or in any case is concealed. In each of these photographs there is a perturbing element; this defines a space in which a fovea opens up, i.e. an area which is distinguished by being lighter. In the falansterios infesting the towns and suburbs, Galeotti captures the emanations of light, flashes crackling with life, electrifications which seem to be modern fires of Prometheus.
The idea of geometry plus architecture is a vast obsession which Giovanni Marinelli entrusts to the analogue camera. His photos, printed in single copies directly from the negative, imply a static contemplation, a sort of insidious “wandering” which comes to a halt and awaits resolution. He submits this disorientation to the ambiguity of the upside-down, of an upthrust which raises the skyline to an excessive degree, with an ascensional flight which alters our sense of limits and reality. Against a pitch-black or ice-white sky, the totem-like presence of these monumental/monolithic buildings seems to suggest to the artist the vision of an impregnable hermitage.
Andrea Morucchio instead prefers horizontality (typical of the expanse of the landscape) to the elevation of architectural verticality. He submits this to interplays of shadow which cut across it diagonally. Separating the vision from the context, from urban building blocks, the artist ignores the degradation of the buildings and concentrates on the esprit de géometrie, achieving by extraction and isolation that pure figuration which tends to the methodology of the detail. Through his sharp vision, Morucchio seems to discipline the photo-mechanical image, re-planning the territory and giving it a new significance.
Enrico Savi’s photographs do not document the fleeting moment; on the contrary, they create it, they invent it, they make it happen. Using multiple exposures, the photos are superimposed directly during shooting, thanks to a Holga machine, an optical device which is subject to imperfections.
The images obtained reveal quantitative collisions, in which the buildings seem to implode, to rock on their foundations, exactly like Poe’s House of Usher. Here everything is a shudder, an upheaval, rapid and dynamic like the flickering of the retina, which does not fix itself on one point but continues to wander like a flâneur.
Francesco Nonino combines hundreds of day- and night-time photos into a video (whose title refers to the habitat of common citizens unaware of being watched by a mechanical eye). The video alters natural time to obtain a cultural paradigm. Using chronography, which takes photos at regular intervals over a whole day, the artist has compressed 24 hours into a loop of just a few minutes. But if the running of the video induces a “false movement”, some photographic details arrest the frenzied, indistinct flow, materialising those people who appear imperceptible to our eyes in Nonino’s constant editing.
As we have seen above, photography is something more than simple “reproduction”; it tries in fact to give shape to a vision which is always new, always different. Each image is an expression of its author’s way of being and seeing, an attempt to make the uninhabitable habitable, drawing the line between the aesthetic and ethical aspects of the photo-mechanical medium.