Monday, July 18, 2011

Mobile report #2 - Occhi Rossi

In a summer that's unfolding as busy as the worst cloudy October, I have been leaving on hold my posting plans for this poor neglected blog of mine, one of which was to share another exhibition report after the one you can find right below. This time it is not about single bodies of work, nor about any slick and stylish gallery space, but rather about the great feeling that can come when the enthousiasm of a large number of people meet a space so special that it merges with the photographs and the installations to become one big, whole fascinating thing.

Occhi Rossi is a festival devoted to promote "an independent photographic culture", an exhibition galore driven by the motto "show yourself", where countless photographers bring their work and set up freely their own photoshows, all in the name of going beyond the usual channels of distribution, diffusion and promotion. The result is an amazing sea of photographs on show through the tunnels of Forte Prenestino, a XIX fortress in Rome which has been one of the powerhouses of the squat culture and self-funding arts of the city for the last twenty years.

Being so used to a photographic culture ruled either by the cult of the author or the dictatorship of the subject matter, walking around those thousands of images was refreshing in many ways, bringing back photography to the joy of making something happen, something fun and serious at the same time. For once the whole thing was not about career, status or success, but it was just about the love of many people for what they do. The festival just closed its third edition, and over the years I could also see that the quality of the works on display has somehow improved, as if it was really a collective subject growing more mature edition after edition.

There might not have been any next big thing hiding among the avalanche of more or less amateur or solid photographs at Occhi Rossi this year, or perhaps I could not spot it, lost in the beautiful overload of the festival's line-up. But it's the same concept of the project that does not aim at highlighting single talents, because here the sum will always be greater the parts - there's no room for prima donnas at Occhi Rossi.


Friday, July 8, 2011

Mobile report #1 - 'Milano, un minuto prima'

Milano, un minuto prima. Nuove visioni di una città is an exhibition currently at Forma in Milan, co-curated by Matteo Balduzzi, Arianna Rinaldo, Giulia Tornari and Francesco Zanot. Each of the curators chose a few artists gathered under the common theme of the city of Milan, elaborated in many different ways and expressing various photographic styles, going from documentary to reportage, from a conceptual approach to a personal diary. I visited the exhibition last week and grabbed some mobile phone shots of the installation, hope you'll enjoy the small virtual tour.

Fabrizio Bellomo, Le più belle vedute di milano e non vedo niente di diverso (btw, his website rocks)

Alessandro Imbriaco, Via Dante n. 2

Nicolò Degiorgis, Islam Nascosto

Maurizio Cogliandro, Credimi

Mirko Smerdel, I Vostri Grattacieli/2010

Nothing To See Here, magazine curated by Francesco Jodice for Naba

Massimiliano Foscati - Bernd Kleinheisterkamp, Outside My Door

Suddenly a corner of the gallery struck my attention: pieces of paper with some text were lined up on the wall together with small prints, all neatly nailed onto it, with no frames. The typewriting of the text somehow matched the quiet tone of the square photographs, showing interior and urban scenes, both colour and black and white, sharp and beautifully composed images, with that unspecified quality that in Italy we are used to call 'northern European'. And yet the images were deeply emotional, whether they were showing people walking on a street, a dog cuddling in the middle of a room, a man ironing his clothes, they had something really strong flowing through them.

Then I realised it was the text, those words were holding me in that corner of the gallery, forcing me to slow down the pace and telling me when and how to move from one image to the other. I remember little of what they said, other than it was the story of a man's crisis, private sufferings recalled in a handful of blue sheets of papers, written by Massimiliano Foscati and photographed by Bernd Kleinheisterkamp. Words and photographs rarely get such nourishment from each other, and I was so moved by the text that I had to photograph it, so I could have read it again, and I could have looked at it again, almost as if it was another photograph in the show. I'm posting one excerpt right below here - I hope the author won't mind.