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.

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