5 unusual photography spots in Milan

I am often asked for recommendations of places in Milan, both as photographic subjects and settings. Many of the inquirers are looking for the must-see places – those that are in the tourist guides and every visitor deems mandatory. That bucket list of landmarks are the Duomo, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele + the luxury fashion streets nearby (via Montenapoleone and via Della Spiga), the Sforza Castle and Arco della Pace. And indeed, they are spectacular and also within a limited perimeter, so one can cover them within a day. But unless you have a specific idea in mind or a lot of time to find it, these pictures will look just like everyone else’s.

Is that wrong? Of course not. I firmly believe that photographing landmarks that everyone else has checked off is not just a rite for tourists but also an act of communion for all of us. By photographing them, we stand in the same place and look to experience the same connection that so many others have done as well. We are not looking for originality or photographic recognition but belonging and sharing. Photographing in general is relating to one’s subject matter, so it’s totally legitimate to do what everyone else has already done.

However, if you have checked those off your list and want to experience some less-known places, here is what I recommend.

Entryways

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Continue reading

Talking to beginners

Mistake

An accidental image I recently discovered on my cell phone.

When does the moment come, for you, in which you lose the sense of being a beginner as you transition to the feeling of having mastered something? Are you aware of its coming, when it actually comes?

Most importantly, though, do you still recall what it feels like to be a beginner? I don’t mean remembering what exactly you did, but the embodied perception of not being sure how to move your hands and body in what you were doing, along with the exhilaration when things actually work?

I recently, almost by chance, joined an online group populated mostly by beginners in photography. Continue reading

5 books artists should read in 2021

It has been an atrocious year for the arts. For artists, it has been the worst not just because of logistic inconveniences and failed opportunities, but also – or frankly, especially – because of the sudden loss of hope. Questions and questioning has been brutal. Some of us have asked ourselves if things will ever go back to normal. Others, if the institutions our art world was built on will survive. And the worst question: “what is the meaning and the significance of what I do? Does it matter at all?” So now that the light at the end of the tunnel is almost visible, here is something to use our remaining time on before the grand reopen and help find that meaning to start again. Here are 5 books that can be guides in finding one’s way across the rocks.

ArtandFearArt & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland came out years ago, but it is still one of the most recommended books for artists. It is not about professional development, how to put oneself out there or working with a gallery, but the most underestimated obstacle there is: the fears and anxieties within the loneliness of the studio. Continue reading

The ethics of photographing empty squares – and photographing the invisible

DomenicoZunino

The Piazza Duomo in Milan. Photo by Domenico Zunino, Celotto/Getty Images

Nobody thought this would become an ethical issue, right?

The image you see on the left is next to impossible to achieve in normal circumstances. The square in front of the Duomo in Milan is always crowded, bustling with people. But this emptiness is real right now. After the official lockdown of Italy started, in spurts, on February 21 – first schools and cultural institutions, then stores and churches, and finally most workplaces closed – we are currently at a point that everyone needs a self-produced affidavit stating the urgent reason forcing them to be in the street. Continue reading

Museum Bathrooms

This is not about art, nor exhibitions, even though it is about museums. It is about their use of a space that is often overlooked but has an enormous impact on the visitor experience.

The bathroom at OGR, or the former gigantic railway repair shop in Turin, Italy, now an imposing contemporary art center.

Bathrooms are a non-place that not only is transitory, it is also supposed to remain unnoticed by its users. Attention is paid to a bathroom only when something is wrong with it, but it inevitably leaves a subliminal impact on its users’ minds. However, in a museum, a bathroom has a special place in the visitors’ consciousness.  Continue reading

The Museum of Innocence at FotoFest 2020

If you follow this blog, you know how important FotoFest Biennial has been for me, for its role in the world of contemporary photography. Its international, groundbreaking exhibition give deep thought to topics, angles and geographic areas that are not well know outside of their boundaries; a rich community and meeting place for photography curators, museum professionals and gallerists with photographers and connoisseurs. For me personally FotoFest has been crucial in my work as a photographer with its inspiration to a larger international community. Continue reading

That photoless Vogue issue

One of seven Vogue Italia cover options, a painting by Vanessa Beecroft, January 2020. Vanessa Beecroft uses painting as well as performance as her chosen medium to change our perception of the body in public spaces. This is her first artistico format into fashion, in her words.

When the news of the latest Vogue Italia issue came out, everybody shared it on social media or, at the minimum, read about it. It made that momentous splash due to the promise that no photography was employed in its making – and that was an added feature to make its production environmentally sustainable.

It is frankly the first time anyone has made the case of photography being an environmentally unfriendly medium. After all, it doesn’t employ harmful chemicals anymore, nor does it necessarily waste paper. If it does, that applies to art photography, not the commercial means of diffusion of information and persuasion. However, as director Emanuele Farneti explains in his editorial statement, a Vogue photoshoot implies hundreds of people traveling thousands of miles to make it happen. Painting, drawing and other tabletop artmaking only requires staying put. Continue reading

The Haunted Archive

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

An exhibition that has been in the works for several months is opening on March 1 at the Fort Worth Community Art Center in Fort Worth, TX. The Haunted Archive is an exhibition of post-photography, curated by me and featuring photographs, paintings, collages and installations by eight artists, based throughout the United States.

It includes works by Rachel Black, Kimberly Chiaris, Angela Johnson, Priya Suresh Kambli, Devon Nowlin, elin o’Hara slavick, JP Terlizzi and Melanie Walker.

This exhibition explores the vernacular family photograph as a visual, emotional and social topos. Continue reading

Art and Activism (book review)

The textbook for the Art Appreciation class I taught last year offered a chapter on protest art, an umbrella term encompassing artwork related to contestation – from caricatures of the 18th and 19th century to Pussy Riot performances. I asked students: why do the first examples of protest art – according to the textbook, at least – came into existence only a couple of centuries ago? Was conflict not there before, or perhaps it didn’t employ art? While this depends on the definition we choose for conflict and for art, what is normally conserved and transmitted through time is institutionally sponsored art; if it expresses conflict, that will be with other institutions and it would definitely not be considered protest art today. This led to an interesting discussion on how conflict and art intersect and how protest can be even identified in past cultural phenomena.
Continue reading

Two Italian Masters

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

When American troops disembarked in Sicily (1943), some soldiers stationed in Palermo had their portrait done by local painter Benedetto Zangara. They also brought their military-ration powdered milk and hard biscuits for his baby son. Then the war ended and the baby grew with the stories that he owed his life to those biscuits and those soldiers. He also grew up to be an artist and today is one of the pillars of the international MADI movement. Continue reading

Possible Convergences

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The 091 Projects/Rizzuto Gallery in Palermo, showed my work along with artist Stefania Fabrizzi. Titled Possible Convergences (June 31-July 14), the two-person exhibition was curated by Cristina Costanzo, an art scholar, critic and writer.

My work included in this show was from the portfolio Hidden Metrics ID. However, it ultimately made for a different exhibition because of the different format it has evolved in. Continue reading

The Museum of Home Touch

The Museum of Home Touch, a participatory installation at Sunset Art Studios. May 12, 2018

As I mentioned in my previous post, during my residency at Sunset Art Studios I worked on a series of cyanotypes that combined physical traces of a home, memory and the physical experience related to them. In these photograms, home could be seen through objects associated with it that physically touched the surface of the fabric or paper and so transferred the sense of presence to the photographic representation.

But along with that ongoing project, I worked on another one that had been on my idea list for some time.  Continue reading

Neighborhoods of the Heart

Neighborhoods of the Heart, at Sunset Art Studios

Last December, I was invited to be the visiting artist at the Center for Creative Connections at the Dallas Museum of Art in the summer of 2018. This great honor involved developing a series of programs, based on my artistic process and concept, to connect visitors of the museum to the works in the collection and a larger idea. Continue reading

Hidden ID at Savignano sul Rubicone, Italy

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My first solo exhibition in Italy will open next week at Savignano sul Rubicone. It will be in conjunction with SI Fest Off, a festival of photography in its 26th edition, and is related to this year’s theme of the festival: Dialectic Strategies.

Hidden ID is a series of pinhole images that juxtapose public identity to interior privacy through using the metaphor of the archive as a substitution for the construction of the self. The images are based on a hybrid pinhole capture with in-camera photogram elements.  Continue reading