About Ellie

Fine art photography, contemporary art.

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

 

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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

 

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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