About Ellie

Fine art photography, contemporary art.

The ethics of photographing empty squares – and photographing the invisible

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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.
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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

Possible Convergences

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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

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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

Do you collect photos of people you don’t know?

Looking at found photos

Vernacular photography – often defined as “authorless”, but in reality, made by the same people who use it, for themselves or family/friends, or, alternatively,  commercial but made directly for consumers (e.g. the Sears portrait service) – has been gaining a lot of attention in the past few years or decades. If you are a photographer yourself, you know the writings of Geoffrey Batchen, who was the engine of the research of that type of photography with his books, especially Each Wild Idea. Continue reading

Disappeared and back again

Toy camera fans, did you hear the news? The Holga is back.

One of the first posts on this blog, seven years ago, was about a roll of Kodachrome. As Kodak was discontinuing the production of its legendary film, the last lab capable of developing its unique process was ending its work, too. So I caught the chance and shot one roll of Kodachrome myself.

That last roll was actually also my first. While for most everyone else the pull of the film was nostalgia, for me it was something I could only define as second-hand nostalgia. I didn’t have access to Kodachrome while growing up, of course, but experienced its allure as part of the allure of the American dream – yet when I was able to access it, the dream had changed. Continue reading

Fashion photography in a new light (Bruce Weber at the Dallas Contemporary)

 

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Lonneke Engel for Versus, 1996, gracefully shot by Bruce Weber

Bruce Weber, a noted fashion photographer with a long and distinguished career, is having a retrospective exhibition at the Dallas Contemporary. It is fascinating for many reasons, but first of all because an exhibition venue known mainly for installations and projections has dedicated almost its entire gigantic space to a solo show of this kind of “traditional” photography. But also – and especially – because it offers an unusual view of fashion photography as it is.
Continue reading

Tablecloths, a solo exhibition at Langdon Center, Tarleton University

 

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If you are in Texas, you are invited to my solo exhibition Tablecloths at Langdon Center (Tarleton University), in Granbury, TX.

Reception: October 29, 5-8pm
Visit: Oct 31 ottobre – Dec 14, 2016
Langdon Center, 308 E Pearl St. Granbury, TX
Hours: 10am-4pm, Mon-Sat

The exhibition includes a series of large format cyanotype photograms on silk and cotton that simultaneously presents and questions the idea of home, using the centerpiece of the tablecloth as a conceptual device. Using 3-dimensional surfaces in tables, corners, steps and thresholds, the photo-sensitive fabric captures shadows and direct contact and then fixes the ephemeral sensation of feeling at home through the photographic process. Still, thanks to the optical distortions (and the added stains)  home looks like a perceptual illusion.  Continue reading