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.
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 →
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.
Art & 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 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 →
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 →
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 →
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.
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
Now that the semester is over, I have to say it was really fun to teach both photography and Italian this year. Although formally the classes didn’t have anything in common, it was striking how much they were connected intellectually and as an experience.
For their final project, my students of Italian received the option to discuss a few classic photographs of Italy. As I was working on the assignment to decide what to include in it, so that they would learn both about Italian culture and art, I realized what a huge part of Italian photography is actually photos of Italy, in Italy, by non-Italians.