Across the Atlantic Ocean but in reverse… Beyond the words of essayist Paul Gilroy and artist Johny Pitts, the Black Lives Matter movement shouts <STOP Police Violence… STOP Racism>. In Milan as in Minneapolis. Black and white frames that leave the beauty of the melting pot in my mind… Time ago Italian the band Almamegretta sang “Athena was black”… Today it’s right to remember our common history so as not to make mistakes again. (All shots taken with Olympus OM-D E-M5 + Zuiko 17mm f21.8 + Zuiko 75mm f1.8)
The crowd in the S.Siro South Stand moves and sings in unison, the team in heart and mind. But if you look closely at this three-dimensional mass, you can see the faces of the individual football supporters. Every face has a story. More than the football players’ performances, these faces have immediately attracted me and continue to attract me. These individual souls are the fuel of competition, but each also changes the dimension and profile of the mass. (All frames taken with Olympus OM-D E-M5)
Just over a week to Brexit.
Brexit and Londoners show a hunched and at times uncertain gait.
This time I decided to abandon b&w and to choose color: I needed to record as much information as possible.
Through my lens colors became faded, people blurred.
Nobody seems to think about the future, they seem to prefer turning their backs on the troubling days to come.
I looked for the most frequent keywords used to describe Brexit in newspapers and… combined them with the frames.
BREXIT COMIN’… People remain…
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Memories and faces cut the darkness of the darkest Past. Men and women whisper the sad chronicle of a bombing. Milanese civil society once again remembers the citizens who were slaughtered by extreme-right violence. In Piazza Fontana people loudly condemn fascism. The public speakers speak. The flags flap. Eyes fire up. Another December 12 adds new memories to the heart of the city.
By its own nature jazz music is traditional/ist but jazz also knows how to find new directions for the future. During Ben Williams & Sound Effect’s recent show at Jazz Cat Club Ascona, jazz music has brilliantly proved it is capable to possess a vision that goes beyond the teachings of the past. In Ascona, composer, singer and bass player Williams presented his own idea of jazz. He enchanted the audience with a sonic melting pot: neo-soul, sampling, but also Beatles, Radiohead and Bob Dylan covers turned on the show. At the end of the performance, an emotional “The Death of Emmet Till” rendition showed how much the past is necessary to move in the present and imagine a cultural and social future. (All frames taken with Olympus OM-D E-M5 + Zuiko 75mm f1.8)
A real village, built at the Châtelet, in the center of Paris.
It is a real village – I wouldn’t call it simply an encampment – fully equipped to facilitate the permanence of the Extinction Rebellion people.
There are tents, small yurtas, improvised but well-tended gardens, spaces dedicated to debates; toilets, meeting points, a medical center and even a cellar; and a gratuiterie where warm clothes are available in case of a cold night.
The slogans are as varied and colorful as the new residents of Châtelet. Some “hardcore” mottoes; and more reasoned ones. The main goal is printed on the banner that crosses the rue de Rivoli at the corner of Boulevard Sébastopol where the crowd is. “CHANGE OF PRIORITY.” Accordingly, the symbol of the movement is a stylized hourglass.
The prefecture has banned the rally scheduled for the morning. It doesn’t matter. The rebels soon reorganize, call a meeting right under the banner.
There is no shadow of the gilet jaunes here: just some hasty tags on a bus shelter. Gilets orange are what the people of the order service are wearing, and peaceful protesters are on stage.
After adjusting the amplification system, a skinny and whiskered blond young man takes the microphone and starts a rap with ecological rhymes for the crowd that is beginning to gather.
His militant lyrics reach beyond the Fontaine du Châtelet to the Pont au Change, which is blocked at the end of the Quai de l’Horloge by the offshoots of the Extinction Rebellion village.
While two young men are intent on cleaning the stone parapet of the old bridge, smudged by tags, a gilet orange shows an alternative way to the Île de la Cité to an Asian tourist in fluent English. Two dogs play nearby following in the footsteps of passers-by while their masters kneel on the pavement creating new tatzebaos.
Persons who are just curious mingle with activists. Someone asks questions. Someone else takes pictures. Here and there you can see the discreet presence of reporters ready to collect impressions and news on the events of the day.
In rue de Rivoli a lady in a raincoat is bent over the asphalt intent on leaving a mark of her militant participation: “REBEL FOR LIFE.” On a window “ANIMAL REBELLION – INSURRECTION – STOP FARMING/LIVESTOCK AND FISHING.” To partially shade an igloo tent decorated with a red and black ladybug-style motif another banner announces: “HERE WE CULTIVATE.” Less than ten meters away, a field with timid plants sprouting out of the humid dark soil.
The attention returns to the rue de Rivoli where the young rapper calls another person to the center of the scene.
A girl announces the name of Carola Rackete.
The brave German captain of the rescue boat Sea Watch 3 timidly emerges from the crowd with her long dreads. She smiles as she advances with a firm step. The signs of the judicial events of the summer – linked to the rescue of migrants in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea – left memories on her young face. Her eyes reveal the ideals in which she believes and for which she fights.
She greets everybody and announces that she will make her speech in French, apologizing for her pronunciation, holding a smartphone with the text of her speech.
Carola speaks for about ten minutes: she tells about her commitment to the environmental cause – she spent time at the North Pole studying the effects of pollution on ice – and underlines how the phenomenon of migration has always been linked to environment and climate changes. Saving people at sea is simply the logical consequence of her environmental activism.
Someone is preparing a question.
I take some pictures.
I take one frame in particular.
At the back of my mind a painting preserved in the Louvre Museum, just a few hundred meters from where we stand.
A fraction of a second before the CLIC and everything is done!
Carola Rackete magically enters in a black-and-white version of Le Radeau de la Méduse (1818-19) by Théodore Géricault – the painting depicting a tragedy at sea which at the time had a great international impact.
Or maybe I just imagined seeing one of Lucas Cranach’s Madonnas…Painting and photography… Past and present.
Looking at the black writing on the side gate of the Théâtre de Ville, which is all wrapped up for restoration, it would seem that the future also looks back to the past: “1871 VIVA THE COMMUNE!”
Perfectly complementary to the “OUR DESIRES PROVIDE DISORDER” graffiti which I had come across a few hours earlier near the Pompidou Center.
What happens when Buddy Guy meets the Grateful Dead? The question may need to be corrected. Need to ask when does Buddy Guy’s blues meet the Grateful Dead’s psychedelic jam? The magic happened in Milan during the North Mississippi Allstars concert at Spazio Teatro 89. The band led by the Dickinson brothers – in the power trio version – performed a 2 hours and 15 minutes live show rejecting any “music label.” North Mississippi Allstars’ philosophy? Jamming, jamming and jamming. Following the mood of the evening, I started a photographic session interrupting myself often, to try to get even more in tune with the band’s vibes. Shot by shot I explored with my FujiFilm X30 the visual nuances of blues and rock. There is nothing better than frames supported by music, you know! Jamming, jamming and (photo) jamming!
Storage could kill a frame. The mind of a photographer is always focused on shots to come. The shots then flee from memory until someone retrieves them. When Afterhours’ celebrative box set (book + 4 CDs) was released in 2017 I was deep in my photo projects so I hadn’t paid much attention to that record release dedicated to the band I had loved so much in the early 2000s. Two years later I bought the box set at a cheap price and I discovered that one of my shots had been included in the book.
The frame in question, taken in Milan, mid February 2003, portrayed the band in action at the Triennale Museum in Milan: it was a special live performance (2 sets) in the middle of an art installation inspired by Italian writer Italo Calvino’s book Città Invisibili. During the photo session (with a Pentax Espio) I took care to portray the scene comprehensively, showing the band really immersed in the art installation and in touch with the audience. Manuel Agnelli, the Afterhours frontman, appreciated my point of view and asked for prints for his personal archive. At the time I had some meetings and lunches with him because I was in contact with the indie label Afterhours signed with. That shot of the Afterhours’ Triennale performance is a lucky frame: it risked ending up lost in my photo archives but it was saved by a publishing project.
Below more pics from the Afterhours’ Triennale shows.