THE MORANDI BRIDGE, GENOA

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Genoa, December 20, 2018: a whole day dedicated to a photo project. Subject: the collapsed Morandi Bridge. I was in town with a friend, creative designer Federico Ramponi. Guiding us via WhatsApp, the Genoese La7 journalist Paolo Colombo, who suggested most of the places we shot from.

With these 29 b&w shots, I want to play the sense of movement of pain and loss against the granitic immobility that dominates the ghost neighborhood’s streets and buildings under the bridge.

I tried to narrate the neighborhood with its bridge from different angles. The hills around the Polcevera stream have proved excellent observation points and allowed me to have a wider and more complete view of the disaster.

Once at home I realized that my shots possessed a sort of camouflage ability: while I was shooting, I continued unconsciously to see the bridge still intact in front of my camera. The horizon, the electric cables, the houses and the neighborhood with its silent architectural geometries have become substitutes for the missing section of the Morandi Bridge.

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EAST END: FROM JACK LONDON’S EXPERIENCE TO BANKSY’S DISCIPLES

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The original idea for this photo project was to go looking for Jack London’s traces/footprints in the East End area – London visited the East End ‘hoods in the early twentieth century (see The People of the Abyss, 1903). Topography excepted, nothing remains of that early XXth century London.

Starting from the area of the docks and the London Docklands Museum (immortalized in the first two shots) I pursued my research in Spitalfields, Brick Lane and Whitechapel; very soon an initial disappointment was superseded by the curiosity for the “punk” scenarios/scenes that opened up in front of the lens (I shot with FujiFilm X30 and Fuji X100).

Maintaining a historic storytelling, I physically abandoned the first decade of the Twentieth Century and pushed myself closer, towards the present days. So, I discovered the disciples of Banksy (they could be disciples or… might very well be Mr. Banksy himself operating under new pseudonyms), along with melting pot scenes and punk/street attitude.

No Jack London traces were found, but I consider the famous American writer guided me in a subliminal way during a three-days photo walk. Without sinking into the abyss as he did – at the time, Jack London lived eighty days in the slums with the poorest people in London – I pushed myself beyond “the easy job” and I started to collect photos that interacted with each other (in pairs), turning the visual sketches into a document. Each couple of frames is a single voice in a wider story where social and architectural geometries blend or merge into each other.

London, late January 2019

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COSE PASSATE SOTTO GLI ARCHI

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Cose passate sotto gli archi, Milano, early November 2018 [Olympus OM-D E-M5]

BARRIO’S

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Barrio’s, Milano, late October 2018 [Fuji X100]

HEAVEN

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Heaven, Hangar Bicocca, Milano, late September 2018 [Fuji X100]

REINVENTING THE “RESISTENZA” – THE PRESENT LOOKS AT THE PAST

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– FRIDAY, September 21, 2018
VIDEO PRESENTATION
University of Milano-Bicocca, Rectorate – Rodolfi Room, Building U6, IV Floor,
Piazza dell’Ateneo Nuovo 1, Milano –  9AM 

– SATURDAY, September 22, 2018 
WALKING SEMINAR
University of Milano-Bicocca, Piazza dell’Ateneo Nuovo 1, Milano – 10AM

 

Today, intolerance and ignorance seem to be common moods in reading the Italian Resistance, La Resistenza, and in general the national history.

A lot of people prefer to forget what the past can teach: that’s a conscious and opportunistic approach that becomes an everyday philosophy for those politicians who look for short-term consensus.

Ignorance, you know, is a powerful weapon in the hands of those people who have spent their lives climbing to get the power. There is no necessary link between leadership and the oblivion of the history: real leaders know very well the lessons of history and the social-economic context where they operate.

In the social media era the legacy of history is all too often considered optional and basically useless: tweet by tweet, the present in progress deletes any genuine knowledge of the past. Gentrification and urban changes/transformation help this corrosive action destroying and deconstructing personal and collective memories. Their landscape, their framework vanishes.

When professors Tatjana Sekulić and Roberto Moscati offered me the opportunity to develop a photographic project on La Resistenza in the Greco-Pirelli/Bicocca area all these considerations became part of and inspired my artistic quête. There were two obstacles that I had to face: first, the almost total lack of signs of those times in the neighborhood (the remaining elements are an old factory chimney and a commemorative plaque dedicated to the partisans killed by the fascists, but today closed inside the Pirelli’s headquarters); the second obstacle was that my background and my imagery are far from the facts I was asked to evoke, for a double generational reason, not only because of my age, which does not include me in any direct collective memory, but also because I am by choice aesthetically and intellectually closer to the Sixties and Seventies’ counterculture.

All this made the task difficult but not impossible.

The impossible access to the relics of the Resistenza era pushed me to look for a way to provoke the revival of the past in the people who would look at my shots. So I decided to approach the issue with my everyday street photography mood, to recreate a credible iconographic-historical scenario.

Straight on the target without compromises: high contrast black and white in camera – don’t forget, the few memories of La Resistenza in Milan are in black and white; well focused clicks; few post-production. In short words, straight photography as I usually do it: no will to tamper with the representation of reality, even if I know a representation is not a mirror reflection.

In my approach to photography I considered I could add a touch of theatrical performance (in the recent past I had a theatrical experience as writer/author): in some frames – recorded with the self-timer technique – I become part of the scene dressed in a total black suit as the ghost of an unknown partisan – in the Resistenza there were no heroes, simply men and women. The Bicocca university buildings, the Pirelli factory, the work sites and the streets were my stages; an abandoned bottle became an improvised weapon, a molotov cocktail.

At the exact moment of every single shot I had in mind keywords/guide words that I wanted to propose again during the video presentation of the project. They were just suggestions, personal mind sketches, I hope they can help the discussion and the debate.

As in other projects, I’ve embraced the photographic lesson of PROVOKE, a Japanese collective active in the late Sixties: “words have lost the material force that once held the reality” and the photographers “capture with their eyes the remaining vestiges of reality that words no longer reach.”

You too will agree that the power of an image is stronger than any word. So my keywords remain only shy “whisperers” to your eyes.

The video presentation of my work will be a preview of the walking seminar scheduled for the final day of the summer school. Seven of the pictures will be printed in large format and will accompany us on a short tour in the Greco-Pirelli/Bicocca neighborhood – the locations I chased in the mid of August for the shots. Professors and students will be invited to give their contributions to the revival of the Resistenza adding to the seven photos writings, thoughts, tags and drawings, etc.

My hope, before leaving you to the vision of the images, is that once you get home you’ll make this experiment yours and improve it.

There are no better eyes than those of others to take pictures, that’s an important lesson; there exists a multitude of eyes to see the world in different ways. That could be the first step to break the walls around the world.

 

2018 BICOCCA INTERNATIONAL SUMMER SCHOOL

DOWNLOAD THE FULL PROJECT: Reinventing the Resistenza

MILANO-BICOCCA: A SUNNY MORNING

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A series of architectural shots taken with my “old” FUJI X100 during a sunny August morning at Università Milano-Bicocca.

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