MATTEO CESCHI & JIM MARSHALL’S “RISE AND FALL” IN SARAJEVO

Rise and Fall 2019

Matteo Ceschi and Jim Marshall‘s Rise and Fall multimedia art exhibition (with high-patronage of the Italian Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina) at Historical Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Zmaja od Bosne 5, Sarajevo)

 

OPENING EVENT: TUESDAY 17 SEPTEMBER 2019, 7PM

 

Walls are absolutely central to the history, experience, interaction, culture and condition of humans. From ancient paintings on the walls of caves, to the Great Wall of China, to the Walls of Jericho, the Wailing Wall, and the Walls of Babylon, to the modern perspectives of the Berlin Wall, right-wing dreams of border walls, and contemporary graffiti, not least in the context of the internationally recognised works of Banksy and Blu, et al.

While walls can divide and exclude, they can also function as shared, inclusive, even sacred spaces. They can communicate cultural, historical and political events and experiences through fading signs, plaques, shrapnel marks, other more subtle features, and of course street art.

Urban environments, such as Milan and Sarajevo, speak through their walls, telling stories of often tumultuous change.

Jim Marshall and Matteo Ceschi’s photo project presents a dialogue between two different contexts and artists, reflecting the humour, the horror, the light and the darkness of the stories told by the walls of our cities. Stories of events and of empires, and indeed of walls as they rise and fall.

 

SEE: https://www.unimib.it/unimib-international/winter-and-summer-schools/summer-schools-2019

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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

HOW I BECAME A PHOTOGRAPHER

01_Zeiss Ikon Symbolica, Milano, late Janaury 2016

I began to see photography in a professional perspective in 2006.
Before, I had used an analog camera when traveling and as a university student in Milan, at parties, to document fragments of time in a wild and disorderly way that is still appreciated, however, by those friends who had never thought to immortalize such moments.
In March 2006, in Paris, I could match in a single experience my professional interest in history and my passion for photography, which in fact I discovered around the age of eight with an old Zeiss Ikon AG Symbolica. I followed for several days the students’ protests against the bill on employment known as CPE, because I felt the need to document history as it was happening. I did not consider the technical satisfactoriness of my gear a problem, and I have not changed my mind about this. I used a cheap Kodak Easyshare C300. All in all, mistakes would not cost much with a digital.
On March 10th, when the student occupation of the Sorbonne started, I shot a picture of a girl who looked strangely familiar even though I was certain I had never met her. I did not stop thinking and went on shooting to document the various political demonstrations that seemed at the time the beginning of a new 1968. Later, going back home in the Marais, I discovered that the same girl I had run into with the tiny lens of my Kodak had been selected for the pages of the daily Le Monde three days before. This was a pleasant surprise, a single morsel that nourished both my pride as a historian of counter-cultural movements and my photoreporting artistic fancies.

02_STOP CPE, Sorbonne, Paris, March 10, 2006

If I were to choose a snapshot marking my passage from hobby to profession, I’d say it is that b&w photo. From that day, I went hunting in the city – in cities – not just for historical documentation, but for a framing so effective that it would speak by itself and tell the story I had experienced without necessarily needing the help of words.
B&W had been an unconscious choice, partly due to all the time I had spent looking at family photo albums and my father’s old geography books, with Ansel Adams images. The main factor, though, was my passion for graphic novel art, Hugo Pratt’s Corto Maltese and Frank Miller’s Sin City in particular. My pursuit of professional framing was necessarily influenced by years of drawing China ink plates for comics when I was a college student. The ambition to obtain extreme – or hard boiled, if you like – b&ws passed through the distorting lens of comics, which allowed me in time – so they tell me – to develop a taste for paradox and surreal situations…and for challenging the rules of “good photography”, as I stick to low ISO even in precarious lighting conditions.

04_Pratt, Miller & Me, Milano, late Janaury 2016

Entering “professional” photography only gradually – I think it’s best to keep a taste for play – I familiarized with the medium, preserving a curiosity to experiment with any sort of camera – new and old, second-hand or loaned. My idea is that the most important medium was given to me by mother nature, and it’s my eye.
I am a lover of street photography, though I prefer to call it straight photography. In fact, though, the first pictures I sold were rock concert photos, accompanying my articles for various music magazines. I still do that, but at a certain point it felt natural to move from the big stages to the streets, taking shots of buskers. Then my vision broadened, embracing the whole teeming life of Italian, European and North-American cities, without gender or ethnic distinction.
The rise of digital cameras and devices has obviously brought advantages – easier filing and indexing of materials, for example – and I have certainly never been inclined to entrench myself in the analog fortress. New camera technology has spurred some people to experiment to extremes; others have just tuned in to the new millennium, welcoming technological improvements and more and more portable cameras, this second aspect being the most important to me when I make my choices. I am adamant on one thing: print. I have always put my trust in professionals, in fine art printers like my friend Gian Paolo Daldello, to turn my visions into physical, tangible objects. Printing is definitely not one of my skills!

MITI PRIGIONIERI DEL QUOTIDIANO

178 Miti prigionieri del quotidiano, Milano, late September 2015

Miti prigionieri del quotidiano, Milano, late September 2015 [FujiFilm X30]