WHEN ART COMES FROM THE STREETS

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Since the first large graffiti appeared on the walls of Philadelphia in the mid-Sixties as territorial warnings by the local gangs – see Jack Stewart’s Graffiti Kings. New York City Mass Transit Art of the 1970s (NY: Abrams, 2009) – street art has had a double “social” meaning: the first is the author’s; the second is the meaning that passers-by give to what they see.

As with a song – in particular topical/protest songs – the skill of passers-by in appropriating street works becomes the core of the street’s independent art system: the feeling that the artwork arouses stays on the wall in a lasting way and can also condition the author and influence works to come.

The dual nature of the street work – whether a painting, a graffiti, a stencil, etc. – places the photographer/observer in a condition of knowing both sides of the coin.

Observing a street artwork in a neighborhood instead of another makes a huge difference. Knowing a street artist and seeing him at work in the street helps even more to understand how in the last three decades an independent/underground art became the center of attention for collectors and art galleries all around the world.

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The series of black and white frames (taken with mirrorless cameras Fuji X100 and FujiFilm X30 and without the use of additional lights) were recorded in two moments: during the night, while artist Osmo Kalev created his work; and the day after when the work, whose title is RIOT, was already being lived by passers-by and curious people in the neighborhood – stickers and tags add new perspective to the work.

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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two shots) I pursued my research in Spitalfields, Brick Lane and Whitechapel; very soon an initial disappointment was superseded by the curiosity for the “punk” scenarios/scenes that opened up in front of the lens (I shot with FujiFilm X30 and Fuji X100).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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THE STREET TALKS VS. THE BUSINESS OF ART

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The street talks vs. the business of art. Italy criminalizes street art BUT supports the unofficial exhibition of an artist who belongs to the streets. [Shot taken with FujiFilm X30] #tvboy #banksy #streetart #nocompromise

BARRIO’S

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

TEACHING BY PICTURES

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A photographer is a witness. If he arrives in the right place at the right moment he can become a storyteller. Frames are almost always ready, around us. Little details can make powerful the story the photographer is about to tell. “THE CONTINENTS MIGRATE TOO” say the rough graffiti on the wall. Two groups of young ladies – second generation Italian girls or tourists/travellers – sitting in front of the graffiti amplify the message and make it stronger: melting pot elements magnify and make unstoppable the migration that leaves the wall and becomes real. Racists have to bend in front of this truth: humankind has grown thanks to the curiosity that has led people to migrate since the dawn of time. #fuckracism

GATE

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Gate, Milano, April 12, 2018 [FujiFilm X-E1]

VIA TIBALDI AREA

A sunny winter day in via Tibaldi area, South of Milan [Olympus E-P2 + Zuiko 17mm f2.8]