Desayuno de media mañana…, PONKJ, Milano, October 2018 [FujiFilm X30]
How did you go from photography to film directing? The question needs to be asked now that you’ve won the Silver Dolphin prize at the 2018 Cannes Corporate Media & TV Awards.
I don’t know when I started photography, to begin with. I know even less when I started to film. I have a clear memory of myself looking at my grandpa, a cool – old photographer son of two wars, developing film or cutting and fixing the final version of a precious movie, the one we took together every Sunday, during the family field trip to the lake. I was five at the time, and I started to think that what matters is to mix. My mind started to give a meaning to the images, freezing single moments out of a movie, or imagining situations about a single pic.
I think I can tell you I never moved from one to the other. Only, my life gifted me with the chance to become a professional photographer, and I developed a personal technique to fulfill my goal: storytelling. Since then and there, the direction was very clear, and the jump was short enough to take.
As director you continue to use your FujiFilm GFX 50. How do you combine the use of video and still frames (of course you’re famous for multiple-exposures shots)?
I feel I’ve already answered part of your question. Referring to multiple exposures I’ll keep investigating the same area of interest. What usually remains, after a trip or after a job has been accomplished, is a complex true to life feeling, something in between a state of mind and a state of the heart. I don’t generally freeze single images, I rather like to freeze feelings, and try to reproduce them. Feelings usually mix themselves inside other feelings, that’s what happens in my stories. You also asked me about the camera I use. Though, obviously, when I direct a movie I’m not alone on the set, the choice of FUJI GFX 50 was driven by the consideration that that’s the only digital medium format to shoot double exposure, as I don’t like to over-manipulate my pics on the computer. The camera is fast, the task is easy. It does shoot a good video resolution, as well. So far it’s more than enough for what I`m working about.
Watching Reggiani a Thread Linking Water, Earth and Sky, one can appreciate a delicate fluidity in the visual storytelling. What was the idea that inspired this work and how did you attain your artistic goal?
The whole project investigates environmental sustainability. It’s of course a key moment in the life of the Company, and during my first conversation w/ Mr. Giovanni Reggiani I could clearly feel the enormous respect that he has for a valley where he’s spent almost all his life, and which represents his personal story and his family’s. The river is the center of all this, the great father of the valley, and the precious son of the mountain. Interpretation and description in this condition were going to be almost the same thing. The work was really very easy.
Was the short film you made for the famous Italian brand Reggiani S.p.A. your first experience as a director or had you already experimented with videos?
That was my first experience w/ an institutional video, with clear marketing and Adv purposes. Which suggests to me the opportunity to thank – very much – Mr. Giovanni Reggiani for the trust he has placed in me, and in the project. Before that, I realized some art projects, linked to different personal exhibitions, but that was more related to my artistic career. I also realized a small number of editorial video projects. Those experiences were truly fun.
For Reggiani a Thread Linking Water, Earth and Sky you collaborated with art director Roberto Pelizzoni. How was this join venture born?
Roberto is an old and really great friend ( and when I say old I mean young… ). To work w/ him is truly easy, indeed. He’s very demanding, at the same time he knows his way through. Roberto has a great knowledge of the ADV system. And he’s known my technique and my way of conceiving work for ages. We don’t need to talk a lot on the set. We talk a lot before. And after.
During the private preview presentation of the short film at Reggiani S.p.A.’s headquarters, in Varallo Sesia, you also chose to show the backstage shooting that documented your work. What did you ask for to the backstage set photographer when recording the “making of” the film?
That’s you! I feel it’s truly charming when people have the chance to see in-between all the moments of a job. It’s like a double exposure on life. Problem and solution, fighting and laughing, working and resting all become parts of one story. At the end of the day different feelings remain. And a cool story to remember.
Some backstage shots from friend director/actor/rapper Taiyo HYST Yamanouchi’s new videoclip, Kamikaze Pt. II, recording sessions. Home video meets backstage set photography! ENJOY!
Et voilà, f/50 The International Photography Collective ‘s new project realized with my fellow Keith Goldstein. ENJOY!
– FRIDAY, September 21, 2018
University of Milano-Bicocca, Rectorate – Rodolfi Room, Building U6, IV Floor,
Piazza dell’Ateneo Nuovo 1, Milano – 9AM
– SATURDAY, September 22, 2018
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.
DOWNLOAD THE FULL PROJECT: Reinventing the Resistenza