P.S. for the translation Google Translate (Bosnian-English) is adequate.
– 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
A series of architectural shots taken with my “old” FUJI X100 during a sunny August morning at Università Milano-Bicocca.
I left for Sarajevo with the reports of a couple of friends and Giovanna Volpi’s essay Sarajevo Maybe, 1994 in my pocket. In the bag, I also had a couple of cameras: a FujiFilm X30 and a small Ricoh GX100. The program included a photo exhibition entitled ko.existence. *
Those few notions I lost once in town. There, other friends – professor Tatjana Sekulić and photographer Jim Marshall, my partner in the ko.existence exhibition organized by the Universities of Milan Bicocca, Sarajevo and East Sarajevo with the patronage of the Italian Embassy in Sarajevo – pinned on my notebook some names of places and sketches from the past.
But I was living the present.
And this Present was full of new inputs: it was almost unable to contain its stories. The Baščaršija, the Ottoman market district; the Faculty of Political Science; a Sunday marathon; the alleys, a covered shelter during the long siege (1992-1995) away from the shots of the snipers; the numerous and silent cemeteries that embrace the city from the hills. Every aspect of Sarajevo told me stories of a present in progress. Everyday life survived the war and committed to stopping the resurgence of nationalisms and waves of fundamentalisms.
In this present in progress citizens of Sarajevo do not seem tired to defend the urgent sense of coexistence.
My task, as a street photographer, was to record all these inputs and send them to you as series of postcards.
FREE DOWNLOAD SJJ 016 Postcards from a Present in Progress
* The title of the exhibition came from a suggestion of one of the directors of the Summer School: the original co.existence became ko.existence better tailored to the life of Western and Eastern metropolises. “Ko”, in the Bosnian language means “who?”, so the title is a pun implying a challenge to the viewers to rethink their notion of coexistence and avoid the danger of a social knock out.
Sarajevo, September 19-24
MATTEO CESCHI and JIM MARSHALL
Opening, 7 PM
Avdage Šahinagića 6, Sarajevo 71000, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Tuesday-Saturday (4-9 PM)
INFO: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
KO.existence is a b&w photo reportage by Italian photographer Matteo Ceschi and British based in Sarajevo photographer Jim Marshall inspired by the theme of the 2016 International Summer School “Rethinking the Culture of Tolerance” (organized by University Milan-Bicocca, University of East Sarajevo and University of Sarajevo with the patronage of the Italian Embassy in Sarajevo). Two photographers, without ever meeting in person, took pictures in their cities, Milan and Sarajevo, with a street photography approach. The title of the series (50 shots) came from a suggestion of one of the directors of the Summer School: the original “Co.existence” became “KO.existence” better tailored to the life of Western and Eastern metropolises. “Ko”, in the Bosnian language means “who?”, so the title is a pun implying a challenge to the viewers to rethink their notion of “coexistence” and avoid the danger of a social “knock out”. People sharing spaces and places every day, in fact “coexist”, in a neutral situation that has not yet developed into good or bad relationships. Starting from this initial position, each photographer has developed in his own style the different issues of contemporary co-existence trying to give substance to the suffix word “KO”.
“I started to shoot in a restricted central area of Milan with different cameras and different lights. I was looking for this kind of neutral situation, neither good nor bad. Each of my 25 frames – I collected 40-45 shots for this project – represents a possible first step for neighborly co-existence. Asian and African women at the open air market, a group of smiling Asian men as background to a businessman on the phone, a thoughtful tall man sitting in the local café – in my viewfinder all these subjects become the crossroads of co-existence. No judgment or opinion from me, just a well-trained passion for recording the world around me. Quoting the last Michael Jackson, This Is It!”