Photography is simultaneously very mundane and complex. It has an inevitable relationship with the past, and one with the present. It is a fluid medium, constantly evolving along with technology, art and communication. It is a medium always and naturally at odds with its content: it reproduces reality so faithfully, while also distorting and transforming it. Its ambiguity even leads to questioning the very description of photography as a mere tool, or as a language, or as a creative and artistic expression. There are enough arguments in the field of photography to confirm and deny any position or description. Photography is therefore a sum of contrasts and contradictions, so much so that Mishka Henner’s book Photography is is a collection of three thousand definitions of photography.
All this has always attracted my attention, from a theoretical, aesthetic and artistic point of view. Nowadays, photography is experiencing such a fragmentation that the word itself might have lost its meaning, except from a purely technical point of view. Perhaps we should exclusively speak of “images”, seeing as defining them as “photographs” hardly makes sense anymore. And defining this meaning – or lack thereof – is precisely one of the themes of my work. In the 1960s, the Linguistic Turn was identified by Rorty, while in the 1990s Mitchell and Boehm coined the Pictorial Turn. Another thirty years have just passed, and perhaps the time has come for another “turn”.
References (art, literature, music, other)
Depending on the point of view, photography as a language can be compared to writing or poetry (for the possibility to narrate or build a discourse), to music (for its being a universal language), and, of course, to visual and performative art (from cinema to painting). In all of these fields, there are obviously many references coming from all the arts; it would therefore be impossible to circumscribe anything specific.
However, there are some important passages that I have always found enlightening: for instance, when it comes to writing, Eugenio Montale’s poetry and his experiment on translation in Poesia travestita. As Heidegger said, “every translation is a betrayal”, and this is deeply related to photography. From a linguistic point of view, Raymond Queneau’s work Exercises in style has also been fundamental in my education.
Moving on to music, Jazz and the poetics of improvisation have always played a crucial role in my understanding how to rework, by translating into photography, the material and visual imagery that we build, each time in a different and original way.
Regarding photography, leaving aside the great classics starting with Robert Adams to Jeff Wall, I’ve always been attracted to two types of artists and works: one deeply linked to the material, the printing techniques, the alternative processes and the images chemistry. In this area, I have always followed those artists who work closely with the aesthetics of photographic processes and experimentation. On the other hand, perhaps in more recent years, I have started following artists, not exclusively photographers, who question the role, the aesthetics and the purpose of the photographic image and the visual experience in general. I am referring to artists such as Trevor Paglen, Philippe Parreno, Oscar Munoz, Broomerg and Chanarin, Erik Kessel, etc.
In my research, a project always follows two parallel routes that are bound to meet at some point: one path follows the technical medium, the form and materiality. Each work must build a strong relationship with the tool used to create it, be it a printing technique, a type of ink or a mode of presentation, analogue or digital. In this field, I always try to conduct a little bit of research in order to go beyond and dismantle the traditional means of presentation, or at least attempt to do so. The other path, infinite and undefined, follows the conceptual material and the subject at the centre of the work, the topic to explore and the theme to conduct research on. At one point, the two paths must meet, and a relationship of necessity and essentiality must be established. Afterwards, there is a kind of mandatory passage where I try to completely overturn the point of view I followed in my work, seeking aspects that I might have overlooked and shedding light on them. In this phase, the help of colleagues, assistants, friends and strangers is essential.
Artistic crossovers and contaminations
I believe that nowadays, the work on images and photography cannot exclude the confrontation with science, videogames, new technologies and everything that contributes to building our daily visual life. My work is therefore based precisely on contaminations, from the most mundane to the most unexpected.