Interview Rachele Maistrello


The kind of photography that appeals is one which seeks complex apparatuses in which to exist. For example, in the project Stella Maris, photographic images go hand in hand with drawings and sculptures. However, in the project Green Diamond, they merge to form a photographic-documentary installation, a website that becomes a kind of film-archive to navigate. I always try to force the photographic limit towards new worlds or linguistic twists that can challenge it. Lately, I have also been interested in the book form, which I am trying to study more thoroughly. I believe that photography is a way to investigate new possibilities within reality, without ever betraying it: to show new prospects, potential deviations of what stands before me, mental images of subjects I encounter. I am interested in photography as a tool for documentation – not only of what exists but also of what could possibly be. A documentation of the possible, the oneiric, not always bound to a precise time and space, but to potential times, mental spaces that could have been or could be in the future.


References (art, literature, music, other)

My references often change. While reading old interviews, I realise that preferences fluctuate but certainly over time the link with Guido Guidi, with a certain approach to analogue and Italian images, returns assertively, as if it were a root of my path. Literature is fundamental to me: I read a lot, most especially narrative literature. Lately, one of my favourite authors has been Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who has just published the wonderful Notes on Grief, and then Annie Ernaux and many others. Cinema is also important, and Alice Rohrwacher is a certain point of reference among the Italian directors of my generation, especially for her ability to blend fantastic imagery with a true Italian landscape. A landscape linked to the peasant culture, to the countryside, a culture similar to the one I find in Pennabilli, where I live and very probably intend to open a house for artists. Pennabilli is also important for the legacy of Tonino Guerra, screenwriter and author who has worked with Fellini, Tarkovsky and many other directors who in turn frequented the town, leaving a strong mark on the place’s culture and the lives of its inhabitants. Another point of reference is the website Costruttori di Babele (Builders of Babel), a platform that collects every naïve or spontaneous art construction in Italy. In fact, I am also fascinated by popular art, or at least non-institutional. In this regard, Il Palazzo Enciclopedico (The Encyclopedic Palace, the 55th Venice Biennale), curated by Massimiliano Gioni, has been an important step, an investigation on how to narrate an art which escapes more institutional research and critical paradigms. I am also influenced by and interested in scientific research, for example the studies of the botanist Stefano Mancuso on the intelligence of the plant world, or Mayol’s research on deep apnoea, and other marine biology studies in general. Speaking of which, I am currently working on the link between sound and image, on how sound vibrations propagate through materials such as water or sand, and on Chladni figures, which originated from the first forms of kinetic research.


Research methodology


My research always stems from an encounter with people, with a place, with an atmosphere; for example, with a nursing home in the project Stella Maris, but it can be much more, even a person met by chance on a bus. Then follows a phase of approach that is comparable to a data collection, a very personal immersion in the place – which took place in a nuclear components factory for the project Green Diamond, for example. Then comes the need to collaborate with the people I meet and to create an apparatus that can translate the encounter itself, avoiding the form of reportage and turning to different ones, such as artistic installations. For example, in Stella Maris, I was not interested in showing the faces of the people I met in the care home, but rather in making them talk through their drawings or the landscape surrounding them. In this case, the result consisted of abstract images that convey a very intimate, everyday atmosphere of people going through a complex experience that was difficult for me to understand. As I pointed out earlier, scientific research is also a decisive methodological approach for my work. For example, in my latest project Blu Diamond, which has involved almost two years of research, I rely on studies conducted by marine biologists to investigate how the sea, the ocean and the abyss can narrate the relationship between the man and the difficulty of completely grasping a sort of harmony, a sort of structure in the world around him.