Interview with Alessandro Calabrese

Photography

My photographic research has its roots in the study of architecture and in the history of landscape photography. From an exclusively analog use of the camera, with a slow and meditative pace, to tell the details of the city in line with the masters who trained me, my interest has been directed towards the archive and vernacular photography. Gradually in my projects a reflection that had photography itself as its subject, devoid of any narrative and figurative intention, became more and more evident. So I expanded and further differentiated the use of the medium by including in the production process the use of the internet through, for example, the use of algorithms that operate the web search engines, or the experimentation of off-camera photography thanks to the use of finally, more recently, attempts to print images on the “wrong” sides of photographic papers.

References (art, literature, music, other)

As mentioned, the first influences come from architecture, above all from a procedural, methodological and layering point of view of the project, especially in the figures of teachers that I was able to attend such as Renato Rizzi and Paolo Ceccon. Subsequently, the first photographic personality that influenced me was that of Guido Guidi, a reference to which to aim first and from which to distance myself as much as possible later. Other significant figures were, in Italy, Francesco Jodice and, abroad, Wolfgang Tillmans and Thomas Ruff. The visual reflection on the relationship between figurative and abstract, on the other hand, is due to the pictorial work of Francis Bacon and to the multidisciplinary work of Carmelo Bene, mediated, in both cases, by the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze. Finally, from a point of view of content, and in part also of language, I owe a lot to David Foster Wallace and to all the postmodern current, both philosophical and literary.

Research methodology

Here I have to split my research into two phases.

The first was characterized by an analysis, as mentioned above, on the photographic language, I paid a lot of attention to its history and its contemporary development. I was looking for references to trigger a new discourse, to add a possibly innovative piece to the great photographic mosaic. To this iconographic universe I have always tried to combine theoretical and non-fictional insights that acted as a supporting conceptual structure. In retrospect I can say that the latter have always worked in a lateral, almost unconscious way, helping me to give birth to sudden ideas that can be quickly realized, which is very suitable for my practical laziness.

The second phase, the one in which I am now, has become independent from the research on language (even if the project I present here still thinks about the metaphotographic), I am no longer interested in investigating the medium but using it and contaminating it with others and addressing issues that those of visual language are ignored.

Contaminations

In recent years I have been including in my projects both the use of speech and video, but I am also slowly approaching sculpture. This involves new references, new insights, especially related to the practice of contemporary art in general, which I had always bypassed before in favor of theoretical studies to be declined in photographic terms. However, every contamination that I am experiencing seems to have as its origin and end a reflection, once again, on the visual to act as the central cornerstone of each project, regardless of the theme I am addressing. In short, I am surrendering to the idea that photography, even if in the broadest possible sense, is something from which I will never be able to escape and it is perhaps appropriate to begin to accept it, serenely.

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