Photography Exhibition in ROME and SCANNO
ROME 16th JANUARY-20th MARCH 2016
SCANNO 23rd APRIL-1st MAY 2016
4 originals by Mario Giacomelli
16 black and white and colour photographs by
Alessandro ADINOLFI, Gianluca ANTONELLI,
Annalisa CAMPO, Fabio CARLINI,
Francesca CASTELLI, Serenella DEL RIO,
Lorenzo DINA, Emanuela FAITELLI, Marco MATTEI,
Laura MERCURI, Giuliano MICILLO,
Nicoletta MINIERO, Livia PASQUALINI, Giulio SALVIONI,
Eleonora SETTE, Alexandre VANHOORDE
It was in the spring of 1957 that Mario Giacomelli went to Scanno, a small village nestled in the Sagittario Valley, whose charm had previously attracted Henri Cartier-Bresson. In the 1970s John Szarbowski, head of photography department at the MOMA in New York, purchased a number of images from his series entitled ‘Scanno’ and published them in the volume "Looking at Photographs: 100 Pictures from the collection of the Museum of Modern Art".
“I went back to Scanno, but the second time it was snowing so I headed back.
I only worked properly the first time: the second time I didn’t even get to rest on the village walls (…), not even for a moment.
The first time I visited it was a Saturday and a Sunday. Wherever I went, it was always the same (…): all the work I did, I did it in two days;
Henri Cartier-Bresson on the other hand was there for a month!”
I went to Scanno (…) with my friend Renzo Tortelli. We took our Fiat 500 and drove through the night. On Saturday morning, when the people of Scanno returned to their village with bundles of wood balancing on their heads, I was there, ready and waiting, to take photographs.
I was there on a Saturday, a working day, and the day of rest.
I love remembering how I first arrived at Scanno: while my friend was driving the 500, one of the little old-fashioned ones, cows and women dressed in black started to appear.
When I saw the scene I opened the window and tac, started snapping!
But the car was still moving and I hurt my knee (…).
There is a photo (…) when Renzo was still parking, but I had already taken the shots, just imagine!
I was so swept away by the desire to capture the moment!
“Mario Giacomelli. La mia vita intera”, edited by Simona Guerra – Bruno Mondadori.
His picture story “Scanno”, published in the 1950s, brought him to the attention of critics and the cultured public alike.
The photographs show a trespassed village, taken apart and reconstructed by Giacomelli’s mechanical eye.
Talking about this experience, Giacomelli said: “(I went to Scanno) because I wanted to do something different and also because every photographer in the world has been to Scanno.
It was an amazing experience because it was in Scanno that I had the idea of using the burning technique, a process of which I am very proud.”
“I hate images that remain the way the camera see them.
Taking a subject and not making any modifications is a waste of time (…) for me, the joy of photography emerged when I was in Scanno.
The first time I was coming from Pescara. When I arrived I got out of the car in a rush and hurt myself, as I was so excited to see these figures dressed in black, black cows and hens strolling along the street for the first time.”
“I was taking photographs on a white street. The cows and hens were keeping me company. At a certain point I felt myself being pushed forward. I turned around, annoyed. It was a cow. Its nose had made my shoulders all wet.
Perhaps it was being friendly. For me it was truly beautiful seeing this “family” of men, women, cows and hens. The women sitting outside. The postman delivering letters along the street.
I don’t remember anything about what I did yesterday. But I remember everything about Scanno. My relationships with the people of Scanno were fleeting, but for me very long. I often spoke to the woman who prepared my meals. The true human relationship was not the temporal one, rather it was felt inside your pockets, like a friend.
Nobody greeted me in the street, but for me it was as if everybody was greeting me.
Perhaps some people did look at me with diffidence, but in the end they came up to me and said “Jamme ritrattame”, “go on, photograph me”.
Scanno. A village. A love story.
I went to Scanno at two different points in my life. As a musician and as a photographer. As a musician. In the late 1980s I was studying at the L'Aquila Conservatoire and I visited the village as part of a tour of Abruzzo with my first chamber group. Mozart, Beethoven, Respighi. Cold, snow. Sheet music and instruments in churches and auditoriums. After concert dinners and a long journey back to L'Aquila.
As a photographer. In the late 1990s I went back to Scanno after studying Cartier-Bresson’s photographs. Lucid, brilliant, effective and striking. But the real flash of inspiration, immediate yet acutely painful, came with Mario Giacomelli’s “anti-photographs”. “Anti-photographs” in that Giacomelli adopted an irrational and not very technical/technological approach to his camera and photography in general.
But you can’t ask a poet to explain what and how they write.
Giacomelli was one of the few poets in international photography.
A poet who, with his manual Kobell camera, one single lens and a flash, captured the essence of Abruzzo, its land, its people, in the way you capture the soul in an X-ray.
Unconsciously, unintentionally he wrote a photography manual explaining how with just two colours – black and white – brought to the extremes, you can tell the story of daily life in a walled village bound to the endless cycle of the seasons.
Among the faces and bodies of men buried under hats and cloaks, the faces and bodies of women dressed in their everyday clothes, the animals move freely around the narrow streets while the children dressed in short trousers play among their hooves.
The burnt light in the photographs makes the hard reality of life unreal and fantastic, a hard life filled with hours of backbreaking work in the fields and kitchens. Time entirely dictated by the rising and setting of the sun, the sun captured in the 6x8 negatives inside the Kobell, which Giacomelli then over/underexposed in the dark room to tell the paradoxical story of life.
Of the numerous photos taken during his first trip to Scanno in 1957, for this exhibition I selected four that focus on two significant anthropological matters: women’s clothing, photographed from the front and the back, with their black and white and grey linen brought to the extreme, the exasperation of daily femininity that never changes.
And the village seen from the front, nowadays known as the viewpoint of the photographers: roofs, walls, houses and narrow streets enveloped in a twilight, noisy grey, born perhaps from the mist mixed with the fire coming from the chimneys.
Framed by the surrounding woodland.
I have sought to talk about my emotions, in the hope that they are similar to Giacomelli’s, to my students on the advanced course, active protagonists of various photographic trips we’ve taken to Scanno over the past four years.
And the result of their photographic efforts stand before the eyes of everyone: essential, effective, concrete images that are a sincere and felt homage to the work of a great poet. Never forgotten. Never remembered enough.
With all my heart I would like to thank:
Simone Giacomelli, Mario’s son, for his father’s original photographs displayed at this exhibition.
Simona Guerra, photography critic and exhibition curator, author of the book “Mario Giacomelli. La mia vita intera”, published by Bruno Mondadori, who accepted the idea of dedicating a homage to her uncle, whose photography heritage she looks after.
Claudio d’Alessandro, his wife Maria and children Alessandro and Flavio, Matilde Landriscina. Without their friendship and concrete support, I would not have been able to organise this exhibition.
All the friends of the Scanno-based Cultural Association “Appuntamento con la Tradizione – Vivi il Costume”.
Livia Pasqualini for her patience and affection.
A VILLAGE. A LOVE STORY.
In homage to MARIO GIACOMELLI
Via Francesco Siacci, 2/c Rome
FROM THE 16TH JANUARY TO THE 20TH MARCH 2016
VARNISHING DAY 16TH JANUARY 7PM
OPENING TIMES 10AM-5.30PM / SAT AND SUN BY APPOINTMENT ONLY
AUDITORIUM GUIDO CALOGERO
FORMER CHIESA DELLE ANIME SANTE
FROM THE 23RD APRIL TO THE 1ST MAY 2016
VARNISHING DAY 23RD APRIL 7PM
VISITS BY APPOINTMENT ONLY
FOR MORE INFORMATION
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