On the same path, in opposite directions
The volume Presente Infinito provides a visual and textual testimony to a new and singular case in the Italian photographic culture. Having met photography and chosen it as their expressive form, these authors – through their study and work experiences in cities that are anthropologically and geographically distant from one another, such as Palermo, Milan, Naples, Cesena, as well as through the exposition to my academic lectures – came to realize that their perspectives, although irreducibly personal, were generated and made alive and authentic by the communal spirit of the Italian tradition. This is evident in the theory and practice of figural representation and divine mimesis, which from Dante continues uninterrupted until Pier Paolo Pasolini and the artists of the Trans-Avanguardia.
These authors, still young but already mature, recuperate and give new meaning to the presence and centrality of the human being in landscapes and urban scenes, something which characterizes and brings together different generations of modern Italian photography: the generation of Giuseppe Pagano and Alberto Lattuada; that of Paolo Monti and Pietro Donzelli; that of Mario Giacomelli and Mario Carrieri; that of Luigi Ghirri and some artists who exposed and published their works in Viaggio in Italia in 1984.
Marcello De Masi, Luigi Fiano, Lorenzo Martelli, Alvise Raimondi, Sebastiano Raimondo and Giovanni Scotti thus decided to start an intense collaboration and form an artistic group, sharing and critically comparing their knowledge and previous works. Together, they chose Naples as the first theme of their communal creative activity; they rented an old house to serve as a stable work and meeting place, where the old beds, closets, chairs, tables, paintings and small devotional altars welcome them, making them feel like living parts in the thread of their long history.
In the course of the realization of their shared project on Naples (which will take place by 2015), they had the opportunity to intensely discuss their work and decided to re-examine and exhibit together their previous works, still realized in complete autonomy.
Thanks to the generosity of Sandro Scalia, professor at the Accademia di Belle Arti, and the support of the city of Palermo, these images can finally acquire visibility. Their exhibition draws attention to the necessity to start again from that extreme South of Europe represented by Sicily, in order to understand and possibly love the troubled human reality of the Italian peninsula.
To these authors, the present is not the unstoppable movement of chronological time, that ungraspable and invisible point that consumes itself, existing only in the here and now, so that it may live on, in the next moment, in the future.
To these authors, the present is the still immobility of an instant, which each meaningful event traces and imprints forever in the heart of their existence. Like in the act of remembering, which brings back what lies in the depth of memory to the light of conscience, the photographic act preserves the memory of the event that generates it and, through the image, it makes it present to the observer’s gaze.
Thanks to the instantaneous time of photography, the ungraspable and invisible point of chronological time is transformed into the vanishing point into the infinite where both the space of representation and the image that represents it are simultaneously generated. The performative photographic process, in its focusing in on all details of the visible, is made possible by the emotion aroused in the photographer’s heart by the experience of the mystery that each event of existence presents to his/her gaze. Lothar Schirmer, the first promoter and curator of the work of the Bechers and the Dusselforfer Schule, answering my unexpected question on the reason of the global success of those authors, replied straight away and with no hesitation: Because they are un-emotional!
On the same path of those German artists and their epigones now present all around the world, these Italian authors are going in the opposite direction, following the direction that leads to the unknowable and always new infinite of the human heart.