FotoGrafia. Rome International Festival of Photography
April 4th - May 25th 2008
Seeing normality. Photography portrays daily life
The seventh edition of FotoGrafia-Festival Internazionale di Roma promoted by Comune di Roma, produced by Zoneattive, with the artistic direction by Marco Delogu, from April 4th to May 25th: the appointment with the most interesting and innovative proposals form all over the world, essential match and exchanging point lfor the international photograpphy system.
The subject choosen for this edition is Seeing normality. Photography portrays daily life that - according to Marco Delogu - shows "how photography for us is the best instrument to describe every day life: a concept that comes from a will to tell normality in opposition to extraordinary".
FotoGrafia exhibitions at Palazzo delle Esposizioni
curated by Marco Delogu
Interest in the Rome Commission- FotoGrafia Alcatel-Lucent arises from the merging of the photographers' perspectives and the city's visual power: Anders Petersen and Graciela Iturbide report on the dimension of their own worlds in searching for and discovering their own Rome, Josef Koudelka continues his long and rigorous research on landscapes ("Human beings relate to the city like flesh to the skeleton. Without them the buildings and the walls would be the ghostlike framework of a chest x-ray. This is what the photographer Koudelka's fleshless city is like" writes Erri De Luca in the introduction for the catalogue), and Martin Parr adds multitudes of summer tourists to his previous work entitled "The last resort" and "Small World". In 2004 Olivo Barbieri in his portraying from above, only used the sun of the central hours of the day, exalting the beauty of the characteristically incisive light of Roman winters. These previous five editions of the "Rome commission" registered the city's capability to absorb these personal projects, and so this year for the first time the commission was divided into two parts; a collective exhibition with twelve photographers who specifically created a project on this city in recent months The twelve photographers who worked on this collective project are Guy Tillim, who also worked on Documenta 2007, David Farrell, Miguel Rio Branco, Claudia Jaguaribe, Pieter Hugo, Milton Gandel, Hiruyoki Masuyama, Shigu Rui, Paolo Ventura, Raffaela Mariniello, Tim Davis and Graciela Iturbide, who created the "Rome commission 2007" and who has just complete a great exhibition at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.) in harmony with the theme for FotoGrafia 2008 "Seeing normality", and the work of one artist, Gabriele Basilico, who travelled through the city on the river, from the dam in Prima Porta to the bridge south of the ring road, with photographs reminding one of his most important work such as "Bord de mer", due to the relationship with the water and the sky, and his Beirut dated 1991, inspiring a powerful and historicised perspective of a city. Unlike Olivo Barbieri, Gabriele Basilico looks for a widespread and slightly gloomy Nordic light, provided with a strange kind of romanticism often extraneous to the vision of this city, exalted by a use of colour unusual in his photographic style. Is this Rome? Rome is also this, and perhaps the river, in addition to being the reason for which this city was founded, is also the reason for which the city remains, hidden by the 20th century river banks and by its long and deceiving bends.
Raffaela Mariniello, David Farrell, Guy Tillim, Paolo Ventura, Pieter Hugo, Tim Davis, Claudia Jaguaribe, Milton Gendel, Shi Gouruo, Miguel Rio Branco
Curated by Marco Delogu
The starting point for this first collective exhibition strangely consists in photos from the Fifties (check shadows): Milton Gendel is the only one exhibiting photographs not specifically created for this occasion, but these are images with a powerful symbolic value. He is American residing only in Rome, he exhibits two photographs that are icons of one of his arrivals in the city, and of his life that since then has moved to Rome, no longer able to turn back. Graciela Iturbide, who created the "2007 Rome commission" and has just won the 2008 edition of the prestigious Hasselblad Award, instead recently returned to once again photograph the botanical gardens and the plants she has always had a passion for, which are also her link with Mexico and those deserts between the USA and her homeland that she has so often travelled.
The pine trees photographed by David Farrell are too a visual datum that reminds us of the woods and trees from the Ireland of ‘Innocent Landscape, a series of photographs created in the place where nine young men were killed and buried by the IRA between the Seventies and the early Eighties, to then move to the Iwate region in Japan, the first project exhibited at the festival, to then return to Rome with his work and workshop on the Via Francigena, also portraying the landscape around Lugo di Romagna.The project by Guy Tillim, another photographer the festival is very close to, is the consequence of a new project to be shown in 2009 at the fond hcb. Miguel Rio Branco exhibits his work for the first time at the festival, and with this small series of photographs perhaps for the first time he has discovered an enclosed and discreet dimension of a wide-ranging and Baroque spirit using light in a refined manner, as well as his visual and cultural background with roots in a Brazil drenched in religiosity as much as in a sensual street spirit. Also a Brazilian and also present for the first time at FotoGrafia, Claudia Jaguaribe has addressed her first impact with the city of Rome through movement, the fear of experiencing millenniums of history at the speed of a public transport bus, crossing the city transversally and returns the city to life, with a perspective that discovers in the transitory the best antidote for facing the eternal.
This project on the relationship between the transitory and all that is imbued with history, between timelines with different consistency that alter the perception of reality, is addressed with a totally ironical approach by Raffaela Mariniello, present at the first edition of FotoGrafia with black and white images of Naples that made her famous, and who here criticises the phenomenon of mass tourism in Italy which has transformed our cities into mass consumer goods and large surreal souvenirs.
An approach differing totally from that of Paolo Ventura, who works on memories, on reminiscence, recreating small little theatres made with poor materials, destroyed each time immediately after being photographed. His work, which introduces us to the transformation processes of the memory, was created immediately after last years presentation at the festival of ‘Winter Stories', on post World War II Milan: a project with a specific temporal reference, unlike these image of a Rome without a specific time setting and yet so preset to the perception of those who live in this city and know it.
Rome's real dimension, the need to strip the city of its myth to rediscover it in small things, in those discarded or rather unusual aspects, at times also not very identifiable with the clichés often used, are all focal points in the research undertaken by Tim Davis, a scholarship holder at the American Academy, who for almost a year has done nothing but wander around Rome, allowing himself to be dragged by the city's flow, inspired by the idea that what appears as discarded today may become the centre of attention for an archaeology of the future researching the story of the city beyond its monuments. The need to place numerous photographs side by side arises precisely from this lack of monumentality, from the need to deconstruct the city so as to discover points of contact allowing one not to be sucked in by its beauty.
Although different, it is a form of creativity close to that of Pieter Hugo, another photographer, South African too, like Tillim, who has already taken part in this festival with a project entitled Albinos. Pieter Hugo always tends to address the reality of things through their marginal aspects, or those placed on the edges. He chooses corners usually kept in the shadows, not only from a visual point of view but also socially and culturally; he prefers portraits, as if this approach involving concentrating on people, allows him to look things straight in the face. This is what he did with Rome, portraying a family, chosen randomly, a family reflecting everything and nothing of this city, in their own home, discreetly entering the heart of things.
One certainly could not describe Shi Guoruo's approach as discreet, the only Eastern photographer present this year, with the monumental photograph of the Antonina Column. An image familiar to many, but presented through the bewildering effect of a large negative, and portrayed using an almost theatrical method, creating a dark room the size of a room, which as in an ancient feat does not renounce addressing the burden of this city in a manner involving contemporary monumentality.
Chinese Wild West
Curated by Marco Delogu
To quench its thirst for oil, its hunger for copper, uranium and wood, Beijing has sent out its state companies and its adventurous entrepreneurs to conquer Africa.
For the 500.000 Chinese who have emigrated to the 'dark continent' there is the promise of a 21st century Wild West. Some have struck gold and run large conglomerates that span whole regions of Africa, others are still selling their cheap goods on the burning hot roadsides of the poorest countries in the world.
For the Africans, the arrival of the Chinese is perhaps the most important event of the forty years of independence. The Chinese do not look like the former colonialists. They build roads, dams and hospitals and win over the people. They speak neither of democracy nor transparency and they win over the dictators.
In 2007, Paolo Woods set out with journalist Serge Michel to meet the Chinese stirring up Africa. They accompanied them along the railroads of Angola, through the forests of the Congo and the karaoke bars of Nigeria. From the barren countryside of Central China to the leather armchairs of African ministries, Paolo Woods' photographs capture the adventures of the Chinese who came to Africa to make their fortunes and who invested their lives and their money in a continent that the West has long considered fit only for hand outs. These are rare images: Beijing wants to keep a low profile for its conquest. But though it remains largely unexposed these photographs portray a phenomenon, a new dimension of globalization, that threatens to leave the West behind.
"Normalisation" was an ideological programme involving political and social integration applied in Czechoslovakia after 1968, a sort of performance that only indirectly affected Lucia Nimcova's generation. Distance has permitted her to observe her country's past with greater lucidity, in searching for reasons that led to the gradual transformation of the communist system in Eastern Europe, involving an analysis of the photographic archives in her city, Humenné.
The winner of last year's FotoGrafia Baume & Mercier International Award, Lucia Nimcova has created a peculiar integration of her personal perspective and archival material, a complex and extremely realistic mosaic that with the small stories from her city manages to throw light on a past era, that is however still present.
In addition to revealing a photographic tradition buried in the oblivion of communist censorship, Nimcova poses questions that are still current ones through her extremely original work that is only apparently midway between documentation and fiction.
A Zoneattive and Baume&Mercier Production
In the Shadow of things
Leonie Purchas' work has for some year been concentrated on families: from Provence to Cuba, from London to Rome, once welcomed by a family she photographed it from the interior, exploring relationships, and the emergence of the single individualities. Last year for the very first time, she turned the lens on her own family, aware of the intimacy she had achieved in entering the lives of people."In the Shadow of Things" concentrates on the life of her mother, Bron, who after the breakdown of her first marriage, twelve years later started a new life with her partner David and their son Jake, moving to an isolated house surrounded by fields and forests. In spite of the years that had past, most of the boxes used for the move had still remained unopened. Bron had fought for years a compulsive obsessive disorder, that with its intricate rules and rituals had resulted in everyday life in heaps of objects piled up all over the place. For many months Leonie tried to help her mother to regain control over her home and her life, trying to express though her photographs the comparison with a world she thought she knew and that continues to reveal itself.
A Zoneattive production in collaboration with Goldenshot (London)
April 6th - May 25th 2008
Curated by Marco Delogu and Roberto Koch
FotoGrafia - Rome's International Festival, for the first time dedicates one section of this Festival to the presentation of the best photographic books published in Italy during 2007, also offering a wide and complete choice of the books published by a dynamic and growing sector in Italian publishing. Many publishers have accepted the Festival's invitation to join in this initiative, presenting work which the public will be able to see and read in the Sala della Fontana at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni. In addition to over one hundred books, there will also be eight photographic exhibitions, chosen by the curators, providing an opportunity to admire some of the work also present in the books presented here. An international jury of experts will choose the most interesting book, which will be the object of an exhibition at the 2009 edition of FotoGrafia - Rome's International Festival.