A jewel emerging from the blue sea of the Gulf of Naples, an island with a lush nature beloved by writers and poets. Capri, reina de roca… this is the incipit of the poem Pablo Neruda dedicated to the island when he got there exiled. But Capri was a source of artistic inspiration for Axel Munthe, Francis Scott Fitzgerald, Marguerite Yourcenar, to quote a few.
Capri has also been a favourite destination for famous photographers, like Wilhelm von Gloeden and Herbert List (contributor to Vogue and Life, who left us black and white shots of 1930s Capri), Ferdinando Scianna and Giovanni Gastel, besides photographers like Valerio di Domenico, who captured with his shots so many personalities from the cinema and international jet set of the time.
The island not only offers unmissable insights for those who photograph for profession and/or passion, but also hosts a Photography Festival. The theme of this 14th edition, curated by Denis Curti, is ‘Mediterranean vision’. The result is a body of images exhibited in a magical place, the Certosa di San Giacomo, built in 1371, a place where the endless languages of emerging Italian and international talents merge to narrate the quintessence of the Island of Capri. The photographers (through more than 60 images on show), “with their personal artistic visions, compose an exhibition poised between space and time.
The desire to contribute, through a precise fusion of different expressive mediums and approaches, to revitalising the iconographic perception of the Capri landscape is also renewed in this edition of the festival”, Denis Curti, the director of the Festival, says. The images collect the projects of the open call launched to recount the island, according to the following themes: Vertigo, Portraits, Landscape, Historical Sites and Architecture. More than 130 photographers from Italy and abroad participated in the open call. On show there are three selected portfolios, those by Davide Esposito, Simone Malgrati e Claudia Vanacore and three shots per theme.
Davide Esposito, with his Sogno di un’ombra, faces the enigma of identity, a concept with infinite facets, which has always touched the human soul. A black and white, with almost dazzling lights and dense shadows, suggests a dream-like journey. L’Intervallo by Claudia Vanacore, recounts the emotions of an Italian summer with a neo-realist flavour while exploring the ever-thinner boundary between truth and fiction, in a world dominated by social networks where everything moves at great speed and the collective imagination seems to clash with personal interpretation. The dimension of travel is among the most poetic aspects of our existence, as Simone Malgrati tells us in Raccolta fotografica N°1, Capri, Italia. The grain of the images shapes the subjects as if they were statues and enhances their contours and nuances.
The event is promoted by Fondazione Capri, in collaboration with Direzione Regionale Musei Campania, Ministero della Cultura. Since 2009 Fondazione Capri has been organising exhibitions of well-known photographers who have immortalised the island, like Ferdinando Scianna, Giovanni Gastel, Mimmo Jodice, Olivo Barbieri and Maurizio Galimberti.
The photographic plates of the Centro Caprense Ignazio Cerio
Facing the Piazzetta, the beating heart and crossroads of Capri, the Centro Caprense Ignazio Cerio, enlivens the island with cultural activities and its more than 20,000 historical and naturalistic exhibits housed in the museum. The Library of the Centro, is specialized in the history of the island of Capri, was founded in 1960 by Edwin Cerio in memory of his father Ignatius, a doctor who moved to the island in the mid-19th century and had high-profile international scientific relations. Alongside around 6,000 volumes and over 4,000 manuscripts, it holds the Arturo Cerio photography collection, with around 600 plates taken in the early 1900s. The Cerio collection bears witness to the ‘romantic’ Capri, classical views, the Faraglioni and the Piazzetta, Via Krupp, as well as personalities and family groups. The plates are accompanied by prints dating back to the 1990s when the plates were restored. The iconographic fund also includes a miscellany by various authors up to the 1980s and a collection of postcards from the 1950s onwards. A written request must be made to the library to view them. A partial and descriptive cataloguing is available on the national Opac (Online Public Access Catalogue).
Photography at Villa San Michele. In the footsteps of Axel Munthe
Anacapri, too, has much to offer in terms of photography. Villa San Michele, with its extraordinary garden, is a must-see place. It’s the life’s work at Capri of the Swedish physician and author Axel Munthe (1857–1949), who recounts the story of his life and the creation of the villa in The Story of San Michele (1929), one of the first international bestsellers in modern time.
The Villa houses quite an important art collection, including Roman, Etruscan and Egyptian sculptures. One of these is the fabled 3200-year-old sphinx. The Villa also preserves a photographic collection, with images dating from the late 19th century to the early decades of the 20th century, a veritable historical album, dealing with Axel Munthe, his life at San Michele and the personalities who frequented this enchanted place. Among them, to name but a few: King Gustav V and Queen Victoria of Sweden, and the art collector and photographer Giuseppe Primoli. Other collections refer to architectonic views of the Villa and botanical-naturalistic aspects of the garden. The photo collection can be consulted upon written request. In the garden, where every season has its flowers and scents, in the Olivetum pavilion, Lotta Antonsson, whose work is inspired by postmodern art, exhibits the show I’m a Woman. They are almost disturbing images that embody and break stereotypes of female beauty (with a focus on the 1960s and 1970s), collages made by complementing vintage photographs from fashion and erotic magazines with natural objects such as stones, corals, and shells in order to reflect on the ephemeral nature of things, questioning the objectification of women. The exhibition is part of The Salon of the Sfinx cultural festival, which explores “conflict” as a theme, described through art, theatre, literature and music.
Visione Mediterranea. Festival della Fotografia a Capri
August 28 – October 16, 2022
Certosa di San Giacomo
Via Certosa 10
80076 Capri (NA), Italy
Centro Caprense Ignazio Cerio
Piazzetta Ignazio Cerio, 5
80073 Capri (NA), Italy
I Am a Woman. Lotta Antonsson
August 24 – October 31, 2022
Villa San Michele
Viale Axel Munthe, 34
80071 Anacapri (NA), Italy