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Inside photography with Lo sguardo radicale


A journey through great Italian photography, following the ideas and works of authors who marked its milestones and inspired subsequent developments: it begins with the pioneers, such as Luigi Veronesi and Franco Grignani, and continues with authors who put research at the heart of their photography, such as Franco Vaccari, Ugo Mulas and Nino Migliori.

The exhibition Lo sguardo radicale. Passione, curiosità e rigore nella fotografia italiana di ricerca (The Radical Gaze. Passion, curiosity and rigour in Italian research photography), held at the Palazzo Comunale in Seriate, near Bergamo, is also an opportunity to see some unpublished works and to discover cross-references between the different means of expressions used by the authors.

An exhibition about photography may seem tautological. In fact, a reflection on research in photography, a theme not so common in recent years, prompts discussion on how photographers approach photography, as a means of expression and as a language. Although “an exhaustive history of Italian research photography cannot be presented here, because of the great eclecticism of Italian photography ”, as curator Roberto Mutti says, the works by 46 authors are on show: a body of work that is “a reflection on the subject of what was once called ‘avant-garde’ because, anticipating it, it traced the boundaries of a new and different expressiveness with which contemporaneity imposed a confrontation and even more so today “, the curator adds.

The exhibition offers a special atmosphere in which to savour what was ‘the new’ in past decades – and still is today – the deliberate breaking of rules and conventions. It is also the place to observe the dialogue with art that has led to certain creative choices and reflections, of authors in dialogue with international experiences, trying to go ‘beyond’. According to the curator, “It is precisely this ‘beyond’ that is the subject of our reflection, because it is argued here that research in Italy, since the post-war period, has had two almost contemporary points of reference. The first – the Real Time Exhibitions, by Franco Vaccari, culminating in 1972 at the Venice Biennale with ‘Leave a photographic trace of your passage on these walls’ – emphasises the relationship between photography and performance, while the second – the Verifiche (Verifications) carried out by Ugo Mulas in 1971 and 1972) – is a reflection on the ontology of photographic language”.

This follows from the research of the 1930s by Luigi Veronesi and Franco Grignani, who were able to put photography into dialogue with abstraction and optical art. “Before that, we must mention the results of Futurist photography (with Wanda Wurz or Anton Giulio Bragaglia), but also professionals such as Bruno Stefani, or enthusiasts such as Arrigo Orsi, with his investigations on composition and visual structure. Nino Migliori remains an essential figure, for his ability to move in a thousand directions, producing works that ingeniously revisit the lesson of the historical avant-gardes in a contemporary key”, Mutti adds.

Also on show are works by Mario Giacomelli and Davide Mosconi, characterised by their contiguity with avant-garde music, by Aldo Tagliaferro co-founder of MecArt and Ugo La Pietra, Giannetto Bravi and Enrico Cattaneo, as well as Fabrizio Garghetti and Giuseppe Chiari, exponents of Fluxus. And then there is “Mario Cresci, who in 1969 exhibited a cascade of transparent boxes containing fragments of photographs at the gallery il Diaframma, in Milan, creating Europe’s first photographic environment. Giancarlo Maiocchi/Occhiomagico brings Man Ray and postmodernism into dialogue within his aesthetic of ‘shimmering mythology’. Although not central to their production, Franco Fontana, Mario De Biasi with his investigations into chromaticism and Loredana Celano with her reflections on vision, were also involved in the research. Luigi Erba, Paolo Aldi with his wife Lia, with a re-reading of Photodynamism, and Guido Bartoli, with his revisiting of Mulas’s Verifiche in the digital world, have dedicated themselves to conceptual analysis,” the curator says.

If Mavi Ferrando breaks down the elements to achieve a three-dimensionality reminiscent of his sculptures, Otello Bellamio and Paolo Marcolongo work with chymigrams and Kirlian photographs. portrait and figure are the fruit of a reflection on subjectivity for Roberto Kusterle, and Franco Donaggio questions the themes of identity, while Marcello Vigoni follows an imaginative and complex path. One of the focal points is the theme of space, taken up, for example, by “Maurizio Galimberti, who breaks it down and recomposes it in search of an essence, while Marina Ballo Charmet and Paolo Novelli deconstruct space to recover its meaning in an almost empty space”, Roberto Mutti adds. Among the authors whose images are on display, are Giordano Bonora, Claudio Comito, Gabriele Croppi, Florence Di Benedetto, Francesca Della Toffola, Ferruccio Ferroni, Francesca Meloni, Sergio Oriani, Roberto Polillo, Nicolò Quirico, Edoardo Romagnoli, Euro Rotelli, Licinio Sacconi, Sergio Scabar and Giovanni Tavano.

The exhibition thus offers 46 original visions of the world and, above all, the fact that each author has added (or is adding) a piece to our awareness of the language of photography.

The ‘Postcard Exhibition’, a small-scale reproduction of the works on display (from PhotoSHOWall), and a selection of artists’ books complete the exhibition.

Paola Sammartano


Lo sguardo radicale. Passione, curiosità e rigore nella fotografia italiana di ricerca
From December 10, 2023 to January 13, 2024
Sala Espositiva “Virgilio Carbonari” Palazzo Comunale
piazza Alebardi 1
24068 Seriate BG

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