Apr 25, 2020

THE LAST FRONTIERS chapters videos previews

Here below you'll find the presentation videos of some chapters from the forthcoming book

Apr 12, 2020

THE LAST FRONTIERS a forthcoming book

We are in the final editing of the book "THE LAST FRONTIERS, Journey Through The Borders Of Humanity".
This is the result of over twenty years of documentary reportage through the fringes of the modern world. Not only areas closed to political boundaries but also regions where humanity lives in a still pre-globalization phase.
I consider this a work in progress therefore I promise myself, and to you, updates to the project contents.
A small portion of the images (over 200 are included right now) has been exhibited already last year, but the show with the same name will feature more photos and will be ready with the book.
Some of these photos from the show are visible in the Fine Art Web Site, at this link.

And here is my presentation of the project:

When I started photographing, about forty years ago, I was inspired by a world still full of ethnic and cultural diversity. These have rapidly dissolved towards the end of the last century, or the millennium, if we are to be more historical.  When I visited Guatemala for the first time, it was 1987, ninety percent of the population still wore traditional costumes. When I returned there, in 1998, this percentage had practically reversed: ten years had been enough to erase centuries, perhaps millennia, of culture and traditions. It was for this reason, due to the lack of important cultural varieties, that I devoted myself, in the last twenty years, the first of the new century, or of the new millennium, to the exploration of those fringes of the world where humanity lived still a pre-globalization phase.
These were the edges of the humanized world. Natural borders, where life still followed ancient rhythms because it was conditioned by the power of the environment. Or artificial, political borders, marked by history and by the contrasts of centuries. The former were already fading thanks to the rapid spread of technology, of the social networks that followed satellite television. The latter seemed destined to disappear thanks to economic globalization, the creation of free trade areas, the elimination of visas and passports. However, lines remained where contrasts and conflicts were concentrated, migratory flows and escapes from unlivable situations, walls that divided a world of apparent well-being from another that aspired to achieve the same conditions.
Then the reaction came. The opposition to the openings of the borders, the return of nationalisms, the fears of the different, have in fact slowed the commonality of thought that social networks were spreading over all humanity. In my view this is only a nostalgic and futile slowdown of a huge and inescapable process. opening the umbrella when a dam gives way. However, it comes too late to save that cultural diversity that is now compromised. What differentiates today those who are on both sides of our political lines is only the economic condition, not the set of values ​​that everyone carries in his backpack. So these are no longer the boundaries that I was exploring before, the places where diversity was evident, confronted, sometimes exploded.
Those last cultural fringes continue to fade even when the walls are raised.

Apr 10, 2020

MARI project: Book and Show updated again

In these Covid times we have been working on the MARI project, adding yet more photos (now 55 images) and a nice introduction by Massimo Morello, a true sea-lover.
Here, below the usual links, is the introduction in both English and Italian version.
Stay safe and enjoy!

Available in paperback on Amazon
Also available on Apple iBooks, Amazon Kindle and Google Play
The 55 fine art photos catalogue for the show MARI (Seas) in an elegant gallery of images from around the world. You can preview them on out Fine Art website at this link
English and Italian Texts

“I am a farmworker,” the “Mari” photographer often says. It is the proud claim of his cultural heritage, of his close ties to his roots. Something deep-rooted and genetic that also manifests in the place he calls home, where he sporadically and briefly touches base and where the landlocked horizon offers plenty of topographical, chromatic and conceptual variety.
Even so, he spends much more of his time away from home. That is when seas appear on the horizon of our photographer farmworker and he becomes the Mari photographer (hereafter Mp).
Mari, the plural form of mare (Italian for sea), denotes a geographical idea. As civilisation historian Fernand Braudel wrote of the Mediterranean: “Not one landscape but innumerable landscapes. Not a sea, but a succession of seas. Not a civilization, but civilizations amassed on top of one another. The Mediterranean is a very old crossroads. For millennia everything converges upon it, mixing and enriching its history: pack animals, vehicles, goods, ships, ideas, religions, arts of life”.
Seas plural, then, not the one “Boundless Sea” described by David Abulafia in “Human History of the Oceans”, in which he writes “ancient geographers (...) imagined it to be a single Okeanos of intermingled waters, a concept revived in modern use of the term ‘World Ocean’ to describe all the oceans as a single unit”. An archetypal sea described by Philip Hoare, a kind of marine Henry Thoreau, in “The Sea Inside”: “Perpetually renewing and destroying, the sea proposes a beginning and an ending, an alternative to our landlocked state, an existence to which we are tethered when we might rather be set free”.
In short, seas are where our Mp spends a lot of time working, which is also true of fishermen. In his essay “La letteratura italiana e il mare” (Italian Literature and the Sea), Goffredo Fofi describes fishermen as “farmworkers of the sea”. In Italy at least, “the world of fishermen and sailors had to be decisively, firmly anchored to the land”. This is also true of the Mp. He is anchored not just to his land of origin, his home village, fields and countryside which continue to be his safe harbour, but also to the land as a geographical space, the planet’s surface where, thinking back to Braudel, our entire history has played out. One land surrounding the sea, then, not the other way round. You only have to look at his images. Barring a few rare exceptions, the seas are shot from land. It is the land that insinuates itself into the sea, that rises out of it in the form of rocks and cliffs, that shapes its geometry, colours, life and work. It is on the land that the sea leaves its mark, whether as shipwrecks or the seabed revealed by a low tide.
In some shots the seas are shown from above, providing a bird’s eye view of how the water intersects with the land. Birds, not fish, are the animals seen most often in the photographs. Air and land, then, more than sea. In Mp’s images, the seas are almost latent, like exposed yet still indistinguishable images waiting to be developed in order to be seen. It’s an action or interpretation that arises from the Mp’s professional background. It’s what led him from the darkroom to the computer.
But what is the real and most profound connection that ties our photographer farmworker to the seas? The similarity between farmworkers and fishermen isn’t enough of an explanation. Unless you look at it as a parable hiding a latent truth. In this case, the unconscious desire to be a sailor, not a farmworker. And there’s one simple reason for it, as explained by Björn Larsson in “Raccontare il mare” (Stories of the Sea): “The advantage of being a sailor is that people expect you to leave sooner or later. That’s the basis for his whole reputation. The sailor who puts down roots quickly loses his rakish, adventurous appeal.” And those who know Mp know how much he dislikes “putting down roots”. The sea is where he channels his existential urges. “It gives you the chance to meet other kinds of people, the locals in each place. And to live a nomadic life...the sea is the place for trying out other lives, other thoughts, other identities, other passions, for putting yourself on the line”. But there’s more. “It’s inspired by the sea as a space where you are free to move around, where nation states have not yet managed to put borders, a place where you can see far into the distance, and where you can imagine what might be over the horizon.” It’s no surprise that this kind of thinking is behind another of the Mp’s collections, entitled “The Last Frontiers. A Journey Through the Borders of Humanity”, where he recounts forty years of work inspired, at least initially, by a world rich in ethnic and cultural diversity.
All this talk of journeys and horizons brings to mind a quote: “Some years ago—never mind how long precisely—(...) I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation”. I have left out the first three words, the most famous ones, which would immediately identify it as the opening line of “Moby-Dick”: “Call me Ishmael”. But only because I wanted to apply it to myself. And to the Mari photographer, obviously.
«Sono un contadino» ripete spesso il fotografo di “Mari”. È la rivendicazione orgogliosa di un’eredità culturale, di un legame con le origini. Qualcosa di profondamente radicato, genetico, che manifesta anche nel luogo che definisce casa, là dove vive le sue brevi stanzialità e dove l’orizzonte è di terra in tutte le sue sfumature topografiche, cromatiche e concettuali.
Ben più lunghi, però, i suoi periodi nomadici. Ed ecco allora che all’orizzonte del nostro fotografo contadino appaiono i mari e diviene il Fotografo di Mari (d’ora in poi FdM).
Mari, appunto, che nel plurale definiscono un’idea geografica. Come ha scritto lo storico delle civiltà Fernand Braudel a proposito del Mediterraneo: “Non un paesaggio, ma innumerevoli paesaggi. Non un mare, ma un susseguirsi di mari. Non una civiltà̀, ma una serie di civiltà̀ accatastate le une sulle altre, insomma, un crocevia antichissimo. Da millenni tutto vi confluisce, complicandone e arricchendone la storia: bestie da soma, vetture, merci, navi, idee, religioni, modi di vivere”.
Mari, dunque, non il “Boundless Sea”, il mare sconfinato narrato da David Abulafia nella sua “Human History of the Oceans” il “mare immaginato dagli antichi geografi come un singolo Okeanos di acque mescolate, concetto che rivive nell’uso contemporaneo di ‘mondo oceano’ per descrivere gli oceani come una singola unità”. Il Mare archetipo descritto da Philip Hoare, un Henry Thoreau marino, in “The Sea Inside”: “Nel suo continuo ciclo di creazione e distruzione, il mare rappresenta un inizio e una fine, un’alternativa a un’esistenza bloccata, un’esistenza cui siamo legati, quando potremmo invece liberarci”.
Per il nostro FdM, insomma, questi sono un luogo di lavoro, proprio come accade per i pescatori. Non a caso nel saggio “La letteratura italiana e il mare”, Goffredo Fofi definisce i pescatori come “Contadini del mare”. Almeno in Italia, “il mondo dei pescatori e dei marinai doveva ancorarsi alla terra, decisamente, saldamente”. Anche, lui, il FdM, è saldamente ancorato alla terra. Non solo a quella d’origine, terra come territorio, borgo, campi e campagna, che continua a essere il suo approdo. Ma anche alla terra in quanto spazio geografico, strato superficiale del pianeta, dove, continuando a pensare a Braudel, si osserva lo sviluppo della storia. Una terra, quindi che circonda il mare e non viceversa. Basta osservare le sue immagini. Salvo rare eccezioni i mari sono ripresi dalla terra. È la terra che s’insinua nel mare, che emerge dal mare in scogli e falesie, che frange le onde, che ne definisce le geometrie, i colori, la vita, il lavoro. È la terra in cui il mare lascia le sue tracce, siano esse relitti o fondali scoperti dalla bassa marea. 
In alcuni casi i mari sono osservati dal cielo, a volo d’uccello, ancora una volta per definirne meglio il disegno che compongono nelle intersezioni con la terra. Così come sono uccelli e non pesci gli animali che popolano queste foto. Aria e terra, dunque, più che mare. I mari, nelle immagini del FdM, sono quasi latenti, come le immagini esposte ma ancora invisibili, che attendevano lo sviluppo per apparire. Un’azione o interpretazione, anche questa, che deriva dalla storia professionale del FdM. Che l’ha condotto dalla camera oscura al computer.
Ma allora, qual è il legame vero, più profondo che lega il nostro fotografo contadino, con il mare, i Mari? Non è sufficiente, a questo punto, la similitudine tra contadini e pescatori. A meno che non la si voglia interpretare come una parabola, che nasconda una verità latente. In questo caso il desiderio inconscio di essere marinaio e non contadino. Per un motivo semplice, descritto da Björn Larsson in “Raccontare il mare”: “Il vantaggio di essere marinaio, in effetti, è che la gente dà per scontato che ripartirai. È la base stessa del mito. Il marinaio che mette radici perde presto il suo potere di sedurre e di far sognare”. E chi conosce un po’ il FdM sa quanto rifugga dal “mettere radici”. Il mare, invece, è il collettore delle sue pulsioni esistenziali. “E’ la possibilità di un incontro con l’altro, con lo straniero del posto. È poter vivere da nomadi…il mare è il luogo in cui è possibile sperimentare altre vite, altri pensieri, altre identità, altre passioni, insomma mettersi in gioco”. Ma c’è di più. “Si ispira al mare come spazio dove si può essere sempre un po’ liberi di muoversi, dove le nazioni non sono riuscite a imporre ovunque le loro frontiere, un luogo dove si vede lontano, dove si può sempre sognare quel che si nasconde oltre l’orizzonte”. Non è un caso che proprio alle ultime frontiere, il FdM abbia dedicato un’altra raccolta d’immagini: “The Last Frontiers. A Journey Through the Borders of Humanity”, dove racconta quarant’anni di lavoro ispirato, almeno all’inizio, da un mondo ricco di diversità etniche e culturali.
Allora tanto vale concludere questa introduzione con un incipit. “Qualche anno fa – non importa quanto di preciso - pensai di viaggiare un po’ per mare e di vedere la parte acquatica del mondo. È il mio modo di combattere la malinconia e di controllare la circolazione”.  Ho omesso le prime due parole, le più famose, quelle che fanno immediatamente riconoscere “Moby Dick”: “Chiamatemi Ismaele”. Ma solo perché volevo farla mia. E del Fotografo di Mari, ovviamente.