Marco Signorini – Photographer, Italy

“The pre-existing glances”

LS: Which is the piece of work that best represents your research and that you recognize yourself in the most?

MS: It sounds quite hard to me to make such a choice. All my works are important to me, chiefly because they are part of a bigger project that includes them all. “Echo” for instance seems to be the most relevant job so far, moreover that it has been finally published. But in reality it collects photographs that have been taken in different times and places, in ten years time. The book “Echo” groups together different jobs, or it is even better to call them “episodes” that altogether represent a test of a selection of images that I previously shot. At the same time it is indeed a starting point to pursue my research. Anyway “Europos Centras”, a photo shoot that I realized in Lithuania in 1994, is for sure a work that I consider of paramount importance in my professional experience. It allowed me to “cross the line” between my study period and the attempt to start my career. “Europos Centras” has been published with a wide report in the London “Creative Camera” magazine in 1996, but at the same time it has been criticised by Jean Claude Lemagny during the Arles festival. Lemagny himself the year before asked me for ten images of my production for the photo collection of the national library in Paris. I realised that “Europos Centras” was the very first job that I could identify with: it inspired contrasting opinions about its value.

Europos Centras

LS: Is there anything in specific that inspires and drives you in creating a certain feeling?

MS: As far as I struggle to plan a journey aiming to create images that are suitable for me, everything happens to be ruled by chance. Obviously the “blind Chance” is somehow taken under control: I choose places and specific shooting times, but the settings that appear to me are absolutely original and not pre-arranged. Regardless some of my photographs suggest a pictorial type of aesthetics, they are not made up on purpose, I don’t rigidly display the elements on the blank “canvas”. My photography is about reality; it refers to “first level” reality, a definition already used in photography. People who “dwell” in my works are not models, the light effects are real, I never added any in order to change light quantity or quality. This “adherence” during the photo session doesn’t put more value on the final result. This is just an attitude that kicks off from my training process, that I leave behind afterwards using other means, like colour filters and other adjustments during the post-production phase. The combination of these two apparently conflicting aspects help creating that “specific feeling” that you mentioned in your question.

Echo

LS: Could you tell us something about the importance of people in your photographs?

MS: In my photographs people are important not as portraits, as a photographic genre, but as part of the whole. I love lingering indifferently on things, places and human beings. My interest in individuals takes its origin on the fact that some Italian landscape photography, that I trained with, mostly privileged the metaphysical look of the outskirts, of a landscapes full of layered (controlla significato) marks, of anonymous and abandoned architecture. In my work I wanted to insert also the people, then. Places are defined by the presence of human beings. “Europos Centras” represents the geographical centre of Europe, according to specific geographical references. When I photographed this par excellence symbolic “no-place” I tried to represent it through characters and details. Families, bathers, dogs, remains of improvised fires, tufts of grass, paths. If every place is the centre of the world, so as every element of the world is the centre, it is essential part of the whole. Moreover, in my most recent shots, people don’t have function of “sizing” nature that overwhelms them. They do not lose themselves in gazing at the infinite space, but they are symbols where to reflect ourselves and put the typical questions: who am I? Where am I going? “Contemplate” turns into “look into oneself”.

Earth

LS: What is the relationship between the thinking behind your photographic work and Florence, the city where you live at?

MS: Maybe the only positive aspect of being born and living in Florence is to be in contact at a very high level with the ancient art world. To be in such a close touch with it taught me to see beyond the “visible”, looking for depth and value in images and research. Such a depth goes beyond  the skills of the artists of those outstanding works of art that are displayed in the museums in Florence. Those skills anyway help to measure that technical quality that I still consider important. Nowadays, the reason why that idea of beauty in art, that is full of symbols, took its origin almost doesn’t have sense anymore. Nevertheless I try anyway to get the secret in those images that arise in me emotions and aesthetic satisfaction.

LS: The use of light is of paramount importance. Does it help to create the story?

MS: Light is the medium that the world shows off by. But there are reflections and glares that the world seems to show off differently by. Grabbing specific moments can be crucial for the “depth” of an image. Nothing to do with the Bresson’s “fleeting instant”. It is not just catching different elements that join together to make a photo shoot successful. It is about an ordinary setting that can reveal unexpected meanings just through light.

((Ra))

LS: What does a photographic exhibition or publishing a book mean for  you, and how in your opinion these displaying and communication forms are going to change, to the spreading of online publications?

MS: In my opinion an artistic project can be considered fully complete when it shows in different ways and can be easily used by anyone. But all these different facets must have a specific meaning and a special communicative strength to be effective. The on-line spreading of images represents another of these “aspects”, even if they are mostly simple collections of pictures to browse without an added value from the IT language. However the ongoing flourishing of online magazines, blogs and portals about the photographic culture is definitely a positive result. This is a beautiful world where to get lost in and discover new artists and ideas. I believe that mainly in Italy, where not only this specialised type of publishing can’t find a proper way to express, internet covers a necessary role spreading information about subjects otherwise unknown.

I don’t mean that the web will substitute real exhibitions and publications, but each of them will play an important part. There will be more and more specialised/selective publications for collectors and the exhibitions will be more and more detailed.

((Ra))

LS: Could you describe your experience as guest curator of your Photoblog ,and what’s the influence of this medium in your photographic activity?

MS: My “photoblog” started both by chance and for necessity. I have been browsing in internet for quite a while, to find out information about international artistic activities, artists, publishing projects, forums and technical details. Surfing the net I discovered interesting situations, often arisen from passion and enthusiasm, but highly detailed and professionally taken care of. All this made feel that Italy is left behind also about it. Not only culturally speaking but also in terms of personal and emotional involvement towards what we love. I mean that even if we have the feeling that nothing is working around us, we should “endure” and trust something that probably doesn’t represent the perfect solution, but that will compensate some lacks. Then I presented my students some artists using my blog. It helped a lot providing easy but useful educational support. I needed to “expand” my classes, due to the short time at my disposal for the photography courses at university.

It was nice to realise that this approach was of interest also for other people. Many of them  appreciated the quality and extra care I took in the selection of images. Currently my blog has a quite steady “audience” taking part with comments, requests of advise, offers of collaborations. All this pushes me to think also about my job as a photographer. At the moment a new setting of the blog is in progress that hopefully will enlarge my proposals. I personally believe that the cultural improvement of the context that we work for is essential. Especially in Italy we have to work a lot, otherwise there is no point to have artists, critics, curators and historians in such an arid environment.

www.marcosignorini.it

marco signorini photoblog