Time never stops
(Andrea Tinterri, no.69 Red Coral - the breaking time)
Milan, Tokyo, Parma, Brescia. City nights into which man dematerialises: urban deserts; cars turn into endoskeletons, armour left outside the doors: residential areas contrast with the stature of huge buildings, churches, baptisteries, skyscrapers. Cities suspended in time, waiting for something that might just happen, an event, a new beginning. Pezzani grasps this time, as a celebral hiatus, non-existent, imaginary. Clings on, shrinks away, hides, flees. But to get away it’s not enough to remove oneself (in time or in space), it’s necessary to build a new place, something that was not there before: an unprecedented structure.
Andrea Tinterri: «Pezzani’s cities are spaces and times in synthetic form, cleansed: his is a labor limae, a matter of subtraction to reach the very fundamentals in which to look for an abode and where he can rest, albeit momentarily.»
Gianni Pezzani: «The city is a temporal superimposition invented by our fathers: we walk in sets constructed on past centuries, and over the centuries. I love the historic centres of European cities, I love well-designed cars. Very often the chassis is useful to hide all that I don’t want to see of the urban centres, the worthless objects, useless scribbling, vessels, pointlessness personified.
I dream and wish for a city that welcomes me, that doesn’t reject me, that isn’t hostile to me. By day I see only rivalry, as if we were in a forest in which living space was fought over by combative roots. The night hides all this. I want a calming structure, in order to rest, to rest the mind.»
«Time in the city at night is eternal, it’s suspended, it’s not decipherable mechanically.»
«Time never stops, clocks were invented to graphically display its passing; the past is that which we remember. I would love to write, to have time slow down to be able to watch and measure the tiniest unit of time possible, as you do with matter, made up of atoms, and particles ever smaller and more mysterious. There will also be a fraction of time which it’s simply not possible to measure. Prizes in sporting competitions are won and lost by milliseconds, unthinkable measurements even in our recent past, yet today absorbed and considered normal by people of all ages. Perhaps, with “A Fly’s eye” I could measure my movements in millionths of a second, and then if there was a temposcopio using atomic scanning we could get close to time standing still, which in my view is that which would allow me to see a river of electrons flowing by and rasping the tungsten wire of my light bulb until it becomes incandescent.»
«It’s not by chance that Pezzani photographs cities without plotting a pre-arranged route: he heads off in search of a picture, a flâneur (stroller) in search of an epiphany. He rejects a precise trajectory, refuses to carry a map in order to know exactly where he might find himself. There is no research, just labyrinthine bewilderment, a loss of orientation and thence escape, dream, flee. But by what means of escape? And just how quickly?
He runs away from an oppressive reality, he runs away to search for an orgasm of well-being and he escapes by building a spaceship of light, with which to journey. Gianni Pezzani abandon the roads, the squares, the city, to take refuge in a small room in a house in the country, to photograph spheres, prisms, objects in geometric forms which rotate in perpetual motion, suspended above magnets which repel and create a vacuum, a space for alienation, banishment. The camera resting on the tripod is set on a long exposure to create flying saucers, tiny two-dimensional flying saucers.»
«Magnetica leaps out of the past. It forms part of the mystery of our universe.
Our constellation is expanding at a colossal speed, but everything appears to be standing still.»
«Pezzani is taking the observer for a ride; what are these spheres, these geometric forms, these oval shapes that seem to gyrate? That seem to stand still?
Nothing, only a means with which to shift, with which to deceive, a means of transport for the mind (the body is mere machinery). The Magnetica project appears almost to pre-empt the research into nocturnal cities, into constructions of urban centres in their own image and likeness. Because in Magnetica Pezzani defines an evanescent form, which seems almost to have descended from on high, something which is here to save us, which comes to kidnap us, but it’s a common, shared abduction, sought out, wished for. And it is the abandonment of these evanescent and pandering forms which facilitate the escape, and hence form a landing-up place, a haven for the night, for the deserted cities, for man’s elimination, and a space from which to set off again: at long last, innocuous. It’s an approach towards abstraction, which has nothing to do with the informal. It is not the offspring of Nino Migliori’s experimentation in which fortuity or randomness was an integral part of the poetic. Look instead at the photographic studies of Luigi Veronesi, and at the culture of Italian abstraction, at Mario Radice and Atanasio Soldati, and at the same Veronesi at Rho.»
«I come from a scientific background, I graduated in agricultural science at the University of Florence, I studied chemistry, I read widely, particularly on astronomy; do you understand the force of gravity? The planets are suspended in some form of vacuum and it’s that very same emptiness that I want to bring to my pictures. The first time I saw Saturn through a telescope it seemed smaller than a peanut. Everything is relative, and everything depends on how you look at it: an atom is gigantic, the space between an electron and the centre of the nucleus you can only appreciate if you disengage from the common, accepted explanation of space. What does space represent for you? And time?»
«The means of transport (of escape), car or spaceship or whatever, has always been a way of recounting for Gianni Pezzani, a kind of reflection. In 1978 he began a project under the title Viaggio senza ritorno: photographs taken from inside a car of the landscape outside, in such a way that the chassis was evident, in fact acting as a frame for the rectangular photo.
Or even images in which the car was contextualised by the roadside with the door open, a lazy time, indeed a wholly timeless sensation. Shots that form part of the history of Italian photography (and not only) without question. A few years later Viaggio in Italia would be published, reflections on a new way to replace the contemporary landscape, in a way that necessitated distancing himself from the neo-realistic rhetoric in order to draw attention to a country whose appearance had undergone radical change (aesthetics/politics). And so to Luigi Ghirri, Mario Cresci, Mimmo Jodice, Roberto Salbitani, Chiaramonte, Gabriele Basilico: a different research, not homogoneous, a misty shroud intent on corrupting History.»
«I used to go around alone in the province in which I was born, a lowland, with silos for the grain, haylofts, beautiful old abbeys amongst ploughed fields, iron bridges, and small houses solitary in the tall grass. I took photographs from inside the car, like I was totally at one with the vehicle, as if it was my very shell, as if I was an insect with the capacity to collect images and return them.»
«It’s the ‘red string of fate’ which begins in the late seventies and comes right up to 2015. The whole shape of the journey has changed, if at first it was a physical one, a kind of repositioning along the road, now it’s celebral, imaginary, and the same form as the casing within which to escape, to head off at least for a short while. It’s an object which appears to be transformed into a beam of coloured light, losing its physicality, its wholeness, its matter. »
«Mine is always a journey towards perfection, a distancing from the world which impinges on life. In my photographs I want to create a gentle world in which to live: And I love the respite because I can address my dreams, I can mislead.»
«Perfection? How many perfections are there? One for every picture? One for every trip? One for every city?»
«Perfection for me is a spatial concept which I sensed while studying chemistry. When atoms all combine together they form crystals, and create perfect shapes such as they are. Human intelligence too should be honed towards perfection, thinking requires attention, requires training. But when I talk of perfection I’m not referring to an idea of beauty, that’s a different thing. A molecule of sugar, an atom of benzene, these are perfect: perfection is the search for a centre of gravity.»
The study of chemistry is a way to get into matter, into solid objects, into glass, metal, to discover an invisible space. The study of chemistry for Pezzani is a way to hide himself in an place inaccessible to any human eye not equipped with a microscope: his is a chemical journey, dreamlike, but as genuine as the things he thinks about.