Frieze Zona Maco

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Dark Cities
(Sergio Signorini, no.72 Black - the attraction of law)

Alleys, roads, buildings, stations, parks, churches surrounded by dark golden night; a dreamlike journey, like a long urban dream.

Sergio Signorini: «Your images principally explore that which surrounds photographic and environmental extremes: light (at the limits of over-exposure: Evanescenza) / dark (at the limits of black: Dark Cities); animated (Gente di Capocotta) / unanimated (American dream); day (Uncommon Ostia) / night (500 volte Roma); overbuilding (Lungo il mare) / green space (Verde contemporaneo). The last example however is only apparently a contrast because, in this case, the extremes touch, they coincide: ‘Verde contemporaneo’ (‘Contemporary green’) only pretends to mitigate heavy duty overbuilding. Between the extremes: there is nothingness for you?»
Daniele Cametti Aspri: «Between the extremes lies boredom; within the extremes is life. I love to capture the extreme, unordinary aspect of that which surrounds me. My last exhibition – at the Spazio Tadini in Milan (Italy), last October/November – was entitled EXTRA-ORDINARIO A KMØ. My photographic story began with an extreme affection for the values and the situations suffered by my family. My affection for ‘things’, instead, is manifested with my mania of collecting objects and memories: it is hard for me to let go. So here I am: a big baby who likes to nurture his childish side, to discover with innocent eyes all that surrounds him. I love the known and I find peace in habits: the majority of my work – except for that developed in Paris and Milan – is created within a radius of 5/6 km. Part of my intent is therefore the appreciation of that which surrounds us and is part of us: I don’t escape in brusque digressions, in hard to realise dreams; I seek satisfaction and happiness in that which is present, even if society insists on proposing consumerist, unattainable models which have undermined our most profound and meaningful values.»

«“Seek the unusual within the ordinary”: is that your way?»
«Yes, I look for the unusual within the common: I appreciate ordinary  places and things, but I look at them from a different point of view: I like photographers who do so – Stephen Shore, William Egglestone, Robert Adams – who know how to derive poetry from a sandwich, a tricycle, a car park, from which the immensity of life explodes.»

«In Dark Cities you follow a “vision which is far removed from the usual, in which humanity is all but absent” and “one perceives the silence, the solitude of a man immersed in the dark, who keeps his distance from society and watches it evolve from the sidelines, hidden”. How do you reconcile your being isolated with your work in communication?»
«A photographer is often solitary; he follows that which enchants him. I photograph for myself, alone: it is almost a therapeutic process; but I also like to share the results in order to communicate myself, an alternative to writing a book, a biography. In the images I see much of myself, a solitary man who in some respects does not feel at place in today’s society due to the excessive contradictions. The message I try to transmit, however, gains responses and consent from people: I am happy, I like to spread the message of “Zero mileage lifestyle”, I think people need this.»

«Your words: “when we enter a dark place from the light we initially experience a kind of disorientation: our eyes struggle... to get used to the dark. As the minutes pass, slowly, thanks to the residual light that filters from under a door or from a distant lamp, a different reality begins to emerge. The faint light rests on surrounding objects creating a play of achromatic forms and surfaces with shades of dark grey, more or less intense, which blend to black”. Is it the taking outside of this “vision which crosses the boundary of the real to directly reach the soul” which lead to the Dark Cities series?»

«Yes, it happened more or less by chance. At the time I was following a darkroom course: I was fascinated by the intimacy and warmth that this gave me, and even more so by the emerging of the photograph during the printing process. As often happens, the first photograph of the series came about from a kind of mistake: I had seen a work, at Paris Photo, which I liked very much, completely dark: a room with a ray of light which touched the floor and a door, apparently nothing, totally minimal. I was fascinated by the mood this created. When I went outside – overwhelmed by hundreds of works of art, my retina completely burnt – from the stairs of the Grand Palais I looked at the Petit Palais in front: the light from the Eiffel Tower was shining onto an overhanging cloud, an incredible vision: I underexposed to the limits and the result was an amazing, magical image. Only later did I begin to look into the effect of light in blackness: continuous experiments, because there are no rules which can guarantee how the image will come out, you can only see after shooting. At night there is never total darkness: the atmosphere shown in the photographs is not real, realistic, but it is looked for, desired. I try, as I shoot, to understand how the light will describe monuments and forms, how it will plastically model the surfaces it illuminates and strikes. So everything is surrounded by darkness, by black: only when it is touched by light does it emerge: a result which, for me, is very poetic. And an installation in a totally dark environment, with the photographs visible by candle-light or back-lit, celebrates the process of darkroom development: one can make out details with the same emotion as if one were developing a photograph.»
«Again with Dark Cities you enter “into the descriptive universe of light, or rather, in this case its almost complete absence, both from the point of view of the subject photographed and its reproduction, in a delicate play of shadow and darkness”. What do you find in the black of night? From a psychological and soulful point of view I mean.»
«I find peace and silence in black, and in the night I manage, in some way – moving through places – to isolate the vibrations that come, to receive them, to be struck, overwhelmed: it is wonderful to explore the city at night, in the absence of people. I always work without a tripod, free from physical conditioning, I expose the camera to a contemplative approach, looking – I shoot freehandedly! – for inner balance: it is a kind of Zen shot. I prefer to find myself in balance for my pictures – perhaps I am a little compulsive – I like to be symmetrical and ordered, perhaps to find order in life.»

«Without wanting to invade your privacy or hurt your soul, I am struck and moved by what your stark autobiography highlights: “I approached photography with the birth of my son Leonardo”. And then, a little further on: “It was photography which saved me from the solitude of the separation from my son. It was the only way to always have him with me. Every photo I take is a reminder of my heart and my heart is the best camera I have ever had.”»
«It’s true: Photographs are taken with the heart. It was therapeutic for me to begin: I was going through a very difficult period and it helped me to get over it. Photography has taught me a different way to see things: it is a process which stimulates and develops one’s sensibility.»