NAHR RESIDENCY / VAL TALEGGIO – ITALY. 2017
If Rene Magritte in his seminal work La Trahison des Imagenes (The Treachery of Images) makes us aware of the gap between images and objects. The Gap is Narrow project tries to bridge this gap through a bio-inspired process that results in a perfect symbiosis between the natural constituents of the photography subjects and the actual photographs. The resulting photographs go beyond representation and metaphor, merging culture and nature. To this end, the darkroom process is polluted with the very essence of the photographed subjects or with those materials one has had contact with daily. In this process, the images are revealed through chance, noise, and non-programmed events.
Decreasing numbers of locals in the Taleggio Valley are interested in managing traditional upland hill farms due to the isolation, the harsh nature of the work, and the habitat. There are a few incredibly dedicated young people, like Fiorella and Francesco, and there has been Renato Pesenti Campagnoni, one of the few valley inhabitants who have been sustaining an economy based on high altitude bovine pastoralism in sync with nature, its cycles and processes for many decades. Renato owns a traditional barn, or Baita, a large compartment of pasture delimited by a temporary electric fence, where he has been keeping cattle and sheep for meat, milk, and cheese making. For decades Renato tended his animals daily, milked the cows by hand, provided husbandry care, and with salt, and water, he transformed milk into cheese.
In the belief that what turns access into learning is time and patience, during my time at NAHR, I established a direct and close contact with Renato with whom I interacted constantly, thus allowing me to photograph him from an informed point of view. As a result, I captured him apparently unaware of the camera’s presence with a sincere and intimate result. I took samples from a selection of the bio-materials Renato interacted with within his daily routine – stream water, the valley’s soil, stones, cheese bacteria, milk, wine, and grappa. These materials were added to the chemicals present in the darkroom developmental process, resulting in photographs where the gap between image and object, representation and reality, culture and nature is narrowed. The result is photographs I had not consciously expected. They are at once serial and singular, have a mechanical look, but are done manually, each of them unique and unreplicable.
In 2021, Nature, Art & Habitat Residency – NAHR, published a book with both, the images resulting from the bio-inspired analog process, and the original images taken for this research.
104 pages, 69 black and white plates. 24 x 20 cm. hardcover. ISBN 978-88-946514-0-9.
A tribute, as critical as it is empathic, to the simple, the authentic, and the local. It is a subjective work, based much more on metaphor and evocation than on manifestos or affirmations. This series of images, somehow, connect us with our immediate past, opening, by contrast with our present, a space to reflect on and question our current world.
The reality is thus suggested, undeclared, giving the audience the possibility to imagine. These images must be interpreted both by what is seen in them and by what is suggested by them.
The resulting photographs only reflect fragments, and they sometimes cause visual awkwardness. Those who do not know the Taleggio Valley can imagine it in a more open and free manner, while those familiar with the area see their spaces in perhaps unexpected ways.