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Gianni Berengo Gardin. Like in a mirror

Gianni Berengo Gardin. Like in a mirror

Italian history is rich and complex. It is not made only of big events, but also of small daily stories. And when you think of Gianni Berengo Gardin you think of Italian history, its beauties and contradictions, the lights and shadows that have always accompanied it. LIKE IN A MIRROR. Photographs with author texts, inaugurated on 11 February 2020 at the FORMA Foundation for Photography in Milan, retraces the long journey made by the photographer in the year of his ninetieth birthday.

The exhibition, including twenty-four photographs and open until April 5, 2020, pays homage to Berengo Gardin in the city that adopted him since 1965 – the year he settled in Milan after living in Rome, Venice, Lugano and Paris – it does so by involving important personalities of culture through their written contribution. In fact, each image is accompanied by a small text that tells the feelings and sensations of each friend / colleague: the words of Mimmo Paladino, Renzo Piano, Lea Vergine, Ferdinando Scianna and many others mix with Berengo Gardin’s photographs recalling memories and universal emotions. The written narration travels hand in hand with the visual one in a dialogue that embraces not only the interlocutors, but also the audience itself: in observing the shots and reading the contributions, one identifies oneself in the small / large stories of everyday life and in the impressions that these stories aroused in every personality involved.

The corpus of selected works represents a short but effective synthesis of Berengo Gardin’s production: life in the city and in the countryside, the protests, the world of work, asylums, gypsies, up to the large ships that cross the Venice lagoon. They are images that retrace more than fifty years of life, insinuating themselves into the folds of every historical or fleeting event, collecting even uncomfortable testimonies without sparing anyone the respect and dignity of being told.

“I look for a different story every time, because I selfishly want to live every single story that I photograph” says Berengo Gardin, and in fact his eyes penetrate into any situation, between the slow flow of a train or a vaporetto – the famous image of the 1960 with the man taken from behind like in a Magritte painting – and the deafening silence of the rooms of a psychiatric institution: his gaze steals a piece of reality to give it to the community so that anyone can see what he has seen and live what he has lived.

“Photography does the miracle of forever fixing that fleeting moment” writes Renzo Piano referring to the 1993 photograph that portrays a worker on the construction site of the Kansai International Airport (Osaka) designed by the same architect: the same fortuitous circumstance brings Berengo Gardin to immortalize a group of children playing, two lovers kissing on a bench and two little brothers kissing next to their parents. Nobody knows these men, yet everyone can see something of his own, feeling that worker who goes to the factory, that couple embracing while walking or the woman falling asleep in the noises of the train: scenes of simple routine that the will of the photographer and the power of photography have turned into unforgettable icons – that’s why Sebastião Salgado defines Berengo Gardin “the man’s photographer”.

In the intimacy of the selected shots, each visitor establishes a direct relationship with what he observes, bringing to light old memories or renewing the vision of details never seen before: it is the same mechanism that governs the famous photographs of two couples inside two cars , the first realized in 1977 and the second in 1993, which, as Ferdinando Scianna states, make us reflect on the “essence of photography, on the impossibility of the identical repetition of an instant in the infinite multiplicity of life”.

Continuing in the wake of the great journalists such as Lewis Hine and Henri Cartier-Bresson, Berengo Gardin told through his own eyes what was happening around him without resorting to the use of filters or embellishments. The “Real photograph” stamp affixed behind each image, used as the title of the catalog drawn up for the occasion, not only seals its authenticity, but probably also testifies to its sincere spirit: “It is my ambition; not just a desire, but my goal: to leave a document of our age” he says. The testimonies that he leaves us, if on the one hand are extremely genuine and truthful, on the other hand are deeply sweet and touching. Indeed, it is thanks to their being spontaneous if today we still feel them ours.

Info:

Gianni Berengo Gardin, COME IN UNO SPECCHIO. Fotografie con testi d’autore (LIKE IN A MIRROR. Photographs with author texts)
11 February – 5 April 2020
Fondazione FORMA per la Fotografia
via Meravigli 5, Milano
Info@Formafoto.It
www.formafoto.it

Gianni Berengo Gardin, Oriolo Romano, Lazio, 1965, ©Gianni Berengo Gardin-Courtesy Fondazione FormaGianni Berengo Gardin, Oriolo Romano, Lazio, 1965, ©Gianni Berengo Gardin-Courtesy Fondazione Forma

Gianni Berengo Gardin, Bacino San Marco, visto da via Garibaldi. Venezia, 2013-2015, ©Gianni Berengo Gardin-Courtesy Fondazione FormaGianni Berengo Gardin, Bacino San Marco, visto da via Garibaldi. Venezia, 2013-2015, ©Gianni Berengo Gardin-Courtesy Fondazione Forma

Gianni Berengo Gardin, Istituto psichiatrico. Parma, 1968, ©Gianni Berengo Gardin-Courtesy Fondazione Forma

Gianni Berengo Gardin, Istituto psichiatrico. Parma, 1968, ©Gianni Berengo Gardin-Courtesy Fondazione Forma


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