An interesting and ironic photography exhibition on the contemporary landscape, curated by Claudio Marra, features 86 color works and presents an artist’s book with the same title: “Italia Revisited. Campionario per immagini” by Massimo Baldini. The exhibition opened in Bologna a few days ago in the Sala Cavazza in the Baraccano Complex and can be visited every day from 5pm to 8pm until 8 October 2023.
When we talk about photography on the theme of the Italian landscape, the thoughts and references are inevitably linked to the beautiful Viaggio in Italia project curated and photographed by Luigi Ghirri with other photographers in the mid-eighties. Ghirri presented a new and radical look at the transformation of our country in accelerated industrial growth and at the same time still very artisanal and rural in certain areas of the south. Now, some time after that x-ray of Ghirri, we have a new narrative vision in the highly mutating images, between the absurd, the kitsch and the sentimental, taken by Massimo Baldini. Baldini, who has dedicated himself to photography for several years, and has three exhibitions under his belt, Italianité (2017, Paris), A Tour not so Grand (Bologna, 2018), White Noise (Milan 2022), in Italia Revisited he set the objective in a research that has lasted for about ten years, revealing a vast horizon of exteriors of Italian cities, suburbs, highways and villages totally transformed or re-organized in their ancient and original identity.
As he himself shrewdly explains: “In this landscape now entirely marked by the pervasiveness of production, any separation between different areas of life has faded: theaters that resemble factories, homes that resemble cemeteries that resemble schools, churches that resemble restaurants that resemble to business centers that resemble bunkers. (…) It is a scenario smeared with all sorts of building superfetations and embellished with the extravagances of local starchitects”. The “contaminated” shape of some cities is easily recognizable in some photos such as Florence (where on a terrace a modern lampshade dialogues with Brunelleschi’s dome) or Naples or Ancona, but the identification of the place is not the purpose of this exhibition , which presents all untitled images only with numbers and reference year. Also relevant and entertaining is the photographer’s observation work in the composite variety of interior spaces: museum rooms, shops, bars, hotels, offices, staircases of buildings, private homes, kitchens, bathrooms and car dashboards.
For the curator Claudio Marra “good photography and therefore the good photographer, bring life back to us by placing us in a position to see what perhaps we had missed, what was in front of us, but which for some reason we had not seen. Not an interpretation, therefore, not a judgement, but a subtle work of estrangement which allows us to reconsider and review that reality without having previously distorted it”. And it’s really true. Another interesting thing about these photos on display, in addition to their incisiveness and dryness, is the almost absence of people in the various contexts photographed and therefore the result of a non-sociological and non-judgmental gaze, which avoids any caricature or temptation of a “sartorialist” derived from Instagram. But this does not take away the pleasure of looking and discovering with the photographer the artistic and pseudo-artistic inconsistencies of our contemporary spaces.
The artist book Italia Revisited. Campionario per immagini by Massimo Baldini, with 86 color photographs, 33×15 cm format, can be found on www.massimobaldini.net
Manuela Teatini, film maker and journalist, focuses on visual arts, in particular cinema, photography and contemporary art. She has written freelance for years with VOGUE, Uomo VOGUE, ELLE and other cinema, art and new trend magazines. She is the author and director of the docufilms “ART BACKSTAGE. La passione e lo sguardo” (2017),” MASSIMO MININI. Story of a Gallerist “(2019),” GIOVANNI BOLDINI. Il Piacere. Story of the Artist” (2021) awarded at the Terra di Siena International Film Festival 2021.