The birth of a new photo project

It’s always nice when a new photo project finds me and not vice versa. It happens like magic, as if it were written in our destiny.
It all starts with some subtle signal, coincidences, radio interferences. At first I don’t even notice it, but then, slowly, the brain tunes to the right frequency and finally I realize. From that moment on, the conscious quest begins, a research that leads to a new discovery, to a new adventure.

Summer 2014

Summer 2014

Summer 2014

Another summer is going to end. In the last period I switched almost completely to monochrome photography. Maybe I’m tired of the tawdry and distracting colors, or I’m just more prone to focus on the “form” rather than than on the “substance”. I really don’t know the reason why, but it’s a fact that I started seeing things in black & white.
Let’s see what will come…

New exhibition for “White Walls”

A new exhibition for my project White Walls is on the way:

Exhibition White Walls - SPAZIO Corsivo"

SPAZIO Corsivo | Schliemannstr. 29 | 10437 Berlin

You’ll find more infos about this work by clicking here. Visits and feedbacks are really welcome!
 

New exhibition for “White Walls”

Photo: WW #02 - © Marco Ristuccia

Photo: WW #02 – © Marco Ristuccia

Dear friends,

I’m happy to inform you about a new exhibition for “White Walls”, a photo project that I made in Berlin, where I live. More about this work by clicking here.

Here below you’ll find the press release.

 ***

“LOST SPACE”EXHIBITION PROJECT
installation | photography | objects | video | interactive media

Artists: Penelope Vlassopoulou, Alessandra Senso, Marco Ristuccia, Julia Patey, Margarita Novikova, Stephanie Neumann, Carolin Kastner, Bram Braam, Rebecca Agnes.

concept / curating by Susanne Lek

Opening: March 27 7pm -11pm
Opening times: Friday / Saturday / Sunday 3pm – 7pm
Location: Joao Cocteau Kienitzer Strasse 98, Berlin – Neukölln

Exhibition LOST SPACE in Berlin

Most cities have an amazing amount of vacant, unused land in its downtown core. Over the past few years, radically changing economic, industrial and employment patterns have further exacerbated the problem of these lost spaces. This is especially true along highways, rail road lines and waterfronts, where major gaps disrupt the overall continuity of the city form. However, lost spaces, although underused and deteriorating, provide exceptional opportunities to reshape an urban center and counteracts and suburbanization and gentrification.

While the residential areas in the former East of Berlin experience massive urban upgrading, leading to gentrification, the once glamorous West is filled with deserted areas and empty buildings. It seems to be ‘done’ and overcrowded with tourists. This contrast between lost spaces on the one hand, and highly gentrified districts on the other, can be confusing for outsiders, but also for Berliners themselves. This group show reflects on these contradictions from different artistic viewpoints.

How do outsiders experience the loaded history of Berlin? How can someone keep up with a city that is changing so fast? How can artists help by turning lost, dystopic spaces into utopian, creative sights? These and more questions will be raised and reflected on in this exhibition.

Susanne Lek is doing her masters in Contemporary and Modern Art History at University Utrecht, The Netherlands. She is currently finishing her thesis about the subject of dystopia in the work of contemporary Dutch artists. During her Erasmus grant in Berlin she works at arttransponder within the frame of an internship.

arttransponder || platform for art dialog context & networking
our focus is on interdisciplinary, site specific, participatory and temporary art practices which integrate the complexity of production, presentation and reception. We locate our projects within current discourses and theory. Intention is, to broaden definitions and parameters of art production and its operating system and challenge common modes of practice and presentation. Therefore we maintain an active exchange with international artists, initiatives, scientists and theoreticians. Find out more about arttransponder.

One, No One and One Hundred Thousand

UNC #01 - © Marco RistucciaPhoto: UNC #01 – © Marco Ristuccia

Today I would like to present to you a project that I realized in 2011 along the Po Valley, close to Milan (Italy). Its name and the concept itself came to my mind from the ideas inside the book “One, No One and One Hundred Thousand”, a masterpiece of the Sicilian writer Luigi Pirandello. I elaborated those ideas and created a personal interpretation that stands behind this photo project.

PROJECT STATEMENT

A research on the essence of life which is inspired by the organism “Tree”, observed both as a single and as a representative of an entire species. The visual fusion of individuals, through superimposition, reinforces the universal and fades out the particular, leading us to a higher level of thought. The eternal value of mortal life lies in repetition of individual’s uniqueness, which let alone would have no hope. We are all “one, no one and one hundred thousand”.

The project was realized along the Po river valley, in northern Italy. Each final print is composed by tens of single shots. I have deliberately chosen the soft light and pastel colors, typical of those places in cloudy days, to give a rather misty and graphical aesthetic to the final work. Finally, the canvas print contributes in underlining the texture and the atmosphere of the image.

 

UNC #02 - © Marco RistucciaPhoto: UNC #02 – © Marco Ristuccia 

 

UNC #03 - © Marco RistucciaPhoto: UNC #03 – © Marco Ristuccia

 

UNC #04 - © Marco RistucciaPhoto: UNC #04 – © Marco Ristuccia

 

Photo: UNC #05 - © Marco RistucciaPhoto: UNC #05 – © Marco Ristuccia

 

UNC #06 - © Marco RistucciaPhoto: UNC #06 – © Marco Ristuccia

 

UNC #07 - © Marco RistucciaPhoto: UNC #07 – © Marco Ristuccia

 

UNC #08 - © Marco RistucciaPhoto: UNC #08 – © Marco Ristuccia

 

UNC #09 - © Marco RistucciaPhoto: UNC #09 – © Marco Ristuccia

 

UNC #10 - © Marco RistucciaPhoto: UNC #10 – © Marco Ristuccia

The photos of this project are printed on canvas and mounted stretched over a wooden frame. They are available for purchase in a limited edition of 5 + II. If you’re interested in buying some, you can contact me or check the availability and order on-line by clicking here.

 

New self portrait: Lunardream

Lunardream

This picture slept in my mind for the last two years, so I’m really happy now because I finally made it!

Every time I looked at myself in the mirror, in fact, my bald head reminded me of the moon’s surface. And the image which immediately followed was always the one of the Apollo 11‘s mission taking place on it, with the LEM module, the American astronauts, the flag and all the other memories of this extraordinary event. Put in a psychological way, I really needed to do this photo to free my mind from such an obsession!

So I’ve made a research among the NASA’s public websites in order to find some good hi-res photos, and eventually discovered an incredible archive, created by the enthusiast Kipp Teague in February 1999, containing a lot of digitized images taken from the original film rolls. Those exposed by Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong during the 1969’s mission by means of a customized version of the famous Hasselblad 500 EL camera called EDC (Electric Data Camera).

For the curious, here is the link of this remarkable archive. If you are also interested in the “lunar” versions of the Hasselblad cameras, here‘s a good starting point.

And that’s it! I took a studio portrait of myself, grabbed a couple of pictures from the online archive and put all the stuff together. The lighting scheme for my portrait must be a rather harsh single-light one, just like it is in our solar system. I ended up with a compromise by choosing the so called “rembrandt-scheme” because I wanted to keep both my eyes visible. Then I cropped the frame just under my nose to get a square final image and a strong focus on the Apollo 11‘s scene of my “lunardream”. Keeping my whole face in the frame would have been too much distracting.
The astronaut you see is Buzz Aldrin, photographed by Neil Armstrong while he was setting up some instruments for the mission’s planned experiments.

This work has made me think of a complete series of self portraits photographed this way. I’ll work on this and post any updates here and on my portfolio page.

White Walls

Photo: WW #05 – © Marco Ristuccia

Photo: WW #05 – © Marco Ristuccia

This project focuses on the concept of “vacancy” as an increasingly rare subject to find in our chaotic contemporary cities. Something that still has the power to make us feel uncomfortable, with the urge to fill it with things, colors and “signs”. Indeed our minds are no longer accustomed to the absence of messages. And even the vacuum itself, like a black hole, yearns to be filled in by attracting everything in its range with some sort of magnetic energy.

Here in Berlin I feel this kind of “vacancy” each time I find myself in one of its many “non-places”. Forgotten empty spaces overcome by dull blind buildings whose white walls resemble giant sheets waiting to be filled in, to become part of the “whole”. Those surfaces seem to glow in the bright sunlight like enchanting alien monoliths, making us loose the sense of meanings.

For this project I decided to make use of the analog pinhole photography on large format film. I did this for a series of reasons, the most important ones being the need to take my time with those places and the desire to make the emulsion itself “breathe” the atmosphere through the direct contact with the outside air. Moreover, the inherent softness and strong vignetting of the pinhole photography contribute to enhancing the magnetic glowing light I described above.

The project is still ongoing; here you’ll find the first shots of the series.

Photo: WW #01 – © Marco Ristuccia

Photo: WW #01 – © Marco Ristuccia

Photo: WW #02 – © Marco Ristuccia

Photo: WW #02 – © Marco Ristuccia

Photo: WW #03 – © Marco Ristuccia

Photo: WW #03 – © Marco Ristuccia

Photo: WW #04 – © Marco Ristuccia

Photo: WW #04 – © Marco Ristuccia

Photo: WW #06 – © Marco Ristuccia

Photo: WW #06 – © Marco Ristuccia

Photo: WW #07 – © Marco Ristuccia

Photo: WW #07 – © Marco Ristuccia

Photo: WW #08 – © Marco Ristuccia

Photo: WW #08 – © Marco Ristuccia

Photo: WW #09 – © Marco Ristuccia

Photo: WW #09 – © Marco Ristuccia

Photo: WW #010 – © Marco Ristuccia

Photo: WW #010 – © Marco Ristuccia

The photos of this project are printed on gallery baryta pater, matted and framed. They are available for purchase in limited editions. If you’re interested in buying some, you can contact me or check the availability and order on-line by clicking here.
 

The Sacred and the Profane

The Sacred and the Profane 01

With this article I’d like to let to you know something about Sicily (Italy), my land of birth. And I will do this by presenting one of my preferred projects, The Sacred and the Profane, shot in 2010 in Palermo, the capital city of this sunny island. Even though I was there only for a couple of weeks (I lived on the opposite side of Sicily) I still remember those times as a wonderful and colorful dream. There would be much to say about Sicily, its beautiful sea, its great landscapes and its friendly people, but I prefer to let images speak for themselves by showing part of this tale.

Project’s statement

Palermo (Sicily), July 2010, time of the religious festival dedicated to the patron saint of the city: Santa Rosalia (“u fistinu”). A careful tour around the most significant neighborhoods reveals the great faith and the strong devotion of the people towards the patron saint. Improvised altars of saints, candles, flowers appear everywhere, in the most unlikely places, and silently live together with the daily events of the Palermitans, blending within and disappearing in the background of this wonderful theater of life, full of loud sounds, smells and tastes that arouse strong emotions.

As a Sicilian, I know myself how faith conditions any aspect of our lives; “The Sacred and the Profane”, in fact, tries to communicate, through the metaphor of images, how the historical roots and traditions are so far in time that today we can see a curious and sometime grotesque mix of worship objects and symbols with everyday life.

The Sacred and the Profane 06

The Sacred and the Profane 12

The Sacred and the Profane 03

The Sacred and the Profane 05

The Sacred and the Profane 04

The Sacred and the Profane 11

The Sacred and the Profane 02

The Sacred and the Profane 10

The Sacred and the Profane 09

The Sacred and the Profane 07

The Sacred and the Profane 08

All photos and texts are copyrighted by Marco Ristuccia. All rights reserved.

iPhone photography and Photojournalism

Flohmarkt 01

Photo: Flohmarkt am Mauerpark – Berlin – IPhone-Hipstamatic photography
© Marco Ristuccia

In the last days there have been many debates about the destiny of Photojournalism and the new trend of mobile photography. I think there’s a bit of confusion about what’s happening, both on the editorial and on the photographer’s side, and I want to add my two cents.

Certainly the case of the Chicago Sun-Times, one of the largest US newspapers, contributed to rock the boat. In late May its management took the odd decision to close the photographic department composed of 28 full-time employed professionals. The aim was cutting costs by hiring on-demand freelancers and training journalists to shoot photos with their own iPhone. News like this contribute to increasing the level of chaos and fear in the photography market. All professionals today, photojournalists at the forefront, are complaining about the great spread of amateur photography which is conspicuously crossing the boundaries between the private and the commercial field.

Some of the common explanations about what’s going on sound as follows:

  • The crisis of the editorial sector: editors have increasingly lower margins and budgets. Readers are moving from paper to Web where information is more widespread and cheap;
  • Technological evolution: today’s cameras and softwares make it possible for everyone to obtain a perfect image in terms of “information” (exposure, colors, etc…);
  • The power of large numbers: unlike photographers people are everywhere and they’re happy to see their pictures published without even asking money for this. They can “cover” whatever happens around the world. That greatly increases the market’s offering and competition thereby lowering the value of each single photo;
Flohmarkt 02

Photo: Flohmarkt am Mauerpark – Berlin – IPhone-Hipstamatic photography
© Marco Ristuccia

These are some of the reasons why newspapers start thinking they don’t need a specialized photographic staff anymore. They are breaking the rules, the implicit agreement that the two worlds, the professional and the amateur, should be kept separated. But we must ask ourselves why they are doing so, why professional photojournalism doesn’t pay anymore.

And then iPhone photography and softwares like Instagram and Hipstamatic come into play. They even add new advantages: portability and instant shareability being the first ones. But in my opinion the key aspect is aesthetics. By using app’s photo filters everyone is now able to add pro-quality post-production effects to his photos in a easy, cheap and fast way. That’s a great step forward.

In an era in which we have access to more information than our brains can hold we’re definitely becoming more superficial. It’s a survival need, we read less and see more pictures because they have greater capacity for synthesis. The way we use social networks like Facebook and Twitter gives a good idea of how we access information today. But giving the large number of images we are fed daily, in order to capture our “fast and superficial” glance a photo must have a stunning aesthetics. And maybe that’s the explanation of why today lots of photo-reportages tend to be more over-post-processed than complete in terms of originality, focus and narrative profundity. This might be the reason why amateur photography is increasingly competing with the professional one. Superficial aesthetics is winning against depth of information.

Most people today have neither time nor concentration to read a full three-pages story. Just a bunch of appealing photos with a short caption is enough for almost everybody. And since in contemporary societies knowledge is perceived as a universal right, it should also cost little or nothing.

Flohmarkt 03

Photo: Flohmarkt am Mauerpark – Berlin – IPhone-Hipstamatic photography
© Marco Ristuccia

Too many photographers are accusing the digital era as the cause of the death of a profession. But an iPhone, like any digital camera, is only a means and not a meaning, and we can’t look at the finger instead of what it’s pointing to. As history teaches, in order to survive we must evolve and adapt to the new means, find new languages and fresh ways. There are great photo reporters today who start working with iPhone photography and the difference between their works and amateur pictures is still clearly visible.

On the other side, it’s up to the editorial staff to investigate on modern, fast and cheap communication formats without sacrificing the high quality pro-photographers and journalists can guarantee. Photo editors must have the competence and courage to filter out all the stuff consisting only of aesthetics (whether dramatic or delicate) and having no real interesting content. Aside from making money, image professionals should also play an educational role, and in the long run everyone will benefit from and reward quality if conveyed in the right way.

Additional resources:

  • Michael Christopher Brown is a photojournalist who uses a phone camera to capture his reportages. Brown has “over a six-month period in 2011, documented the face of battle in Libya using a camera phone, challenging the standard script for war reportage”. He recently received the nomination from Magnum Photos and in a couple of years will be able to apply for full membership.