Tag Archives: photography

The book, the photo and the stork

Photos move us. They enable us to travel virtually to wherever the scene is captured. They also move us by provoking emotions unleashed by the picture. Travel photography illustrates this double power especially clearly as Giorgia Alù argues in her just-published Journeys Exposed: Women’s Writing, Photography and Mobility (Routledge, 2018). The writers and photographers analysed (Melania Mazzucco, Ornela Vorpsi, Monika Bulaj, Carla Cerati, Elena Gianini Belotti and Anna Maria Riccardi) are variously related to Italy: Italians, Italophones, migrants or expatriates to Italy, or through hyphenated adjectives of nationality, as Italian-American or Italian-Australian. The book begins with an anecdote recounted by Karen Blixen. During a stormy night a man has to go out to fix a leakage in his pond’s dam. He stumbles around, falls over, and takes wrong paths but next morning he sees that the tracks his boots have left in the mud trace the outline of a stork. The stork provides an unsuspected unity for his apparently random movements but one which only becomes visible a posteriori and from a distance. Such traces expose the form of movements, underlying or unintended, in lives, texts and photographs but, like photographs, the form requires the technical processes of exposure to be seen.

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Award of the Jo-Anne Duggan Prize 2017

ACIS  is very pleased to announce that the Jo-Anne Duggan Prize 2017 has been awarded to Monique Webber (University of Melbourne) for her essay ‘”In Search of Universal Icons”: Interrogating the Superstar Phenomenon of Early Modern Art through the Photography of Jo-Anne Duggan’. It shows how Jo-Anne Duggan’s photographs – notably those in her exhibitions Before the Museum (2000-2002), Impossible Gaze (2002-2005), and Wondrous Possessions (2010) – explore the impact of the passage of time on the works of forgotten masters and the way we now reflect on them. The essay reveals how Jo-Anne’s approach to Renaissance artworks uncovers the complex marks of superstar culture, the dominant form of our contemporary engagement with art and often regarded as a distinctive symptom of the modern age.  We are also very pleased to give the Highly Commended award to Laelie Greenwood (Monash University) for her essay ‘Private Memory, Public Spaces: An Examination of Memory and Monument within Italian Immigrant Experience in Carlton’.  She analyses the architecture of Malbourne’s Carlton area, using Jo-Anne Duggan’s writings to explore the ways in which Italian-Australians developed a distinctive architectural style in their house facades and renovations to convey their enduring links to the country they had left.

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Terra nostra

terra_nostra_cover_web_1024x1024In Terra Nostra the Palermo-born photographer Mimi Mollica explores the effects of the mafia on Sicily, documenting the damage it has inflicted on the physical and social landscape of the island and painting a dark picture of extortion, corruption and claustrophobia. The view is bleak, seedy and haunting, the violence itself mostly off-stage but its consequences, direct and indirect, all too visible. Mollica’s photo-essay is introduced by one of the island’s most active anti-mafia magistrates, Roberto Scarpinato.


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‘Almost spectral in their otherness’

410martin_bogren_italia_special_edition_with_printThat’s a reviewer’s comment on the way the people captured in Martin Bogren’s recent Italia (Max Ström 2016) look.  The Swedish photographer spent three years in Naples, Palermo, Bologna and Turin to produce a black-and-white portrayal of streets and subjects which seem suspended in time. ‘Been wandering around for days now. Street after street. With a heavy heart and loneliness as a constant companion. I’ve forgotten why I’m here and what I’m doing. A camera clutched in my hand, increasingly fearful, with a cowardly posture’.  You can see the striking results of this apparently forlorn enterprise here.


Stillness in motion: Italy, photography, modernity

Sally Hill   Victoria University of Wellington


site specific_ROMA 04 © OLIVO BARBIERI

Contemplating the first daguerreotypes of “a motionless, lunar Italy, suspended over bottomless pasts,” the social historian Giulio Bollati wondered how photography could fulfill its modernizing vocation in such a timeless and pastoral scene. What happens when photography encounters this “deviant and peculiar” historical environment? Would such “backwardness” alter or impair photography’s meanings and its expression of industrial Europe? What does Italian cultural history look like studied through the lens of photographic technology? How does the Italian context speak to photographic theory in general?

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Riflessi di immagini: Magico 2014

Edda Orlandi   Università degli Studi di Milano

Le lettrici e i lettori affezionati ricorderanno che già lo scorso anno si parlò di Magico e di San Felice sul Panaro in questo blog. L’edizione di quest’anno si è svolta la scorsa domenica 23 marzo e io c’ero per raccontarvela, accompagnata anche da un volenteroso fotografo e una gioiosa assistente fotografa che hanno immortalato per noi gli straordinari personaggi arrivati dalla Parigi e dalla Provenza fine ottocentesche a San Felice, per portarne le strade e le piazzette dentro dei quadri impressionisti.Locandina orizzontale 400px

Su di loro lascio parlare i “riflessi di immagini” e le didascalie che trovate qui sotto. Quello che non c’è nelle fotografie sono invece gli ottimi gnocchi fritti e frittelle salate serviti dall’efficientissimo gruppo scout locale (mai ristoro di fiera fu meglio organizzato), le gentili signore del banchetto con le cartoline e l’annullo postale, le simpaticissime bariste del caffè dietro la Rocca, i negozietti tenacemente mandati avanti nei container post-terremoto, i fiori di carta color lavanda a decorare il grazioso paesuzzo, la drogheria-latteria di via Mazzini, la nuvola di pioggia arrivata a mezzora dall’inizio della manifestazione a rovinar quasi la festa (ma poi l’è scappata subito, veh!). Insomma, come non accorrere ancora più numerosi il prossimo anno?

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Diario di un sogno: in Emilia after the earthquake of May 2012

A year ago, in late May, a severe earthquake struck northern Italy, with its epicentre in Emilia. The small community of San Felice sul Panaro (MO) was badly hit with 3 deaths and many buildings damaged or destroyed, including the magnificent Rocca Estense.

La Rocca Estense April 2012

La Rocca Estense April 2012

La Rocca Estense June 2012

La Rocca Estense June 2012

San Felice is perhaps best known for the annual event known as Magico, invented for the community a decade ago by a photographer from Este, Mario Lasalandra, who, inspired by the dream-like paintings of Chagall, has had a particular interest in the ways in which the semblance of silence and immobility associated with the world of the peasantry can unleash the imagining of surreal figures and places beyond time.

Each year the event brings together the inhabitants as actors to perform a different theme, the squares and streets serving as the stage and made magical by the drifting (artificial) clouds with accompanying soundscape. Since 2003 the themes have included ‘Giorno di Nozze’, ‘Santi e Miracoli’, ‘Guerra e Pace’, and ‘Il Circo’ as well as a homage to Federico Fellini. The marvellous faces, costumes and gestures are captured by photographers attracted from all parts of Italy to produce a fabulous record of a unique event. After the earthquake struck, it was felt that perhaps the tradition should be suspended. But the local community was insistent that it should continue, under the title Diario di un sogno, to be staged on Sunday 26 May, almost exactly one year after the first wave of destruction – a memorial dedicated to the future.


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