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begnoni_per_sito.jpg In/Outside external and internal photographic incursions 
videoprojection with images by Renato Begnoni, Patrizia Di Siro, Marco Natale, Marco Saroldi 
by care of Ferruccio Giromini, Stella Lombardo e Cristina Piccardo 
presentation by Ferruccio Giromini 
Musei di Nervi, Raccolte Frugone, Villa Grimaldi Fassio, Via Capolungo 9, Genova Nervi
7 November 2009/10 January 2010

 Renato Begnoni

 Patrizia Di Siro

 Marco Natale

 Marco Saroldi 




 It may seem banal to point out once again that painting and photography are nothing other than desired effects of exercising the gaze – effects desired so intensely that we wish to free them from the continuous and unnoticed flow of that natural activity and to fix them for ever, or at least for a long time, so that we can relive them again on our own and share them with the gaze of others. It is rather like moving from unconsciousness to consciousness; or, one might also say, from nature to culture. Or even, to use anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss’s fitting expression, from raw to cooked; the idea being that we normally see raw, but the choices of the artistic gaze make us see (or re-see) cooked images – cooked by those who delight in satisfying people’s innate aesthetic appetites. What is interesting then is to “taste” the perception of space through the eyes of others, eyes that are good at cooking what they see.

Yes, because the perception of space (no less than that of time) is individual, too. This applies to both open and closed spaces – and, at times, to spaces that are open as if they were closed and those that are closed as if they were open. Fortunately, in the kitchen of the eye – which also means in the kitchen of the mind – a wide range of recipes is possible.

As we continue our attempt to look for parallels between traditional genres in painting and possible genres in photography, this is the point we had to reach sooner or later. Following on from broad natural landscapes and close-up human portraits, this could be the right moment to look at confined spaces on the sometimes blurred borderline where nature and culture, outside and inside, face each other, even going so far as to merge and intermingle. Looking around does not only mean registering what we see, but rather reinventing, transfiguring, redesigning and even (it happens) calmly betraying. Betraying out of love, in order to rediscover a fresh, previously hidden taste that is potential but as yet unexpressed. Visual haute cuisine, we might say, to round off this rather witty metaphor.

We were talking about examples. For this occasion we have chosen from among the various possible examples four Italian photographers of varying geographical origin and social background. Together they form a whole, with each one contributing his or her personal voice in a way that complements the others. And each of their “outsides” and “insides” offer us various surprises.

First off, Marco Saroldi (Turin 1957), a professional (and passionate) photographer who in his travels around the world to both Italian and more distant cities seems to be particularly drawn by shadows. Often these are deep shadows – dense, black and dark – that disrupt and expand diagonal lines, following some idea of regularity. On finding and registering them, Saroldi addresses these shadows with elegant ardour, almost transforming them into outlined cracks that open towards other immense dimensions. He smashes open space; no longer contained in its accustomed three-dimensions (albeit constrained and simulated within the two dimensions of the print or the screen), it turns inside out and expands into a fourth dimension, not time in this case but some further unexpected, mysterious space, the severe custodian of unexpressed promises. So what we see in Saroldi’s images does not stop on the surface but heralds something beyond.

Marco Natale’s (Naples1975) vision is immediately more “artistic”, if we can use the term. His suspended “peripheries of the soul” (the expression is his) are views of the city that appear nocturnal even when they have been taken during the daytime. Stupefied onlookers enveloped in dark fog, we give in to slight dizziness. The realm of surrounding space slips from our hands and dissolves in our eyes. The stone signs of the city become the smoke dreams of civilisation. In Natale’s own words: “There are streets that we cross, there are streets which cross us. There are crossroads which we cross, there are intersections which cut through us from our bellies to our backs”. It is precisely the outside which enters into us (which just goes to show…). And he adds, in lyrical confirmation: “We are the side road, even just for a moment or for barely a kilometre, a symbiotic itinerary between asphalt that has been fixed in time and the hairpin loops of the intestine”.

The internationally celebrated Renato Begnoni (Villafranca di Verona 1956) adopts a different poetic register, rigorously experimenting with photographic language and elegising pure emotions. In his silent images – which strangely enough he always calls “large”, irrespective of their actual size – the void swells with content. The few external scenes are frontal, almost flat, lacking any depth. Conversely, his triumphal internals, boxes pervaded by light that resembles a Holy Spirit walking on tiptoe, contain diaphanous figures, presences that, though apparently incongruous, are undoubtedly bearers of meaning, even of feelings; they slowly dilate their absences until we feel the different impalpable densities of the air, thus releasing for us their musty smells. Suspension beyond time and space becomes an invincible expansion of space and time. This is where the well-thought-out dialectical game between exterior and interior is played out. And an almost metaphysical experience suggests and induces new, almost physical sensations.

One possible way of concluding our circular journey between outside and inside is suggested by Patrizia Di Siro (Milan 1953), whose delicately feminine gaze, after manoeuvres in search of new spatiality, offers a considered return to intimacy. Her domestic spaces, observed from a distance but still with affection, emerge from a darkness that for once is not alien, or indecipherable, or threatening – in short, not really obscure – because it is familiar and cosy. And yet the close-up gaze produces a bewildering perspective. And yet the grainy gaze shows every object in a new (decomposed) light. And yet the out-of-focus gaze still puts something in focus. Touched by affection. The house as a lukewarm uterus; a liquefied atmosphere in amniotic suspension. The vague view of a foetus huddled up upon itself offers both glimmers of surprise and long periods of relaxation, rested, perhaps even wearing the faintest of smiles. Something suggests the words: “pause for reflection”. Something else prompts a further ambiguous statement: “The most frightening thing was the silence”. Outside, or inside?


Ferruccio Giromini

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