Masquerades as Reality

The traffic in signs is a shifting and constantly reforming visual landscape, a mixture of the histories that form us and the politics that define us. On these journeys and journeyings, a camera has usually preceded us, often accompanies us, and inhabits our material and mental worlds. In the photographic image an imaginary world masquerades as reality, but in that masquerade something of the world’s magical strangeness might reside in the most familiar of encounters: a day at the beach a night at the club.

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Jon Bird

Digital vs. Analog

Massimo Vitali's diptych of the Sao Paolo market in Brazil highlights the dichotomy of digital vs. analogue photography and its various implications. One photograph is taken with analogue film and one with a digital camera, leaving the viewer to contemplate the minimal difference between the two images. The artist's intent is to provoke in the viewer a series of reflections specifically on the medium employed and more generally on the larger idea of representation.

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Alessandro Romanini

Domenica

A number of large-format Italian views from his famous Beach Series are now on display at Palais Metternich. Due to their ethereal or even surreal exquisiteness, Due Sorelle Motor Boat (2013) and Bassa Trinità Blue Ball (2013) fit in very well with the elegant atmosphere of the Garland Salon. On the other hand, Rosignano Night (1995), packed with a crowd of people, and the somewhat unwieldy Livorno Calafuria (2002) have been installed in the Battle Salon, named after a monumental painting attributed to Nicola Mario Rossi that shows Vienna’s liberation from the Turks in 1683.

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Marcello Farabegoli

2004

In Travelling light: Photography, Travel and Visual Culture, Peter D. Osborne describes the beach as a place on the periphery: "As a site of cultural meanings the holiday beach tends to be associated with the liminal. It stands literally, literally at both the social and geographical edge. It is fluid, part nature and part out, spaced-out, a slip of land where society leaves its slip showing where things split out…" As a separate space, the beach gives individuals the opportunity to relax unencumbered by clothes or quotidian tasks, and as such has long drawn photographers, such as Paul Martin and Weege, focused on capturing the working classes at leisure.

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Matthew Trygve Tung

1994

We met Massimo Vitali for the first time in the spring of 1994. Chiasso was on his way to Germany, and at that time he travelled a lot - for love - from his home in Marina di Pietrasanta in Italy. During one of his visits to the gallery, he showed us his first images, the kernels of what would become the "Spiagge italiane" project. These works contained black-and-white landscapes of panoramic proportions, showing riverbanks in Eastern Germany as viewed from the water, maybe from a boat.

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Daniela and Guido Giudici

The Meter of the World

The consumers of free time portrayed by Vitali denounce a dialectic relationship between social or individuals’ needs, and real needs, between the “quality of life” and the “quantity of consumption.”

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Stefano Pezzato

Feet in the Water

The crowd reassembled under the lens of Vitali is characterized by its frightening banality. The suspension of the judgement by the artist reinforces this uneasiness: we are in front of as many mysteries as people.

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Sophie Blass-Fabiani

Jack Kerouac in Milan, 1966

So, the 28th of September Kerouac came to Italy, for only 76 hours, because he needed 800 dollars to pay the rent and with the other 200 he would pay for part of his mother’s hospital bills. On the plane he drank whiskey which immediately had a bad effect on him; an editorial bureaucrat who was escorting him and whose name I have never known said to him that he was “making an ass of himself”, he was giving a very bad impression, and that by showing up drunk he wouldn’t earn the money of the Italian editor honestly.

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Fernanda Pivano

What’s between Your Fingers but that World into which You Have Thrust Your Hand?

One wonders how long it took for the others-most of the people in the scene-not to stare at the photographer on his giant podium. In digital processing, of course, it would be possible to eliminate anyone looking at the camera. Indeed, it would be possible to generate everything digitally in both pictures. The supernaturally sharp, bright, wood, and deep vista does seem a little faked, like a postcard or poster that has been touched up, whiter by airbrush (analog) or software (digital).

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Whitney Davis

Unease of the Normal

Reality has always been interpreted through the reports given by images; and philosophers since Plato have tried to loosen our dependence on images by evoking the standard of an image-free way of apprehending the real. In today’s society we really live under the supremacy of images. It is not reality but images as conceptions that reproduce the illusion. Vitali, however, uses exactly images/photographs to debunk the illusion of reality.

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Alan Kostrenčić