Are there consistent social types to be found in the herds of skiiers, blissed-out ravers, or oblivious beach-goers Vitali photographs? What do they look like? How do we experience these different beaches? Is there any difference between our own beach experiences, or are we essentially doing the same thing, again and again and again? Does it even matter which beach we visit, or disco? The cumulative effect is more anthropological than aesthetic.

And the effect is critical. The beachgoers’ state of undress leaves them stripped down, that harsh light exposing them to our consideration, judgment, and, ultimately, self-recognition. Vitali’s subject is the not the beauty of leisure or nature, but the vapidity and emptiness with which we experience those things. The images of Arcadian Ruins are populated not by a moneyed elite, by disengaged and bored tourists, out at the beach for a strictly codified, and perhaps commodified, experience. In Les Catedrales, a school group trudges across the damp sand, presumably returning to their coach bus and the highway to the next beach. In Sarakiniko Meltemi, (#4565), pictured at right, lonely visitors look out onto the whitecapped waves or into the screens of their own digital cameras. The denizens populating these photographs are visitors, or better yet, interlopers, come to consume what nature has to offer before leaving. They are us. The beaches themselves are interchangeable, which Vitali’s tendency to over-expose emphasizes. Each seems the continuation of the one before it, one more stop on an endless leisure tour.

Sam Cate-Gumpert, Massimo Vitali's huge, blown-out beach scenes interrogate what the West calls 'leisure' in Politico, February 7, 2012.
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