Beaches thronging with holidaymakers, ski stations seething with skiers coming and going, swimming pools, discotheques pated with youths deafened by the music…
Massimo Vitali’s photographs portray the rituals of modern-day entertainment and represent the chaotic arbitrariness (and hence – at least apparently – outside the norms) of fragmented thymus of leisure, pleasure and relaxation. The freedom to not have to do anything, the temporarily granted possibility to suspend the regular rhythm of working life and to escape the necessity of doing in order not to do, be lazy, wander aimlessly, get bored, waste time…, produce a disorderly temporal space, void of sense for society, inasmuch as unproductive.
Vitali’s images frame portions of landscape, only identifiable by the activities carried out in them and by the inhabitants who are temporarily invading that space, giving it connotations. So just as free time represents a productive void, a worthless interval in the production and work process, in the same way, the space which acts as a backdrop to the images makes no sense if deprived of the people occupying it.

The leisure spaces are in fact places without identity, if uninhabited; they are spaces of  “limit”, suspended places waiting to be occupied in order to take on their meaning, that can be indistinctly places within the public or private social sphere, among the fantasies of desire, dreams and the tangible possibility of experience. The presence of the city or production works, which often act as a backdrop to Vitali’s images, emphasizes the contrast of this ephemeral world  with the real world of everyday life, transforming the physical space into a magical place, a theatre of the absurd, where the spontaneous actions of characters which animate the scene is banal and at times indecipherable.

The large dimensions of the images, which develop over lengths of metros, portray a very detailed composition of a series of numerous microcosms, in which the observer can conjure up memories of similar experiences already encountered in potentially analogous places, although not necessarily the same. The multiplicity of focal points in the scene, the apparent randomness in the framing of the picture, and the absence of a hierarchical order among the figures portrayed and the almost stereotyped banality of their gestures, stimulate the observer’s curiosity and lead him or her to look instinctively for narrative links among the subjects.

But a logical sequence is continually escaping, always referring back to that disorder, which we are undeniably fascinated by and which offers us the ephemeral opportunity to cut out a temporal space in our lives that is free from financial and social conditioning. Vitali’s photos tell of this desire, white and undefined just as in our dreams.

Valentina Muscedra, "Ritrarre l'effimero" in Area, January/February 2009, pp. 104 - 115.