Massimo Coppola: So from what I understand you love people photography because the amateur simply records something that happens, without a specific point of view or a set goal. The casual photographer with a mobile phone sees something that strikes him and records it, in a reactive and therefore natural, almost animalesque way, responding to a stimulus and even if he wanted to, he would not have the time and tools to organize a point of view…
Massimo Vitali: He can’t fool you. Especially with mobile phone videos, they show much more than the maker intended to show. They are free, true, much more than anything I could do. The non-photographer takes a picture because something unexpected happens, he is not prepared, therefore more natural and more true. The exact opposite of what I do. I always have a plan.
MC: The repeated neutrality of where the camera is – always the same perspective, almost always the same height, with only small variations clearly dictated by the “shape” of the place, are certainly strong elements. But so is the work you do in post-production, exalting the whites to make nature abstract, almost as if to want to erase it to show human beings even more “naked”, in their showy revealing full of color.
MV: This is a very good definition, I like what you says. In fact, I would like to make the beach less important: from the light colors of the beach I bring out the bodies, the shapes, the towels, the objects that humans carry with them. I look for my white to simplify the photo.
The viewer must focus on humanity, on who we are, on what we do when nothing happens. I’m not interested in photographing someone who shoots a rifle, for me it’s more important to know what you do when you don’t do anything. Most people do absolutely normal things, I’m interested in them: history is made up of normal people doing normal things.
MC: One of the initial motives of your artistic research has to do with Berlusconi’s electoral victory in 1994.
MV: I was incredulous, yes. The day he won the elections I had to try to use a new tripod that I had built myself and since I was near Pietrasanta I said to myself “I’m going to the beach” and everything started from there.
I want to photograph people, but how do I photograph them on the beach? I put the tripod in the sea and so the people, who always look towards the sea, look towards me. And then I started getting interested in how people behave, how they move or don’t move.
MC: But what does Berlusconi have to do with it?
MV: I was shocked that a significant number of Italians had voted for Berlusconi. If I go to the beach and have two hundred people in front of me, about a hundred of them had voted for Berlusconi. I wanted to look them in the face, I wanted to understand.