I have to admit that when I now turned a page of the book of photographs the impact of the first view was so powerful – to me, wholly devastating – that I was put off from searching for details, because the whole defied any specifics; it became a real effort to find any detail that would shift the overwhelming vision, and in many cases any detail appeared to be irrelevant to that vision.

I had to search throughout the photograph on page 17 for a telling detail, and found this difficult, though I did focus in on a single woman carrying two large bags, she among a crowd of people walking up or down a huge hill of what looks like a huge drift of pale sand.  There is also a long narrow line of people climbing the hill of sand on what appear to be steep steps with rope handles on each side. The more I studied the photograph, the more insignificant the woman carrying the big bags appeared, and I realised that, really, the whole of the photograph belied any attention to details. The companion photograph on page 19 made this clearer to me; it was as if the picture was so immediate and thorough in its initial impact that there could be no shifting from that impact.

Then, on page 67, the vision is so simply and shockingly stated that no detail could shift it—the photograph of a natural, calm, blue sea inlet in a desert, and a few people, on a steep bank, looking down at one person standing alone in the pool. The questions were not, who are they, where are they, why are they there. The questions, on viewing the photographs, seemed not to matter; the people had always been there, and the sea inlet had always been there.

On page 69, I saw nothing but pale desert, with, perhaps, the foreground of pale water, and an enormous, pale sky. 

David Plante, The Photographs of Massimo Vitali, Specially Written Contribution, February 11, 2020.