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Saturday, 24 August 2013

The eyes of the viscera

Ciao you all!

With the summer getting to its end I surely should be thinking about packing and planning but I'm actually much busier trying to make the most of my last weeks in Italy, doing everything I wanted to do and filling my eyes and my mind with this beauty all around...

At the beginning of the summer I made a mental list with all the exhibitions I would have wanted to go to and at this point I am actually quite happy as I made it to most of them...
Of course, only some of them deserve to be quoted in my baby blog and today I want to share with you  something about one of these.

As some of you may know due to the article published on
Antoine D'Agata, famous and controvert French photographer, is now exposing in Milan his major work and collection of his experiences through the years "Anticorps" at the Fondazione Forma in Milan.

Members of Magnum photograph since 2004, D'Agata was often criticised because of the brutality of some of his images, which is probably one of the reasons why this exhibition was opened only for people over 18.

I must say, I wouldn't take anyone younger than that to see these photos.
Maybe because of his theory that photos should be looked with the viscera and the depth of the person more than with simply the eyes, maybe because they are a real, but seriously real report of his life trough drugs and sex and travels all around the world to discover these things, D'Agata's photographs are extremely strong.
Sometimes even upsetting.

Something which I kind of enjoyed doing was testing myself how long I was able to stare at some photos without feeling the need to look somewhere else, take a brake from them and think.
What I've noticed was that my reaction depended from photos to photos, of course, but in general I've found out that if the firs examples of D'Agata's works such as the pictures he took in Mexico at the end of the 90s totally captured me in a way that I was not expecting, also because the subjects in these were much less strong despite being still very controvert,

the newer pieces of work D'Agata has made recently were a little bit too much.

I do like provocation.
I like to provoke and be provoked.
I do think that provocation could be a strong feature to make contemporary art and photography more interesting, as it's a very simple way to create something new and different and throw it out there to sound out the reaction of the public.

If we think about it, provoking has always been the way for art to introduce something new to the world and the public.
All the new pictorial and photography styles were nothing but the attempt to create something different from what had been done before, even if the inventors of these currents were not at all sure of the reaction the public would have had toward them.
What is this, if not a provocation?

This said, what I really do not like it's the provocation for provocation's sake.
The desperate attempt to shock the public by using thorny symbols and images which are supposed to upset the public and generate attention but which are instead loosing value because of this overuse of them from many contemporary artists.

No, seeing a vagina or a penis in front of me in the form of sculpture, painting, photograph, bricolage doesn't upset me anymore, sorry!
It actually annoys me, as I think about the masters of the pas who were able to generate interest and create something new and, not to forget, beautiful without using genitals or scary images.

What I thought about D'Agata's work at the beginning of the exhibition was: "Wow!";
yes, provocative,
yes, scabrous,
but not at all for it's own sake.
I felt like his way yo take and be taken pictures during real situation of his crazy life in order to give a report of something really deep and dark such as his life which he actually chose to be like that was something I liked.
Provocation with a meaning.

This until I got to the latest works of D'Agata.
I don't know if it's because of the need he may have to go further and further on with craziness and darkness,
or maybe because all these drugs must have had some kind of effect at the end of the day but is latest works are not only a little too much in the sense that they become explicit in a kind of predictable way, but they are actually a lot more upsetting than the other ones.

I respect that feeling they give you because it could be the climax of D'Agata's view on seeing with the viscera (and believe me the viscera here are certainly making themselves be perceived...) but they also take me back to that sense of cheap provocation with not so much effort.
Many incredible photographers were able to play with upsetting topics without compromising the beauty of the photograph itself.
I'm not sure if D'Agata's does that in his latest works.
The first photographs are so beautiful I couldn't stop looking at them, 
the more recent ones are, it makes me sad to say that, very ugly.
And if I can understand the desire of creating interest, provoke and touch sensitive stuff, 
I cannot accept the artist compromising the beauty of his work by focusing too much on the other aspects.

Art is always beauty,
and I am not thinking about a Greek classical type of beauty, 
but beauty has always to be part of the game.
Remember Diane Arbus photographs of outcasts and outsiders of society, sometime portraying subjects which not many people would define as beautiful.
Her photographs instead are absolutely gorgeous.

Anyway, the overall feeling after attending D'Agata's exhibition was of great satisfaction for seeing these photographs, as they were able to raise a lot of reflections in my mind, which is what I love the most about a good exhibition, especially if it's contemporary art.

We were actually very lucky as the Fondazione Forma was not only hosting D'Agata's exhibition but two rooms of the Foundation were dedicated to another Magnum photographer, very different from D'Agata's but certainly famous as the average price for one of his documentary pictures in between 10.000 and 40.000 euros.

Sebastiao Salgado is a Brazilian photographer, documentary photographer, educated in Paris and prizewinning artist.
The Fondazione Forma is now hosting a small account of his work through the North America, Africa and the Poles, whose images are simply incredible.
I personally love documentary photography and one of the reasons for that is because I think you need much more that a camera, a good lens and a beautiful landscape to take good documentary pictures.

Well, seeing Salgado's ones made me feel crazy for not knowing him already.
He is amazing and I surely recommend you to have a look at him.
For now, you could read his story and look at some of the snaps I've taken...

...African beauties

After the exhibition we moved to the centre of Milan to have an ice cream in Piazza Duomo and wonder a bit around, enjoying the sun and the nice temperature which is finally reaching Italy after two months of tropical heat.
Doing that, we bumped into some other kind of art, maybe we should call it street art...
What do you think?

Thinking about this Tuesday in Milan it makes me laugh to realise how this always happens in Italy: you go somewhere to see one particular thing and you end up finding so much more to see, like and enjoy that at the end of the day you almost forget which one was that you went there for...

Hope you enjoyed all!
Tonight I'm going to another exhibition, this time much more private but I don't want to spoil it yet...
More coming up!

Stay tuned...

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