Mantua seen by its photographers 

Mantova Museo Urbano Diffuso

Which is the real face of a city? Sometimes it hides in the beauty of the Palaces, in the rough reality of the streets, in the particular of a wall, in the appearance of the drawings with their dream atmosphere, in the nights, in the footprints of the time. But more often it hides in the gaze of a turist. 

Spazio Prossimo, di Giulia Flavia Baczynski    
The space that surrounds us takes shape in our mind. It leads us to envisage a world map. “Close space” allows us to inspect Mantua’s monumental architecture, taking inspiration from the concept of  “personal distance”, a concept developed by proxemics, the discipline that studies human space in relation to communication. “Personal distance” is the space where it is possible for us to extend an arm and grasp a person in front of us. Here the “other” is represented by the architectural space in which we move, often in a distracted way, without taking notice of it. To grasp does not literally mean to touch, but to establish a connection with the object, place, the space we are physically immersed in. It is an attempt to understand our relation to architecture and the role we play in this relation.

Giulia Flavia Baczynski was born in Verona in 1982. She graduated in architecture at the Politecnico in Milan. During her university years she became interested in photography and in the representation of the space generated and inhabited by man. During the years to come the concept of space, urban, rural, imaginary or conceptual, became the focus of her research. She worked for architects, university professors and cultural associations, also carrying out her own projects that have been exhibited in Italy and abroad. She has also published many of her works.

Memory of a dream, by Giuseppe Gradella
What I slowly tried to “steal” is the dimension of the human trace inside places that outlive man, places that change when visited by men with a new vision of the world. I wanted to represent, the best I could, the precarious nature of some types of beauty, shifting my gaze from the highest points to the darkest corners, trying to capture the presence of those who are “absent”, who can be felt in the graffiti of bored soldiers and in the waxed sheets that look like rocks next to stern faces. It was not a way to put more noble arts at a distance, what I was trying to do was to capture the earthly and sublime weakness of art, and I like to think that what my work conveys is more similar to the memory of a dream, than to a document of what I actually saw.

Giuseppe Gradella was born in Mantua in 1973, today he lives in Curtatone (MN). He graduated in architectural planning in Ferrara, becoming passionate about contemporary art and photography during his university years, although he started photographing only in 2008. He has published various works on the site PhotoVogue Italia, and collaborates with architecture and design studios, also exhibiting in solo and collective shows.

Mantua, by Davide Grossi
Grossi was born in Parma in 1971. He is a photographer specializing in architecture and landscape, and particularly interested in the relation between man and territory. He grew up in the Emilia Romagna region, and adheres to the values of the “Emilian School of Photography”, owning his visual approach to photographers such as Luigi Ghirri, Giovanni Chiaramonte, Vittore Fossati, Vincenzo Castella. Also, he is particularly indebted to authors such as Stephen Shore, Lewis Baltz, Walker Evans and to the young Italians Italiani Francesco Jodice, Andrea Botto, Marco Introini and Marco Zanta.

The monuments are here represented at night. The role of artificial light in the contemporary urban setting is fundamental to understand space and the way we relate to it. The gaze interprets the interaction between the architecture of the city and light, which is an essential part of the project in its multiple functions. Light is an element at the heart of artistic research, it is essential for the interpretation of a city, urban planning, and in general it plays a central role in our interpretation of the world. Light is a source of shocks, a powerful tool that can change our perception of the landscape and of what lays beyond us. Light is an extreme metaphor of modernity.

Mantua square, by Marco Introini
The sequence presented for the exhibition is a selection of a broader documentary work on Mantua that reflects on the relation between the urban fabric and monuments, started in 2012 and carried out during the years.

Marco Introini graduated in architecture. He is a photographer specializing in landscape and architecture. He teaches Architecture Photography and Representation of Architecture at the Politecnico in Milan. In 2006 he published his work in the catalogue of the Italian Pavilion of the 10th Biennial of Architecture curated by Franco Purini.
He was interviewed by Letizia Gagliardi for the book La Misura dello Spazio, where he features among the twenty most influential photographers of architecture of the past ten years.
In 2015 he was commissioned by the Italian Ministry of Culture to document post-war architecture in the region of Lombardia.
In 2015 his project Milano Illuminista was selected by the Fondo Malerba per la Fotografia .
In 2016 he held a solo exhibition, Ritratti di Monumenti, at the Museum MAGA, and Warm Modernity_Indian Paradigm at the 21st Triennial. The book, by the same title, curated by Maddalena d’Alfonso, has won the RedDot Award 2016.

I was looking for great beauty, then I found it, by Pietro Millenotti
Pietro Millenotti was born in 1973. He graduated in International Business Marketing at the University of Wales. In 2000 he attended a two year directing course at the National Academy of Cinema in Bologna. 

He has been photographer since 2007, and has developed an interest for projects focusing on the interaction between man and territory. In 2013 he was awarded the second prize ex-aequeo at the competition “Portfolio Italia – Gran Premio Epson”. His works have been exhibited in galleries and festivals in Italy and have been published in magazines and on websites. At the moment he is working on a long term project on Italian and European coastlines. He is co-founder of the Festival di Fotografia Contemporanea Diecixdieci. “I was looking for beauty and I found it”: the images of the building confirm this. It is an historic and architectural heritage that is intimidating for of its dimensions and enchanting for of its beauty, that is at times almost violent but also surprisingly delicate. “I wanted to capture the beauty in the rigorous harmony of the shapes, in the overlapping of real and imaginary spaces, of past and present”.

Bagài, by Anna Positano
In Mantuan dialect Bagài means “Thing, Shop, Brothel. Low voices used to speak of something whose name does not come ti mind” (Dizionario Mantovano-Italiano di Francesco Cherubini). This work explores the process of modernization and adaptation of five historical monuments in Mantua. After having lost one's bearing in the indefinite vastness of these buildings, the photos show the infinitely small, the infinitesimal, the inconspicuous that make the monuments accessible to the public.

Anna Positano lives and works in Genoa, where she graduated in architecture. She completed her studies with a master in photography at the London College of Communication in 2009. Her work has been exhibited internationally in private galleries and public institutions. Positano works on her own artistic and research projects and on commissions for architects and journals.

"And then I'm seized by another kind of vertigo, that of the detail of the detail of the detail: I get sucked into the infinitesimal, the infinitely small, when I was previously lost in the infinitely vast"

Italo Calvino, America Lessons, 1988.

Grand What, by Fabrizio Vatieri
There is the gaze of the tourists, superficial and ephemeral, and also a more silent moment, at night, when architecture seems to show its most true and intimate nature. The city and its architecture are admired by tourists in a peculiar way: the gaze of a tourists moves on the surface, it is an overbearing gaze, with a strong imaginative tendency. The places visited by tourists are not however unmoved by this bizarre human presence. A human figure is here superimposed intentionally on the architecture and on the places. The presence of tourists in fact causes a change in the places, a sort of contamination. The tourists is here depicted immersed in this state of suspension in which one is intent on being a “tourist”. Grand What? is a reflection on the complex issue of the true nature of a place, in which the camera, the tourist and the art works contribute in equal measure to shaping  the essence of the place.

Fabrizio Vatieri was born in Naples in 1982, today he lives and works in Milan. He became interested in photography while studying architecture. His work is an investigation into the identity of places and into the relationship between photographs and imagined reality.
In 2012 he started to work on the Mediterranean scenario; a first step of this research was the project Mediterranean Drama, exhibited in Pelagica in 2014, a curatorial and research project he carried out together with Laura Lecce.
Since 2013 he has been involved as curator and as artist in Exposed, a project and platform that uses artistic practices, created with the aim of investigating the transformations of the city of Milan that was preparing for the 2015 Expo.
His work has been exhibited in various galleries, institutions and festivals in Italy and abroad. Among the main shows: Milan Triennial, Shoshana Wayne Gallery (Santa Monica, CA), Casa del Mantegna (Mantua), Museum of Photography in Thessaloniki, Fondazione Forma Meravigli (Milan), Bitume Festival (Lecce), Cortona On The Move. His photographs have appeared in many magazines and journals among which Abitare, Domus, Rivista Studio, L’architettura del Mondo, Infrastrutture, MobilitaÌ, Nuovi Paesaggi, The Abramovic Method. In March 2016, together with other photographers and artists, he co-founded Op-Fot, a studio specialized in photography of art works, architecture and design, with various studios in Italy, the main one in Milan. Members of the studio are: Nicola Nunziata, Anna Positano, Tommaso Tanini, Matteo Girola, Alberto Sinigaglia.

Credits: Story

Ideato e promosso da / Founded and Promoted by:
Mattia Palazzi (Sindaco del Comune di Mantova)
con Lorenza Baroncelli (Assessore alla rigenerazione urbana e del territorio, marketing urbano, progetti e relazioni internazionali del Comune di Mantova)

Coordinamento Scientifico / Scientific Coordinator:
Sebastiano Sali

Curatori testi e immagini / Superintendent texts and images:
Giulia Flavia Baczynski
Giuseppe Gradella
Davide Grossi
Marco Introini
Pietro Millenotti
Anna Positano
Fabrizio Vatieri

Redazione / Editors :
Erica Beccalossi
Sara Crimella
Carlotta Depalmas
Veronica Zirelli

Un ringraziamento speciale a / A special thanks to:
Emma Catherine Gainsforth
Politecnico di Milano-Polo di Mantova

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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