The Italian photographer talks to Lowenna Waters about photographing crumbling and deserted locations
Photo: FABIANO PARISIBy Lowenna Waters
How do you track down your locations?
This has become a lot easier recently, because neglected spaces and urban exploration are considered cool. Before travelling I research online or in books, and then I travel with a map – I travel a lot. I’ve photographed all the locations I wanted to in Italy and Europe, so these days I’m often in the United States. However, if I see 10 locations, I may only shoot one. Many are trashed with graffiti tags, so I don’t want to document them. I’m interested in preserved places; my interest is not particularly in the decay, but in the beauty left behind.
Do you always use natural light?
I use a tripod to shoot, and I always work early in the morning, so it’s all natural light in my photographs. That’s very important to me. The light you find in these places is often very evocative, because there are some very bright areas, some very dark, with deep black parts, which is redolent of the contrasts apparent in the places themseleves. For me, it recalls light shining on the grand architecture of a decaying empire, with the broad areas of shadow and the dark hues evoking a bygone history.
Do you have a favourite photograph from the series?
I think that the photographs of the theatres and cinemas that were taken in the United States are really crazy, because they’re like you are in another era. They were made for about 6000 people, so they are huge and it’s really like being immersed in a movie. There is a real sense of a human presence, yet there are not humans in any of the photographs: it is like you can’t see them but you can hear them. It’s so strange being in these spaces because there are so many traces of human presence.
What kit do you use?
All my photographs are digital, but I don’t edit or change anything in the frame. I also have the opportunity to print in my studio in Rome with my own printer, so it’s like I’m shooting with film because it’s the same process.
Are the photos in the series connected?
The only connection between the images is visual; there is nothing chronological. The picture could have been taken in Italy, Germany, Russia or the United States, but they all have a similarity. It’s like global research, and it’s fascinating that you can find strong connections in the mood, frame and light or architecture, despite being in a place thousands of miles away.
You‘ve photographed interiors and exteriors in the series. Which do you prefer?
Whether the shot is inside or outside is not important for me. If I find something that’s visually very close to the series, I will shoot it wherever it is. The most important thing is to stay close to the surreal plot that I’ve developed in my series. I’ve been told that my pictures are like being immersed in a Stanley Kubrick movie, and I think they are close to that feeling. You don’t know if it’s real or unreal, what year it is, or which country you’re in.
What do you want to work on next?
I’m working on a few series at the moment. In one, I want to recreate the feel of this series of abandoned locations, but in the cities we live in every day. So, I’ve found parts of cities that are very crowded in the day, and I shoot them really early in the morning in the periods when there’s no one around, no cars and no people. In another series, ‘The Sunset’, I’ve started to include people. It’s a very important series because it really captures the concept behind my work. It’s not only about the past, but also the present and the future. It’s surreal; you can’t tell if it’s natural or artificial, real or computer graphics. I’m trying to tell a story about the strange atmosphere you can find in places that you live every day.
Source: The Telegraph