WORK 27 / CONTEXT / FRIENDS

FRIENDS 01/12 This work makes use of a selection of photographs depicting my acquaintances in special periods of my life. I take an average of 1.200 casual photos every year which amounts to 100 per month. To be more precise the average of casual photos I take of my acquaintances amount to 50 during the winter period with a pick of 100 during Christmas. In the summer instead I am more outgoing and I am meeting many old acquaintances. Then the photos I take of them can amount to even 300 per month. To begin with these photos are placed in folders corresponding to each month. At the end of each year I go through these folders selecting the best photos the most meaningful photos I have taken of different acquaintances. Later I add them to the file representing each one of them. In this work then the 432 total month productions correspond to .pdf files in which photos of one particular acquaintance are placed chronologically (Fig. A photo of my mother as part of one of the first month files of this work. After she divorced from my biological father and after he moved to Canada for good, she remarried and settled with me and her new family in a city down the highland where I was born. As a consequence I not only lost connection with my family there but I also lost all my friends. I suddenly had to make new ones and struggle to integrate in my stepfather's family).

FRIENDS 02/12 This part of the project can be considered as a cemetery in which old and forgotten material has been revived and where I can pay an occasional visit to. Here I can look at one or another file I have of my friends and can cry over memories I would not cry for otherwise. In this respect I am not a secrete East German police making up files for each of my acquaintances. I am setting up and curating little sanctuaries to commemorate my dear ones. Several other the analogies with ancient cultures commemorating dead people even in private households as described by Marco Polo in his journey to and through China. This is of particular significance for me. Over the years I had many intense relationships with people and I often had to give them up in order to move on to a new phase. Originally I even made music videos out of all the photos corresponding to a particular acquaintance. In order to do so I would choose a song linked to that period of time such as the Beatles' “Across the Universe” for my friend Davide. The music, created a more vivid in-depth commemoration but was later dismissed to allow the growth of the collection without limiting it to a set amount of frames (Fig. Picture of Davide. This work also reveals my life prior to the project such as living in an abandoned school with him and roaming around with an old van across Europe).

FRIENDS 03/12 Pictures of me from my birth in 1979 to my parents divorce in 1984 are rare. The ones I had were sent to me by my father in Montreal after over twenty years we lost contact. From 1984 to 1996 my stepfather had been photographing me and my twin sister while being on holidays or in special occasions like weddings and birthdays. This has resulted in some hundred booklets filled with photos which I took my time to scan. My stepfather was particularly passionate about depicting the family moments together. A case with a heavy analog camera was always present throughout our ski trips to the mountains and our summer holidays in the south of Italy. In this respect I have borrowed from my stepfather the more technical side in photography. The latter however never taught me how to use a camera; I only got used to all his technical equipment and accessories. He was rather advanced being among the first doctors in Italy to do surgery through a camera (Fig. A photo of me and my twin sister seating on a Roman ruin in Sardinia in the summer of 1988. The shadow of my stepfather can be seen in the bottom right corner. The latter often wanted me and my sister to pose in such occasions reconstructing a family history we inevitably lost after my mother divorced and uprooted us from our native highland).

FRIENDS 04/12 From 1996 when I moved oversea to attend a year of high school in Wisconsin, I started taking my own pictures using an analogue camera. In year 2000 I got my first digital camera. From the commencement of my photographic project in 2004 however, I have experienced moments in which I did not take any other pictures than those I took of my right hand interacting with objects at least until the spring of 2005 when my oldest son was born. Despite this blank period I also make use of other people's pictures or better pictures I take of their pictures such as when visiting their homes, like that of my biological father's sister where I could get for the first time some photos of my paternal grandfather (Fig. Screenshot showing me removing pictures from my photo albums. In the year I spent in Wisconsin I started painting and doing all the creative activities I was denied to do back in Italy. I also had quite an adventurous life I documented through my journaling and my photographing. At last I not only printed these photos but made collages of them. It was quite a challenge to scan them and include them in this work. Many of the photos of my acquaintances were only in these albums such as my Brazilian friend Mario Maia and Eugenio Segantini. The latter was born the same day as me but died just a few years later of a brain tumor).

FRIENDS 05/12 Some characters belonging to 1 of the 432 productions are only photographed once or twice. The amount of photographs however does not coincide with the relation that I had with such characters. It might only indicate that this character may have been for example an old and grumpy neighbour not willing to appear in a photo and that I might have photographed him accidentally. Nonetheless there was an intensity of relation between me and this character and therefore it was worth to include him or her in this digital cemetery (Fig. An accidental picture of Rino Costa a grumpy old man living in the mountain village where I built my final museum. Rino was always reserved yet always wanted to supervise any kind of work I would do. He always had to give his personal opinion about it and always told me how he would have done it in a different way. Despite his fastidious presence I grew also close to him. Often I would try to let him talk about the old days in the village trying to divert him from all the fuss he had in mind. This particular picture was taken while installing the glass of the large window of the barn where I store my physical archive of this project, the very barn that everyone expected to become a nice house. In the end it only served me as a base to store the equipment I needed to build the project museum in the near valley).

FRIENDS 06/12 I am aware not only that the amount of people I relate to are limited to about one hundred and fifty but also that in the palette of acquaintances I have in my head, new acquaintances come to take up the role of old lost ones. This is rather clear at times with my oldest son living faraway in Sweden and my youngest son which I confuse calling them with each others name. Analyzing my unconscious I have also realized that new friends are pretty much treated like a friend I might have lost, a friend with a particular characteristic. My old friend Davide for example was replaced with my polish friend Jacek to later being replaced again with my friend Mathijn all of them being musicians and of particular talent, in a way becoming like the satyr accompanying the Greek god Dionysus. Even when I was no longer able to travel and experience international environments, certain figures with certain roles in my life were replace by new figures in more narrow local environments (Fig. Screenshot showing how I with a new year go through the pictures of the previous year. Firstly I place them in different folders to later add them to already existing month productions or new month productions in case they haven't been yet created. In the middle of the screenshot is the text-file where I can check which month production corresponds to which acquaintance).

FRIENDS 07/12 In some cases the amount of pictures contained in a file is exceedingly high. The resulting .pdf file associated to an acquaintance can then become impossible to edit. In this respect I have to create separate .pdf files of the pictures I have created of a particular acquaintance and then merge it to the mother file (Fig. Screenshot of the month file where I collect a selection of the photos I took of my oldest son. Because I did not grow up with a father I was very attached to my first son. I always took him outdoor for small excursions, refusing to dump in a kindergarten as all other Swedish parents did with their kids. Because of this I had to confront the family of my son's mother. All the time we spent away from the internment of social institutions have generated quite a narrative of events leading us all the way to China and later the United States where we lived prior returning to the dull and institutionalized Swedish environment. This adventurous life was I depicted photographing my oldest son alone or taking selfies together. The result are hundreds of photos making the actual file belonging to my oldest son hard to handle and unstable. Also with time my son and I were kept apart by several events such as the world pandemic of 2020 and later the beginning of his demanding career as a programmer).

FRIENDS 08/12 Given that over the years I have collected many different photos of many different sizes and resolutions, overall the resulting .pdf files render very tiny images and very big ones. At last it was quite impossible to have a decent overview of the various files especially those that cover a large span of time and therefore also of different reproduction technology. In this respect I have developed a work-around this issue: I regularly print a .pdf file out of the .pdf where the photos are collected using Microsoft pdf engine in portrait A4 mode., fitting to the printer margins, auto-rotating and centering each photo. After printing it I crop and remove the white margins and then rotate where needed. (Fig. Screenshot showing the work-around I developed to avoid having images of many different sizes in the ultimate outcome of each month production. As visible in the screenshot relating to my Dutch neighbours, I have also collected the actual photo I have used in my work of head-shots depicting new friends. Later as the relation became more intense with many experiences shared together, I started a collection for all of their family members. In this respect relationship with people that do not develop into at least a proper sharing of experiences in life such as walking and eating together and helping each other, are not included as part of my acquaintances).

FRIENDS 09/12 To a certain extent this work gave me the mission to return to my acquaintances and develop the branch in life we have started out together. Also with time and my children to take care of it became increasingly harder to have a social life whatsoever. I then became better in trying to keep up the relation with the few acquaintances that I can still afford to see. Perhaps in fact the acquaintances I invest the most into irresolutely are those who have been of help in the construction of the project museum in the alps. Given that for this museum I have given the whole of myself and the whole of my resources giving up any secure career as a scholar or as an established artist, these friends became indispensable. In this respect those few who have facilitated me in the making of the project museum became the friends I kept investing on, while the many others who kept indifferent about it where sort of lost on the way. In the process I also made many enemies, namely those who tried in all possible manners to prevent me to build my museum so as to keep the ground to decimate the birds migrating across the alps (Fig. Screenshot of one of the folders of the website I have set up to present the Larnax foundation under which I have located my alpine museum. The few people volunteering to help me are here presented).

FRIENDS 10/12 I have been using different cameras to photograph my acquaintances but ultimately made use of my smartphone. Usually I would try to take a photo by decentering the person and taking more of the background in the back to contextualize a give memory but the smartphone skewed the sides of the image and I resolved to keep the acquaintance in the center so as to take a better picture. Even if I am taking casual photos in a way I am more consistent than all others of my acquaintances as I make it a point always to take a photo of an acquaintance for every occasion we spend together. In this respect I do not only take the camera out during birthdays or weddings. During these events I take relatively little pictures keeping rather constant in my photographing endeavor. A small walk in the forest then is also such occasion and I naturally take a photo most likely when a certain climax is reached without much obstruction (Fig. Casual pictures taken in the month of March 2020. The resulting photos are mostly only of my kids as right then the pandemic broke out and I was left alone with them. The labels of the photos show the time in which they were taken and give a sense of the consistency with which I use my camera. Many of these photos will not end up in a month production but only the ones I find most emblematic).

FRIENDS 11/12 With this work I am interested in giving a broad perspective of my acquaintances and like to add more photos whenever I can of their past. In this respect if one of them shows a photo of their youth I ask to photograph it. The resulting photos are with a frame and I am likely to crop it and introduce it in a particular month production trying to keep a chronology based on an assumption on when the photo was taken. The archive I have generated is also a way for others to keep track of their photos. It is me who preserve in a way the memory of my close friends and relatives. If they need a photo of the past it is likely they would ask me as I took the trouble to scan through thousands of them and later always having the camera ready to depict a moment in the life shared together. All the privacy implications brought forth by social media and the resulting discreetness in photographing others not only is killing this kind of photography but also the very being together. My acquaintances know that I am not a social media user and that my project is more about stowing than sharing (Fig. Picture of a picture I have taken of my artist friend Florian Mehnert with whom I have tried to keep in touch over the years. This photo once edited will be included as the first one of the month production associated with the German artist who ironically is fiercely against data capitalism).

FRIENDS 12/12 In an ideal exhibition the collection of photos of my life acquaintances should be display maintaining the idea of a cemetery. Rather than actual graves here I am thinking of drawers, similar to the actual drawers used in cemeteries to store the ashes of a dead person. For each of my acquaintances I intend to set up a physical file containing his or her pictures in a printed format. These files could resemble the old days files kept by whatever secret police, yet the content is most tender and shows the quick aging of people in the course of their brief human lives. The front of these drawers could in fact resemble the marble stones engraving of each acquaintance with their names and date of birth and death but also a small oval photo of them. As in an actual cemetery a ladder with wheels can be used to explore the archive (Fig. Rendering of the ideal exhibition set up with the wall where the photos of my acquaintances should be presented highlighted in red. In a way this work emphasizes even further that the ideal museum is not my mausoleum but rather a precarious monument of time, an ark carrying life elements which will never be realize and the content of which can be only momentarily grasped. Pictures of myself are in fact missing and I can be only seen more as a support character to my acquaintances rather than the main figure).