The photography of Maurizio Galimberti goes beyond the pure technical dimension to embrace a new way of seeing and feeling reality.
His works are meticulous scans of spaces that welcome, from time to time, people, faces, landscapes, architecture, cities, reassembled fragments following both emotions and extreme compositional rigor. A research that has led him over the years to reveal in his works his own visions, a very personal perspective, the three-dimensional extensions of a curious and attentive gaze which in any case leaves the door ajar to the imagination of the observer.
The poetics of the ready made
On the occasion of the exhibition A look at our history (from 8 October to 27 November at the Palazzo del Podestà in Castell'Arquato (Pc), curated by Denis Curti and organized by the Municipality of Castell'Arquato - Department of Culture and Tourism, with the support of the Ecclesial Cultural Heritage Department of the Diocese of Piacenza-Bobbio and the Piacenza Vigevano Foundation) we interviewed him to talk with him about his way to take pictures and ask him how this exhibition itinerary was born, which analyzes some icons of our recent history and, "through the poetics of the ready-made, restores new strength to well-known and perhaps too radicalized images" (Denis Curti).
What is photography for Maurizio Galimberti? What is the power of him, what is the message of him?
Photography is my life. I have dedicated and dedicate all of myself to this passion which later became my profession as a photographer and artist attentive to the history of art and experimental research. Through the photographer's gaze, even a trivial object can become poetry, a communicative message, take on an important aesthetic charge.
The first shot of you: the exact moment in which this passion was born?
I was nine, maybe ten years old and, with my family, we went to lunch on Sundays in a restaurant in Brianza near Erba. I had a simple camera, an AGFA Optima that shot in 24x36: my first photograph was of relatives at the table in that restaurant. Then, having become familiar with that rudimentary camera, I went to construction sites with my father, and even on those occasions I took my first photos.
What aspect of your work do you like most?
In this period I am making a series of portraits: I have done many in the course of my career, yet they always manage to surprise me for the movement, the rhythm, the freshness. The thing that still surprises me about myself is the ability to renew myself, not to ghettoize the work in an automatic format, to restore contemporaneity in every shot, raising the bar without sitting on my laurels with ever-new planning.
Coming to the contents: how is the subject (people, landscapes, architecture, cities) chosen to shoot?
It depends. Sometimes they are projects that arise from my passions. At the moment, I have in mind a work on living Italian philosophers as a tribute to a discipline that has always fascinated me but I have never delved into it. Then there are subjects, such as history, which I approached thanks to a friend, Paolo Ludovici: approaching the historical theme with him, choosing the subjects together, the photojournalist who was in me and who has never been in the area emerged. of war or to make photo chronicles around the world. With this type of content, I try to remove the dust from the story, to filter it through my vision by caressing it. Each subject and each theme I choose by passing through images that already exist, making them contemporary frescoes of a past history. It is the concept of Duchamp's ready-made (ready-made subjects, already packaged by others, extrapolated from their context and made a work of art through the simple selection by the artist, Ed.).
Art and photography: in your works, the expressive possibilities of photography go beyond the technical dimension and address that of seeing and hearing. Who are the inspiring muses of your photographic 'poetics'?
The most evident, in the mosaics and portraits, are Umberto Boccioni and Marcel Duchamp. Dynamic whirlpools of lines and shapes evident in Boccioni's "City that rises", but also in many futurist works from Balla to Depero. Then clearly, Duchamp's “Nude descending the stairs”, where the subject is still, immobile and, through the artist's scanning, acquires movement. That's the way it is for me too: thanks to the rhythm I can give it, the work comes alive. On a conceptual level, other references are artists such as Man Ray, Pablo Picasso, Francis Bacon, Alberto Giacometti, Alighiero Boetti, Domenico Gnoli, to get to photographers like Robert Frank.
Once you defined yourself as a 'musician', because you like to see reality as a score to be filled: playing the space with photography and using the mosaic as a score ... How much of the compositional exercise marked by the rhythm, characteristic of music, do you return to your photography?
When I create a mosaic, unlike the works of David Hockney who cut out reality as if he were doing it with scissors, giving it an inner movement, I expand the scene a lot: I make a landscape of 50 tiles become 250, I multiply it. It's a bit like Glenn Gould did in Bach's “Goldberg Variations”: in 1955 he played them in 35 minutes, in 1981 in 51 minutes. Those 16 minutes are "he" who interprets the music, expands it, lives in it, makes it part of himself. Music as an expansion of space, music as notes that you decide whether to play or not to play, and on which score (small, large, dense, fluid). It is like embracing the rhythm and tempo of a music that repeats itself, rises and falls.
Why this exhibition? Where did the A look at our history project come from?
It arises from the desire to convey to people, through a particular gaze, the sense of history, so as not to make it forget. History is painful, it sowed death and destruction. History has also made us dream through myths of cinema and sport. I want to witness it by re-reading it, communicating to the viewer the meaning that that episode, that character represent. Doing this made me grow in terms of planning, it made me become more meticulous, more professional. It was a challenging but beautiful adventure that I would also like to involve the younger audience, who have not witnessed past events and moments that have nevertheless become iconic and remain profoundly current.
In this exhibition you give new life and new meanings to shots made by other authors: how do you deal with a passage of this type?
Surely you need boldness, a healthy cheek towards copyright rules. I took the work of others, made it mine and returned it completely new filtered by my vision. Italo Calvino argued that "you can rewrite what already exists". This removes dust from history, stories, events and brings them back to our contemporaneity. Today history needs to be re-born from history itself, from everything that preceded us. By doing this, I don't invent anything new, I just describe. This, for me, wants to be a message of love towards all of humanity.
What is striking looking at his works are the rigor and precision: what do they depend on and how are they obtained?
It all comes from my mania. In my work I am extremely precise and rigorous in the assembly, in the composition, nothing is left to chance. It takes a lot of patience through work that becomes a sort of meditation on oneself.
When did you first grasp the potential of instant photography (Polaroid, Fuji, Impossible Project) and what could be done that was so atypical, unusual, particular?
At one point I no longer went to the darkroom because I no longer wanted to be in the dark for a series of memories related to when I was a child. So I started making Cibachrome (it is a positive-positive color printing process, i.e. from film to paper that does not require the use of a dark room, Ed) which allowed me to work in a bright environment. But then I realized that I wanted to do something other than Cibachrome which had too cold and flat colors, so I started using the Polaroid which at the time was an instant and creative camera that gave me great satisfaction. In the same period I started studying the history of art and I realized that the two interacted a lot. Instant photography has become my life format.
In his work there is a problem of archiving and conservation of fragile and delicate supports, which can easily deteriorate. How do you protect your photos?
All my photos are scanned and stored in a digital archive for press offices, collectors etc. The original must be stored with care, the important thing is not to expose it to direct sunlight. The ideal would be to put a museum glass anti U.V. to protect the photo in a controlled light environment. Then a lot depends on the film: the Fuji (this whole exhibition is made with Fuji films) have, like the Polaroids, a fantastic resistance. Once stabilized, in 100 years, the Fuji will still be perfect, while Polaroid is more delicate but capable of making photos like a painting, like a dream, and even more Impossible. I have lost many of them, but the fragility of those photos is magical, fascinating, it allowed me to obtain effects, sometimes also due to chance, which are wonderful. An imperfection that excites. And this is a bit of the meaning of life which is wonderful, fragile and imperfect at the same time.