Gianluca Vassallo, director, photographer and artist, talks about the 30-year partnership between Ferruccio Laviani and the lighting company Foscarini with the artistic photographic project Notturno Laviani.
A free and independent narrative, an unconventional interpretation of light, and at the same time an intimate and original portrait of the Cremona-born designer: "I reflected on the man behind the designer", says Vassallo.
An evocative journey, in which the lamps are photographed at twilight in alien and alienating contexts: such as Orbital, the lamp-sculpture which in 1992 initiated the collaboration between Laviani and Foscarini, immortalized under an overpass, or as a Tuareg portrayed among the work tools of a blacksmith, Tobia taken at a bus stop in a windy night, or even as a Dolmen, almost abandoned in a service station with cellophane-wrapped pumps.
Each shot is a story, in which the artist sometimes speaks of waiting and suspension, at others of redemption and rebirth, of the transition from darkness to light, of hope.
A story that is never didactic, which does not want to reassure - "I don't want to be reassured by beauty", underlines Vassallo - but which shakes, moves, questions, brings back sensations and memories , even the roughest, offering us the opportunity to interpret and experience light in an intimate and personal way.
A research visible from the month of November in the Foscarini Spazio Monforte in Milan and Spazio Soho in New York.
Gianluca Vassallo talks about Notturno Laviani
"The title comes from the desire to tell the light of twilight, the exact moment in which the day goes out and the night begins to light up.
A moment of grace for the products that Laviani has designed for Foscarini because, alive with colour, at dusk they retain the last thread of light on their surface and add it to that of the lamps, but also because the night is the moment of sedimentation of thought, the moment in which everything, information, culture, the present, lose weight and become clearer, in a full lightness that nourishes us with meaning.
And after all, what are Laviani's objects if not this, experiments of full lightness".
Unlike Vite, the 2020 project in which Vassallo portrays Foscarini's lamps in domestic contexts, in real houses, here instead the artist chooses alien places, forgotten warehouses, former supplies of petrol, desolate countryside
"Exactly as for Vite, the products are lowered into a space of reality, but unlike that project, which makes real life its heart, here reality is a dreamlike space, full of possibilities.
The seemingly desolate countryside, for example, is home to two World War II bunkers transformed into hay storage: from a war building to a place that protects food, in short, from darkness to light. And in every scenario there is a story, alive".
Vassallo photographs Orbital, the lamp-sculpture that in 1992 gave life to the collaboration between Laviani and Foscarini, almost abandoned on the motorway, in front of an overpass covered in graffiti and posters
"The Orbital is one of the most beautiful objects of the twentieth century. Now, I'm nobody to say it, I'm just a photographer and certainly not a design historian, but this ability to be a ironic and rigorous at the same time project is extraordinary.
It immediately made me think of the covers of Bruno Munari for the notebooks of Gianni Rodari, I speak of the spirit, obviously, not of the object, and thinking about my childhood, the time spent with those books, the smell of the circus came to mind.
The photo is under an overpass where the posters of Darix have resisted over the years, one of those provincial circuses that populate this wonderful country, which I would like less of ours, and more of the world. Just like the circus."
In Notturno Laviani Vassallo alternates indoor and outdoor shots, as if to restore the private and public dimension of light
"I understood that my fundamental research (not planned at all) is centered on the attempt to define a borderline beauty, on the will to learn from what I do and, therefore, on the instinctive refusal to reproduce harmony compositional and significant.
I don't want to be reassured by beauty, I desperately want to look for something that moves me, because only in this way can I respect the freedom that Foscarini offers me, trying to participate in what it means to tell light today.
And in short, this measured expressive torment of mine has a public and 'political' dimension, but also an intimate one, rather than a private one, in which light has an agitating role".
Indoor and outdoor photographs that also tell the personality of Laviani, sunny and social but also deeply intimate
"The truth is that Laviani and I haven't talked about the project. But I feel his esteem, the respect for my gaze and, of course, he sees mine, in the delicacy with which I try to approach to his work.
The silence of men like this, for me, the ability to let things go, is worth more than many conversations".
Speaking of Laviani, Vassallo adds: "His double soul made me remember the light that I have always imagined listening to Ivano Fossati's A night in Italy"
"I listened to him, Laviani, in a beautiful conversation with Beppe Finessi at Festivaletteratura in Mantua, and while he was talking about himself, with that fear of saying too much about himself but with the politeness of someone who knows one another well, I told myself that in order to make light, one must know how to see it in things, and he seemed to have seen it in his story.
When I left, Fossati's song resounded in my head, the precision of the emotions he recounts, with everything he doesn't say. Just like Laviani's production for Foscarini, which is always 'missing' something, because in this way that light can speak to you, just like this:
It's a night in Italy you see
This cut of the moon
Cold as any blade
It is as great as our fortune
Which is the fortune of those who live now
This wandering weather
This running night
And the future that comes
To give us a break.