Porto airport, May 2020. I needed to get back to the UK. I was at the airport for nearly 3 hours and I barely saw anyone. There was stillness and calmness; the scene was as surreal as in the pictures. The text I have written below is in relation to the idea of “non-places”, which are transitory spaces such as airports and hotels, looked at from a sociological perspective and how we inhabit them as humans. I have written my dissertation on the same theme and it is one of the ideas leading my thought as an artist.
After all these years, I might have finally found out: the place in which I feel most at home is not my fatherland or the city I live in, but the transport system that gets me from one to the other, furnished by a team of able in-house designers. I never thought I would miss the obnoxious smell of the Boeing 737’s air filter. Or waiting for hours at the gate’s queue passport-in-hand. Or the very uncomfortable seats or the cubicle toilets, but I now realise that I often found in this and other transitory environments the right setting for creative production. Buses, trains, airports and lounge spaces. Spaces furnished by someone else, cleaned by someone else – non-places. Spaces that would make me feel detached from my own life, and that is a feeling I like: detachment.
The covid-lockdown has created a peculiar separation between inside and outside, and for many of us, the outside has become really unfamiliar. Using scaffolding outside to frame passers by, I took these photographs from my window with the curiosity of this separation in mind.
The scaffolding acts as an urban cover. I can experience the
street as an onlooker, with no fear of being looked at myself. There is an
unsettling power that comes from looking out of a high up window and observing
people below, and an even more unsettling one from taking their photograph.
I found it acceptable
to take pictures of masked people as their identity is hidden, and this also
lends itself to the weirdness that is the outside world during a pandemic. The
curiosity extends; who are these people, where are they going, what do they
do… Why should I know? And then I walk away from the window into the safety
of my indoors.
This series of Polaroids
focuses on Aeducilae, in Italian known as Edicole, which are small structures used as
shrines: niches for sacred statues or images. These function as places of
those who believe in the catholic religion. But also by placing them on the
exterior walls of houses, they are ‘taking over the streets’, they are seen by
everyone, believers or not, and they have become part of the Sicilian culture
in general. Some are big, some are small, they are a very common sight all over
I’ve chosen these as the subject of my documentation as I was
working on a brief about frames. During the lockdown, I’ve had the
opportunity to walk around and examine the frames that were present throughout
my childhood, living in a very religious country such as Italy. After selecting
the shots that would be part of my series, I started questioning whether
the plastic look of the Polaroid wasn’t too ‘modern’ for these ancient frames.
I focused on bringing our culture within the photos by rethinking the Polaroid’s
frame to fit the subject and taking inspiration from the crocheted doilies very
present in our houses. This was done to better represent the cult of these
architectonic structures whose function is as places of cult
themselves. The last image is an extra addition, with a difference within
the series itself, as it is not mounted nor carved into a wall, but is placed
on the rocks in the sea, where the area takes it’s name from another sacred
symbol, ‘Croce di Mare’.
As my starting point, this work became all about exploration for me. At
the time, I was spending a lot of time at my family’s summer place in the
Swedish archipelago. It’s a nature reserve, allowing the nature to stand
untouched; the trees grow tall and the moss covers the ground. It is a special
feeling to be there and since the Corona pandemic broke out it has become an
even more important place for me, where I can escape the craziness back in my
I spent a lot of time out exploring and studying the nature in more
detail, looking for scenes and places I had never seen before. It made me
encounter new feelings that I haven’t experienced earlier. It felt magical, but
at the same time also terrifying and sad because at some point I realized that
there is a possibility that what I have photographed will not always remain. In
a few years, everything could be gone.
As a result, my photographic sequence ‘Come Find Me’ is a series exploring new notions of naturally occurring frames, but also a sequence exploring and documenting the uncertain future of our nature.
When taking these pictures I wanted to capture the banality of everyday life. Something very boring and very simple to create quiet and minimal images. As you can see there is my partner’s butt , some water under my plant , laundry and a coffee stain on my mug.
Think about banality , something that isn’t amazing to start with. How can you frame it to bring poetry to your image.
Try to separate your objects from the background . Place a card behind it or hang a cloth.
If shooting with a DSLR try to use wider aperture to soften the background.
Experiment with exposure time.
Inspiring artists to research … Wolfgang Tillmans and Rinko Kawauchi
No Photoshop was used in the creation of these images. The ‘effects’ were created by rotating the camera during exposure and simultaneously ‘zooming’ (or ‘racking’) the zoom lens. In some images, a little added ‘on camera’ flash was used to freeze the motion in some areas of the image.