Mario Giacomelli. His work.
Using technique to pursue the idea he wants to achieve, considering the camera as part of his body (he says: “as the extension of my idea”), Giacomelli applies his creativity to what could be called “ways of escaping rules”, to achieve an extreme use of the camera, subsequently converted by him according to specific needs, breaking the way of using it. The camera becomes a mechanism to deconstruct the real or to deconstruct the common ideal of a static real.
The photographic production becomes a continuously changing system, a set of intercommunicating parts, a living system: each series realized is not a closed chapter. In fact the photographer repeatedly redefines his series, recuperating certain images, and words of an old discourse, which are revitalized in a new one, as if to breathe life into things thanks to this excuse called Photography.
The photographs of the maturity phase reveal a Giacomelli performer, important element of the artist’s journey, a highly ritual process where the repetitive gestures assume a symbolic value, and in this ritualism the photographic discourse produces a performative effect. Hence the photographic image, far from being a snapshot of the contingent, harbors and emanates a certain solemnity, also because the meaning which the artist assigns to it, refers to an absolute dimension of a place with no time and therefore eternal, in which he places himself: the photography is an “alibi” the artist uses to inscribe himself in the world. And the self-portrait element that closes his artistic journey seems to be the necessary passage in the long run, in the fusion between act and word, life and art.
The photographer pro-duces the image, in the sense that he brings it out from the bowels of his own existence in order to make it visible to himself, being the reason why he defines himself a spectator, and in doing so he follows a precise pattern, his ritualized method. This way of being both author and spectator makes Giacomelli so contemporary: in abandoning the Object, as well as in the purely subjective intervention, the artist finds himself before his creativity like in front of a mirror.
It is clear then that Giacomelli’s photography is not declaring “this happened in a certain place at a certain time”, as happens for a reportage photograph, instead it absorbs from within its subjects/meaning taken merely for their interrelations: they are continually moved (when the artist moves his subjects form one print to another through the photograph of the photograph and he superimposes them, obtaining images in which the subjects of the present are placed in a scenery of the past; or when he introduces an old photograph into a new series), modified (in the dark room the artist changes the matter of reality), the subjects are released from their chronological and historical anchorage (they are isolated from their context by the consumed whites, made two-dimensional by the use of flash during the day or the telephoto, isolated with a close cut), to recreate a net, a continuum of signs or symbols. The more the photography is not called to testify, the more the subjects within are free to move as pure meanings, whose sense is given by the many, repeated, remodeled, interrelated; and in this Giacomelli gets closer to the Informal, or better it is for this reason that we can talk of a method in his photographic production.
His systema-tisa-tion of the entire photographic corpus is a creative method that allows Giacomelli to recreate himself continuously in his relationship with Emptiness. In fact at the end of his journey, in the moment he decides to enter, using the self-timer, into the space of the photograph, which is only a desolate, lifeless place, without human subjects, and with the only presence of faux animals and tumbled down houses (in an absolute extreme of the subject/significance). Giacomelli says the intent is to revilitalise the inanimate, and the use of the faux animals and the masks to emphasize the possibility to animate something that would have stayed inanimate without the photography. What does this means? That the artist enters into a “magic” scenery (he often defined photography in these terms) where it is possible to bridge (symbolically) any distance, even the limit of death, since the inanimate acquires another sense in the new order recreated by the photography. It is here, in the place of the emptiness, or of the infinitely re-definable, that the photographer gets so close to the photograph (he who says that to photograph is “to enter under the skin of the real”) as to enter into it himself, by using the self-portrait technique, in his maturity.
(Katiuscia Biondi, Mario Giacomelli. Under the skin of the real, Ed. 24 Ore Cultura 2011)
MARIO GIACOMELLI: MAKING ART. BEYOND THE LAWS OF THE MARKET
Unanimously considered a Master of Photography. Named in 1955 by Paolo Monti “The Man of the New Photography”. His photos are shown since 1964 in the permanent collection of the MoMA in New York and are now preserved in major museums around the world.
Giacomelli has created its own original photographic language: the high contrast of the “eaten” whites and the “closed” blacks, the use of fuzzy and of flash during the day, and of the grain and the expired and consumed film, to get an image not anchored to the real.
The “delight”, as he called the satisfaction in the act of photography, does not come from the realist extraction of the object, but comes from being able to enter, through photography, “under the skin of the real “, where the dictates of the stereotype lose power in the free expression of the unconscious.
Photography as a creation of a space in which one can actualize an introspective ritual, up to reach Abstractism and Poetry. A creative performance that lasts a lifetime, where the individual photos become frames of a continuous path, inseparable elements of a Whole, living testimonies of an intimate contact between the artist and the world.
Mario Giacomelli, a man with an intellectual sharpness beyond any intellectualism, whose charm comes from his astonished gaze on the most humble everyday businesses and its alchemist ability to transmute the matter of reality, used the camera as a kind of magnification lens to get so close to real as to make it the mirror of himself.
This magic of his own, this him being faber, have attracted for half a century in his Tipografia Marchigiana in Senigallia (town which the artist never departed from) a whole world made up of artists, photographers, art critics, gallery owners, curators, writers, etc.
Artist notoriously recalcitrant against the laws and market strategies, Giacomelli did not have the habit nor the intention to sign his works once produced; his pictures are signed at the back (rarely also a recto) only in cases where these are output from his archive for exhibitions, fairs, museums donations, or passed through the hands of dealers, who were themselves to ask the signature. Giacomelli did not indicate the number of circulation of the photo. Giacomelli did not specify the date of the individual photos, dating instead the series in its entirety, for the creation of which he took years.
It’s interesting to emphasize this aspect, in order to be able to see today an undeniable sign of intellectual honesty and rare coherence with his conception of Photography: photographs were conceived by the artist as an indivisible whole, and that of Photography was a parallel space where time (past and present) could be reunified and from which the Lack could be excluded. So, according to his creative intent, he found it impossible and inappropriate to define individual photos through division numerical systems.
Notwithstanding that in his production there is a precise order: the archive is divided by series, with its specimens and negatives, clipboard prints, artist notes about the dating of the series, etc.
The lack of reporting of the circulation number is perfectly inscribed in his creative method: according to him the photographs should be placed in the position of having a “new breath” – as he said -, continuously re-enlivened, and can not be thrown into the limbo of things done and fixed once and for all, pure aesthetic objects for sale.
Giacomelli took continually care of his photographs, which he considered pseudo-living organisms (one can tell by the way he spoke about them, often making them anthropomorphous), placing them in the humus of the series, and revitalizing them over the years (for details see Mario Giacomelli. Sotto la pelle del reale, ed. 24OreCultura 2011), through shifts and couplings that connected all the photos together.
“Photography is not the result of a mechanical thing, but it’s yours, just because it continues. The mechanical means stops, stops and nothing more, but one must understand that once shot, you have not done anything: the real orgasm comes when you choose the image and the thing comes to life from that moment, it begins to breathe, and if you don’t want to kill it you have to develop it in a certain way, then you have to print (I don’t even have a thermometer, because one must also be able to make mistakes, and sometimes the new idea lies in the error), to correct, to modify, to keep it alive. And even when everything seems to be over, it is not, because only by approaching it in a certain way, all that has been done before is canceled to relive another season”
(Mario Giacomelli, from his notes on Photography, 90s).
Hence, when one approaches to a photo by Giacomelli, he should do it with the reverence a testimony of a continuous path of 50 years deserves, an existential journey that Giacomelli made primarily for himself, in a indistinct dimension between life and art.