Lo Zuavo Scomparso.
Photographs by Paolo Ventura.
Punctum, 2012. 54 pp., 33 color illustrations, 12¼x10".
Signed copies available!
Paolo Ventura comes to Rome in the guise of a vanishing Zouave, trailblazer for his views of the city. For Ventura, the city is a two-hundred-year-old milieu through which he walks, inserting two new things: a cloud-packed sky in place of the classic white sky, and the relationship between true and false, with a few sets in which the real element is blended with reconstructions of it. That the first element of change is the sky says a great deal about the artist’s capacity to dream; it is as if he had begun his study of the city by observing it from the clouds.
Real and reconstructed exteriors alternate with Roman interiors, with little references to the city only occasionally hinted at (the Vittoriano monument, a few cupolas).
It all moves forward, then, with the two new elements, the insertion of the “true” and the cloud-filled sky, added to Ventura’s usual elements – the sets, reconstructions and suspended atmospheres – that recourse to a sort of freedom typical of dreams, where nothing need be justified. But everything springs from yet another new thing, which is the “disappearing”. In one of our conversations, Ventura said of this “disappearing” element: “Disappearance is extraordinary because it leaves everything open – if the body can’t be found, the disappearance lets imagination run wild – you imagine something, but death is death! Yes, I liked the idea of having someone disappear. I chose the Zouave mainly because he’s a timeless figure, in the sense that for me, he’s in the category of figures like priests and military policemen who, because they never change, can be placed in any place and any time and still be recognizable. They have clothes that become costumes, like clowns. I like these figures that live in a non-time” (1). In his non-time, Ventura tells stories, constructing complex relationships between reality and fiction, taking all the liberties that these relationships allow him, and taking all the liberties of Rome. And at the end of our conversation, he explains the relationship: “I always tend not to emphasize too much the fact that it’s fake; that is, I’m interested in saying it and showing how I construct it, but for me the idea becomes the result… that it’s fake, that it’s not real, doesn’t matter… what matters is the suggestion it creates for you. (…) Because, as I told you, fortunately the meaning of photography is getting completely lost, the result is the point” (2).
(1) Marco Delogu, conversation with Paolo Ventura, Lo Zuavo Scomparso, Punctum, Roma 2012.