It all began a year ago, when Gianluca Vassallo was invited to create a photographic project dedicated to the city of Mantua, organised by the Festivaletteratura literary festival. The project was part of a broader and more personal study undertaken by the photographer on the human landscape.
The photographic reportage of the city of Mantua commissioned to Gianluca Vassallo was, on the other hand, created to become the heart of a special publication put together by Festivaletteratura entitled “Almanacco 2020”. The Almanac is a collective volume that welcomes the contributions of more than one hundred and sixty authors participating in the literary festival in 2020, a unique and unprecedented year. Indeed, a year when social distancing and the suspension of all events had a profound impact on the world of culture.
Starting on June 12 of this year, the images created for the “Almanacco 2020”, together with other materials, have become the protagonists of the exhibition entitled "Soliloqui - Mantova negli scatti di Gianluca Vassallo"(Mantua in Gianluca Vassallo’s shots). With the exhibition, culture is finally able to physically take hold again of the city’s spaces, doing so through the gaze of an artist who uses the observation of the urban landscape as a means to read the human landscape. Through his images of streets, squares and city landscapes, Vassallo returns the portrait of a Mantua hit by the pandemic, but also eager to restart and to take back control of its future.
To capture the images of a “suspended” city, where human presence is minimal or barely visible, the photographer has chosen the expressive power of black and white. Every other chromatic distraction has thus been eliminated, allowing a dense web of evocative imagery and emotions to emerge from the architecture, the landscapes and the city’s monuments, through the eternal play of lights and shadows.
“In the Soliloqui work”, writes Emanuela Manca in the exhibition's curatorial notes, “Gianluca Vassallo interprets and narrates the city in its organic and urban nature, as a physical incarnation of the social structure and as an act of power, a paradigm of human life, but at the same time dehumanising. The viewer is able to perceive a condition of emptiness and suspension of meaning, which underlies the intimate reflection that the author knows how to translate into images of great austerity. The formal choices are, in fact, essential and closely measured, based on a visual minimalism of exceptional composure. Each portion of the framed reality leaves room for the imagination, expressing, with great conviction, a metaphorical and evocative quality. Gianluca Vassallo’s visual architecture appears to exist in a provisional dimension: between objectivity and subjectivity, an oblique territory among the truth of the places examined and the author’s vision. A photograph that inhabits the world.”
The exhibition organised by Festivaletteratura and by the Fondazione Palazzo Te, with the support of the Fondazione BAM and Foscarini, will be open to the public until September 12 in the halls of Palazzo Te. The event will thus anticipate and then become one of the events of the 25th edition of Festivaletteratura, set to take place in the Lombard city September 8 to 12.
To close this perfect circle, during Festivaletteratura 2021, Gianluca Vassallo will hold a photographic laboratory, an opportunity to share his unique way of observing the urban landscape with the public.
Images courtesy of Festivaletteratura, photo by Gianluca Vassallo
Title: SOLILOQUI / Mantova negli scatti di Gianluca Vassallo
Location: Tinelli di PALAZZO TE / Viale Te, 13 – Mantua
Date: June 12 - September 12, 2021