MANTUA THE DREAMER
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(english version below) "Mantova la Sognatrice" ha lo scopo di presentare la citta' attraverso immagini che ne descrivano l'atmosfera invece che le attrazioni artistiche e naturalistiche di cui gia' esistono molte testimonianze.
L'idea nasce dalla teoria di Roland Barthes secondo cui un soggetto, quando fotografato, diventa oggetto. Mantova infatti, nelle fotografie a cui siamo abituati, si presenta come un bellissimo oggetto da ammirare. La mia Mantova rimane, invece, soggetto, assurge ad entita' che detta la realta' in cui gli abitanti vivono. Ed e' proprio questa realta' che ho voluto immortalare, fatta si di palazzi e monumenti, ma anche di nebbia, acqua, colori ed emozioni.
Persone e monumenti, cioe’ qualsiasi cosa sia “riconoscibile” non sono mai il soggetto principale delle fotografie ma sono parte integrante della realta’-sogno descritta: il mio progetto infatti nasce dal desiderio di far conoscere quella che e’ Mantova per come la vivono i suoi abitanti, che, nel loro quotidiano, si “dimenticano” delle bellezze artistiche e naturali della citta’.
Le fotografie che compongono il progetto sono 37 e descrivono una giornata tra la citta', i laghi e la campagna. Se una colonna sonora dovesse accompagnare la collezione, sarebbe quella di “Fantasia” della Walt Disney, con la Danza delle Ore durante il giorno e L’Apprendista Stregone per la notte.
I testi che accompagnano le fotografie sono scritti nella forma di diario come se fosse Mantova stessa, il soggetto appunto, a scriverli.
Stampe analogiche - camera oscura - da negativi 35mm bianco e nero e colore (alcuni cross-processed).
Testo introduttivo che accompagna la prima immagine:
Roland Barthes sosteneva che un soggetto, quando protagonista di una fotografia, diventa oggetto. Ma se io fotografo gli oggetti creati dal soggetto? In questo modo dovrei essere in grado di raccontare il soggetto senza farlo diventare oggetto...
È proprio l’inizio del giorno. Chissà se Aldous L. Huxley, quando ha detto che ‘Mantova è la città più romantica al mondo’, camminando per la campagna, aveva visto la nebbia della mattina salire lentamente. Chissà se sia rimasto col fiato sospeso finché non ha visto i primi filari rivelarsi in lontananza ed a quel punto abbia sorriso, finalmente certo che anche quel giorno la città si sarebbe rivelata nella sua bellezza.
Chissà se si sia domandato come mai la nebbia inglese (perché è da così lontano che arrivava) non sembri mai come un sipario che protegge il palcoscenico quando gli attori non sono ancora in posizione, pronto ad essere tirato e rivelare la magnifica sceneggiatura, ma piuttosto un drappo pesante che voglia coprire qualche misfatto.
Deve aver pensato, proprio in quel momento che non è ancora giorno ma nemmeno più notte, di assistere alla creazione di un sogno. E deve anche aver pensato che se si fosse concentrato poteva contribuirvi, a quel sogno, aggiungere qualche elemento, cambiare qualche colore.
Ed aveva ragione.
Text accompanying the images (all):
Roland Barthes asserted that a subject, when photographed, becomes an object. But what if I photograph the objects created by the subject? In this way I should be able to narrate the subject without transforming it into the object...
It is just the beginning of the day. I wonder if Aldous L. Huxley, when he stated that “Mantua is the most romantic city in the world”, walking through tha land, saw the fog of the morning rising up slowly. I wonder if he held his breath until he saw the first rows of trees showing in the distance and if he smiled in that moment, finally certain that also that day the city would have revealed its beauty.
I wonder if he asked himself why the English fog (it was from that far that he came) never resembles a curtain that protects the stage when the actors are not yet in position, ready to be lifted to reveal the magnific scenery, but it always looks like a heavy fabric that wants to cover some misdeed.
He must have thought, in that very moment when is not day yet but is not even night anymore, that he was witnessing the creation of a dream. And he must have thought that if he concentrated enough he could have contributed to that dream, he could have added some elements, changed some colours.
And he was right.
...a world asleep in a warm light (Charles Baudelaire)...paradise of melancholy (Corrado Alvaro)...beauty orchestrated in the dream (Guido Piovene)...surrounded by solitude as a destiny (Orio Vergani)...full of an apparent provincial gladness (Alfredo Panzini)...religious sense suspended between the furrows and the sky (Michele Saponaro)...MANTUA IS A WORLD (Corrado Alvaro)
6000 years ago there were no words, there were no cities, there were no meanings and there were no cemeteries.
There were though, two young people who decided to remain here, holding each other, looking at the rising sun.
(Two corpes, holding each other, from 6000 years ago have been found in Valdaro, Mantua, in 2007)
The city is awake but prefers to stay at the window guessing who will be the first person passing by, what will happen.
In 1928 Gabriele D’Annunzio wrote the motto of the Canottieri Mincio for Azeglio Mondini: persevering you will arrive.
In 1931 Learco Guerra followed him by the letter.
In Mantua we always recognise wise advice.
(In 1931 Learco Guerra won the world championship of bicycling and the first ever “maglia rosa”)
Here Manto has cried and with her drops has surrounded the city with profetic water. Those drops still shine for everyone who wants to see them.
(Legend of the creation of Mantua)
Memories of the life in Mantua never abandon the soul, nor does the fierce parochialism. We all very well know the flaws of the city. But we only can call them flaws.
There are migratory species of birds that in the last few years have preferred to stay here in winter too. Maybe it is the cuisine!
A long time ago the city has been adopted by the water that has made of it a peninsula. For this reason its shape reminds of a human heart, at the top left in the body of Italy.
Cars run along the lake attracted by the smell of the lunch. In the opposite direction, only a stranger who lost his way ravished by the colours.
It is at this time when one can see the hidden corners of the city, the secret gardens. This is when a pipe can turn into a magic wand.
Under the dog-days, when the smell of coffee envelops every kitchen, if you listen carefully, you can hear the buzzing of an engine that goes around 330km/h. He used to be called “the flying Mantuan”.
(In 1935 Tazio Nuvolari established the record of 330,275 km/h)
During the siesta, the palace of the lucid deceptions looks like a wild beast resting under the sun.
Almost motionless. Heavily breathing.
It watches over the country behind and the city spreading in front.
(In 1976 Amedeo Belluzzi wrote “the palace of the lucid deceptions” about Palazzo Te)
In Mantua the rythm of life is not slow, it is gentle. It is gentle with the body, with the mind and especially with the dreams.
h.16.20 _ The Renaissance, with its most beautiful fleur-de-lis, resided here.
And here have grown champions, poets, matemathicians and a Prime Minister. And 5 cardinals didn’t give us a Pope!
(The fleur-de-lis is a reference to Isabella D’Este, the Prime Minister has been Ivanoe Bonomi in 1922 and Ercole Gonzaga has not been made Pope for 5 votes in the Conclave of 1559)
h.17.00 _ Thoughts, words, and crumbs from the bread eaten at lunch transit on the Rio towards a new dimension.
Flowers from the balconies look at their reflections in the water, smiling at Loto and singing her disgrace.
(The legend says that a young man, whilst travelling through the Far East, met a beautiful girl who smelled like loto flowers. Arrived in Mantua, one day the beautiful lady fell in the lake. The young man then threw in the lake some seeds of loto for he could always remeber her)
It is said that the women of the Mantuan plain and the city are “strong women with strong thoughts, masters and spouses, virile women, those who understand the man and remind you of the sovereign motherhood” (Corrado Alvaro)
Princes and farmers of the Mantuan plain have always shared the same spirit of sacrifice, tenacity and pride. From Francesco II Gonzaga to the Martyrs of Belfiore, to the “Little Brazil”.
(From 1958 to 1962 the Mantua Football Club, headed by Edmondo Fabbri, gained the title of “Little Brazil” for they played by memory and divinely)
The gates close and behind them gardens of memories extend...
Charles Dickens wrote that King Midas’ secret would have been extensively known, if that servant of his who whispered it to the reeds, had lived in Mantua “where there are reeds and rushes enough to have published it to all the world”.
Secrets in Mantua don’t exist...untill darkness falls!
The brief moment when day and night meet is a kingdom of magic. Transit towards other places, bus to the unknown.
The moon modifies the shapes of castles, towers and palaces that stretch towards the sky and sigh to the upcoming darkness.
Charon’s trip stopped here.
Here he used to unload the death souls and quickly leave.
h.22.20 _ There is no world without Verona’s walls
But purgatory, torture, hell itself.
Hence-banished is banished from the world,
And world’s exile is death.
(William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, act III, scene III, verses 17-20)
It smokes, it smokes, the night works, scatters dreams and nightmares around, asking the fog to be its messenger on the ground.
Sometimes, at night, only a few lights can be seen. You need to get closer to know what there is over there...
It is the ghost of the King of the Devils!
(In France, during the carnival of the year 1584, Tristano Martinelli, a Mantuan actor, was crowned King of the Devils thanks to the character that he had invented: Arlequin)
They are the Lanzichenecchi at the doors!
(In 1630, during the war of the 30 years, the German emperor sent to Mantua an army of 36000 lanzichenecchi, mercenaries, who ransacked the city and spreaded the plague)
At this time of the night it is easy to misjudge. Beauty and ugliness depend upon the favour of the moon.
We are alone during the day as we are during the night. But at night there is no one to remind you of that.
It is the darkest hour. Fortunately the devil’s shift is not in Mantua tonight.
Trotting from a tower to the other, the moon heads back home, abandoning behind the souls of the darkness.
Ten angry fingers that crack the keys of a piano. A bowstick that slides shrill on the strings of a violine. Glass vases that crush on the marble.
The alarm clock...
In a bit...not yet...
The last sigh from the souls of the darkness.
And then silence.
The mind slips away on the bus that returns from the black of the night and the white of the dreamt desires.
Several military leaders came to Mantua. Some to glorify it, others to ransack it. Successions to power have been countless but to the General or to the poet who arrived from far, the city has always revealed itself like this: in its most beautiful dress.
Legend, history, colours, perfumes, city and land blend in Mantova. Here time looses hours and space looses ground to thoughts.
Today is another dream.