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For the series called Restrain, a work in progress, the posing sessions take place in a completely obscured studio, in the dark (a camera obscura).
The subjects are lying on the floor, before a black background, the camera is high, upright over their face. So the axis eye-viewfinder-lens-subject disappears; I go sideways, so I don’t have the precise control over the framing; I literally can’t see, and my eye is disassociated from the image which is going to take shape; similarly, the subject can’t see the photographer and can’t return any gaze.
The shooting time is about 15 seconds; in this time I enlighten the face of the subject with a small flashlight, going several times over it, as if it were a paint brush. The impossibility to control precisely the light forces me to repeat the shooting again and again; so the action of my arm grows increasingly aware, confident and fluid, no longer steered by my eyes, but by a sort of memory inside my own body. This action suits the face and body of the person who is there with me. The photographic action – usually associated to the action of moving the camera closer to the eye, of framing and pushing the button – is then brought back to its etymological exactness: this action paints through the light and the obtained images are literally photo-graphies, writings of the light.
These images have never existed in real time, because no face was ever simultaneously light up as it appears at the end of the process: they are unseen pictures.
Sometimes in the set the long duration of the session and of the individual poses can lead to a sort of detained abandonment, a focused calmness; then it seems to me that these portraits are a trace, not so much of the features of a face, but of our own being there, as if they were the mould of some experience. The photographs follow one another in silence, each of them is a small epiphany.
Restrain (2012-)
Lambda print on Dibond + wooden frame – cm 30×40
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