At the Photography Calabria Festival the looks that manage to tell us about the present


By John

«The principle of adventure allows me to make Photography exist» wrote Roland Barthes. And by adventure he meant not only interest in the object, in the landscape, in the body to be depicted, but «that inner agitation, that pressure that wants to express itself, in the sense that this photo happens to me, the other doesn’t, that makes me it animates and I animate it. And this is precisely what every adventure does. The same adventure as Photography Calabria Festival, second edition of the widespread photography festival in Calabria, conceived and founded by Anna Catalano, Calabrian from Paola but Roman by adoption, and by the Cultural Association “Pensiero Paesaggio”, which she set up for the organizational and administrative management of the festival.

Inaugurated on July 21st and to be enjoyed until August 20th in Fiumefreddo Bruzio (already site of the first edition) and in San Lucidohistoric centers of the lower Tyrrhenian Cosenza animated by exhibitions, talks (such as «Photography and Artificial Intelligence. What is changing?») and workshops, Photography Calabria Festival is a single big eye through which to look at the world, this year with “The change”, declined from the works of various international photographerseach of which with an original approach to the subject in question.

She is proud of it Catalan: «By also involving the municipality of San Lucido this year, I would like the festival to become the photographic reference point in Calabria over time. We have ten exhibitions, five in San Lucido and five in Fiumefreddo. What is in San Lucido, in the cloister of an ancient convent of Capuchin friars now the seat of the Municipality, is a commissioned, unpublished exhibition on the community and for the community of San Lucido». It is, as he explains again, the site-specific research project curated by two young photographers from the Vaste Programme, Giulia Vigna and Leonardo Magrelli, created exclusively upon invitation of the Calabria Photography Festival 2023: theme, “The family aspects”, which involved the community of San Lucido for «a reflection on the transformations and changes of the collective and individual identity within a community, through visual and technological experimentation».

The starting photos with the old techniques of analogue color photography are decomposed by means of the separation of color plates and then superimposed again with suggestive results in which the common somatic features have probable colors, the different ones are colored in magenta, green, blue it’s red. A new visual language, because, as stated by Catalano e Cosimo De Tommasomayor of San Lucido, «this is a Calabria that wants to believe in more contemporary cultural projects, that loves to support independent projects because all the sponsors, industries, companies and even the Italian post office in Rome leave great freedom in choosing the themes, the photographers and initiatives».

It’s nice to immerse yourself in the ancient streets of the two villages and see how the festival, while concretely rewarding everyone’s commitment, has also valued forgotten or abandoned spaces that have become venues for exhibitions. And for the first time in Calabria, the Istituto Luce Cinecittà has arrived at the Castello di Fiumefreddo Bruzio with its exhibition project created by Archivio Luce Cinecittà, “Interessanti Years”, curated by the audiovisual and media expert sociologist Enrico Menduni, to observe the great social, economic and cultural changes between 1960 and 1975.

But international photographers contacted directly by Catalano arrived in the two centers, others participated remotely in videoconference with the University of Cosenza (Department of Political and Social Sciences, course of studies in Media and Digital Society), from this year partner of the festivals, such as the Austrian Klaus Pichler and his «The petunia’s carnage», a work on the “petunias massacre” which makes us reflect on the consequences of genetic engineering interventions on biodiversity. Together with him, between the two Municipalities, to share a grammar of the image as an ethical principle to keep alive the human way of “seeing”, other exhibitions such as «Cora’sCourage», by the Argentinian Gabo Caruso, which tells the story of the transition social of little Cora, the first case of a transgender girl in Spain; «Island Simmetries» by the English Laura Pannack, which shows the parallels between young people who live on opposite sides of the world; «Wooden Diamonds-Identity Resilience in the Italian olive treeepidemic» by the Italian documentary filmmaker Filippo Ferraro, which tells the story of the xylella epidemic that struck the olive trees in Salento, the collective exhibition of Climate Visuals, the only photography program in the world on the science-based climate change, managed by Climate Outreach, present with «Ocean Visuals», a collection of images on oceans and coasts, launched at COP27.
And, again, «The art of aging», by the Canadian Arianne Clément, which captures the change linked to the theme of the body in black and white; and «TikTok in Kham» by the Tibetan Xiangyu Long, who investigates the metamorphosis of group identities in the context of globalization and homologation, and «Far South» by Michele Martinelli, a project set in the Sila plateaus, following the farmers of podolica .