Text and photos by Alessandro Niccolai.
My project titled “Secret Affinities” is focused on Journey, and in particular on my experience of life and work in Japan that was fundamental to my education. It’s divided into three collections of images (one of them taken in Fukushima), since especially 3 are the sojourns in Japan that have left substantial changes in my way of relating to the concept of travelling and… and no… I don’t think I can satisfactorily explain what should be observed and “perceived” in first person. What I can report are the sensations that I feel now, taking advantage of the opportunity to prowl, anonymous, between the works and the visitors. It’s like showing up at the dining table, a table full of food that I have cooked. From starters to coffee nothing is missing. It took time and introspection. I did what I could and I did it in my way. Now I’m here as a mere commensal to capture impressions.
Art always influences me and not at all in a literal form… I mean… I see exhibitions and collections and meet artists, then all this information seems to disappear but I think that everything one feels in his/her life shows up later in the creative process, in some way. Then, if a particular exhibition is too much argumentative and brings issues to life in a way that irritates me who want to see works valued for themselves, I can go home.
Visiting an exhibition of my own creations is completely different. I don’t interpret, I don’t feel… I just remember. I’m curious to understand if what I did is comprehensible or too dense and impenetrable for the viewers, even if, in any case, I’ll not attempt to persuade them… I simply do whatever it is I’m driven to at the time of creating a project. My desire is to communicate not alienate but I can’t pander to the taste of one particular kind of viewers.
Anyway, I was talking about “Secret Affinities” and this day that finds it hard to disappear below the horizon, and it does it with that typical slowness of the summer days, while I wander around looking at the reflections of the lights on the glass picture frames and reconquer step by step my own company. So, together with my rediscovered presence, I stop in front of a photograph, an eruption of light on black ground, a ghost that stretches and jumps on the buildings to take them by surprise. I make a few steps and I see clouds collapsing on me from the soul sky, as if they themselves might have been caught unaware by the emotional strength of which they are guardians and masters. I get away from that land of reflections along a road that leads to a city that immediately turns out to be more colourful, composed of fragments almost immutable, of natural creations. Here the memories seem more vivid, the colours still moist. As I pass, the leaves still seem to tremble on their aqueous double and I think I can hear the sound of the wind through the web of branches on which I fixed (when I took that photo) my gaze and lens in the uncertain light of a twilight. I limit myself to listening… listening to the words of the public. “Have you seen the eyes of this child?”, “What a beautiful backlight!”, “This Niccolai is a visionary!”, “But this is not photography! No detail, white is burnt and black is absolute.”,”This is delicate!”, “I prefer the titles to the works. They are deep!”, “I’m not an expert, but is photographing two shoes art?”, “Look? I hadn’t noticed this detail!”, “But this person vituperates the rule, the norm, the classic. He should go back to study photography and respect the form and the past!”, “Did you hear that man? Should one ask permission from some buried luminary of the industry to create? He should take leave of preconceptions and let the dead rest!”, “Do you think this is also analog? Or is it digital?”.
What most intrigues me is to listen to those who came to give proof of their critical knowledge and ability, and then I try to imagine them busy with the story of a dinner that certainly could not be, in their report, of fish and peas but of noble proteins and fiber. They use words that are incomprehensible, and give my photos bizzare meanings that I myself don’t understand… and what’s more they keep involving my name in their meaningless discussions.
Sometimes, on the other hand, something puts a smile on my face. A great smile. I’m talking about when I get the impression, possibly wrong, who knows, that in someone a photograph of mine is arousing a start of poetry, the impression of a story, the feeling of a past and, on a detail that I had not even noticed, the vision stops to interpret a reality spurred by something that has nothing to do with intelligence and logic.
Now I see in front of me a line of questioning heads, and, behind, other lines that chase and merge each other to get to new questions that arise more and more numerous, as if they had no end. Above, the ceiling enlarges and, on the sides, points downwards enclosing all this thinking. Behind it, stands another head which is a little balding. One moves when I pass and approaches to a photograph to see the details. The flow of the observers focuses on some images more than on others, but anyway seems to divide the spaces with good sense and showing their personal inclinations.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please, on this side some works of great refinement and”… and for a moment I’m tempted to start to afflict the visitors with the usual erudition recited in that typical instructive tour guide voice which often lies on people’s distracted fantasies.
Instead, I keep silent.
I like the silence of the museums. It’s a silence of buzzes. Every now and then someone makes a comment that sounds like a scream in a muggy Sunday of cicadas.
Visit Alessandro Niccolai website to see more photographs.