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Mantas, Floater, Natural Fortuny, Cochinilla & Kinsaccuchu Dyed Yarn, Wood, Body in Forte di Mezzo, 2019 © Lorenzo Vitturi.
The azure lagoons and golden light of Italy’s floating city have charmed visitors for centuries. Louise Long looks beyond the touristic sites and bustle of the Biennale to uncover Venice’s photographic highlights
Venice is – to lend a phrase from article writer Patrick Leigh Fermor – where I first experienced “rafts of colour”. The peach sky on a dawn lagoon, the slate gray of winter fog, the carmine red of Titian satin, and the rainbow value of Murano’s workshops. Since a child, my first visit coincided with the tail end of the Biennale; at a time before We fully understood its significance.
The place exuded a gentle glow, and I immediately fell under its spell. Standing beneath Bellini’s San Zaccaria Altarpiece, We awoke to the transportive power up of images. I was struck by the trompe l’oeil from the Venice architecture, the warmth of its light and the poetry from the details. “Immersed between stones and water, ” is without a doubt how artist Lorenzo Vitturi [below] represents the city.
As for photography’s story, it is a tale of fantasy and wealth. Venice is where, in 1845, writer John Ruskin uncovered the miracle of the daguerreotype. Four years later, this individual returned with his own digital camera, producing his three-volume study of Venetian architecture, The Stones of Venice . As the decades turned, photographers continued in order to visualise the city – through Tomaso Filippi’s late-19th millennium pictures of Venice in order to Fulvio Roiter’s best-selling photobook Essere Venezia , published in 1978. In the 1980s, the city motivated the salient work from the Viaggio in Italia group, led by Luigi Ghirri.
Today the city fits a select but energetic community of practitioners. You require only to turn to contemporary performers Lucia Veronesi or Kensuke Koike , both of whom test out found and collaged imagery to navigate their connection with the city, to witness its diverse and timeless impact.
Venice’s finest magic is in the everyday and the unexpected: pausing with regard to espresso and sfogliatelle from Pasticceria Chiusso; stumbling throughout perfect herringbone brickwork within the almost-secret Campo de l’Abazio; or an aperitif at dusk among artists and authors in the courtyard of Hotel Aquarius.
In his book 435 Ponti e Qualche Scorciatoia (33 Postcards), photographer David Horvitz asks: “Does a visitor along with only one day in Venice have the time to wander the city? ” I would venture, indeed: for at the very first step, you are enveloped in the enigma from the light and colour.
Fondamenta Zitelle, Giudecca 43, 30133 Venezia
Going over the water to Giudecca, or by foot on the Fondamenta delle Zattere, the ‘three eyes’ of Casa dei Tre Oci are unique. Designed in 1913 by artist Mario de Nancy, the palace is a wonder of neo-Gothic architecture. Offering exhibitions, workshops, talks, portfolio readings and book events, Casa dei Tre Oci is the centre of photographic excellence in the city. Throughout three floors, temporary displays offer space to the loves of Elliott Erwitt, Sebastião Salgado, and René Burri. Currently, the palace will be hosting the largest-ever retrospective (on show until 23 October) of the late French-Swiss photographer Sabine Weiss, that passed away last December. The bookshop is a rich trove too – of art titles, independent publications plus essay collections.
Calle Lunga San Barnaba, Dorsoduro 2729, 30123 Venezia
Among a labyrinth of antique bookshops sits a beacon of contemporary publishing and utilitarian design. Bruno is an oasis of concrete walls, sleek shelving and steel girders – part bookshop, part design studio – wedding caterers to artists, architects, creative designers, and simply the culturally interested. Its thoughtful displays consist of artist books and one-off editions, while its mag stacks buzz with rising and independent titles. No less lively is its occasions calendar of special exhibitions, book launches and readings. In warmer months, local people can be found spilling out on to the street, olives and vino in hand.
“In the final two years people have realised it’s possible to live again within the city, ” says Italian-Peruvian artist Lorenzo Vitturi. In the 1960s, Vitturi’s father – a glassmaker from Murano – left Venice for the purpose of Lima, Peru. There, this individual fell in love with Vitturi’s mom, and the pair returned jointly to Venice. Fifty yrs on, Vitturi is re-enacting the trip: transporting 100kg of glass on numerous expeditions between Europe plus South America for his newest project, Caminantes. Four yrs in the making, the on-going project speaks to the “process of transformation” that comes from social connection. Through photography, sculpture, painting and performance, Vitturi’s collaborations with artisans – including ceramicists, textile artists and glassmakers – conserve the facts of their original localities, while generating new significance. Vitturi was raised between 2 cultures – Italy plus Peru – and has spent the last 21 years living between London and Lagos. But Venice remains main to his artistic mission. Between lockdowns in Come early july 2021, a three-month trip to the city turned into 10. Vitturi found it was the “best moment to come back”, landing a beautiful studio in the vibrant district of Cannaregio – almost impossible in pre-pandemic periods. And while the light, colour plus materiality of Venice have forever been his “teacher”, since 2019, Vitturi’s focus has sharpened on Venetian art history for the first time. 2 decades and a global pandemic later on, “I have been discovering my city, ” he says.
Campo Santa Maria Formosa, Castello 5252, 30122 Venezia
Fondazione Querini Stampalia is, in its own words, a place “in constant flux”. It is a 16th-century palace with original furnishings, frescoes, plus Venetian Old Masters artwork. But since its architectural restorations in the 1950s and 60s, primary has been on its discussion with contemporary art. Within the permanent collection, photography is usually front and centre, with all the archives of Luigi Ghirri, Graziano Arici, Luigi Ferrigno and Mark Smith held there. Also in its collection is Catalan photographer Margarita Andreu’s Entrambi luoghi (Both the places), a photographic series responding poetically to the Fondazione’s architectural renovations.
Calle del Cafetier, Castello 6661, 30122 Venezia
“If Venice could talk, ” says Vittorio Pavan, “it would say, ‘Stop taking pictures, let’s experience me! ’” Pavan, a photojournalist for further than two decades, is custodian of Cameraphoto Epoche, an archive of over three hundred, 000 photographic negatives of the city. He began working on the archive aged 14, and the following 50 years, their appreciation for the collection offers remained steadfast – from your spectacle of celebrity towards the intimate life of Venetians: crafts, boats, Rialto market, and women in Burano making lace. From sun-kissed stars to political protests, sultry night scenes to the dazzling Carnivale, images of Venice may have reached saturation point. But luckily designed for modernday visitors, the historic jewels are in safekeeping at Cameraphoto Epoche.
After years invested working in Milan and Ancient rome, Paolo della Corte has returned to Venice, to a small studio near the Rialto market. He is first in order to admit the artistic issues of the city – associated with falling into “the snare of its beauty”, or creating work that is simply “too aesthetic and banal”. For the moment, he is committed to telling the storyplot of the “contemporary city, through its inhabitants, who are resisting, despite the great difficulties associated with living here”. His projects, (R)existing in Venice plus Venice 2050 DC are both born of this experience – reflecting the state of mind and day-to-day challenges confronted by many kindred spirits.
Fondamenta Borgo, Dorsoduro 1134, 30123 Venezia
LaToletta SpazioEventi is an ambitious brand new exhibition space curated by Michele Alassio. In early 2021, Alassio met Giovanni Pelizzato, owner of the historic Toletta bookshop in Venice. Inside a few months the pair got transformed a warehouse into a world-class gallery, hosting up to nine exhibitions a year of emerging and established performers, as well as the Venice Photo Reward. Alassio jokes how this individual and Pelizzato were born on the same day, 10 years apart, and though they are “opposite characters”, the pair are “perfectly in agreement” over their particular shared vision. Their aim is to forge a community that will comes back to “see the originals”, and leaves with pictures “in your eye and heart, not under your arm or in your suitcase”. From April, the space may host free aperitif early evenings on Fridays, in the rare company of local writers, painters and photographers.