I recently bought three books of the collection “Maledetti Fotografi” that contains all their 2014, 2015 and 2016 interviews to famous international photographers: this is actually a great resource to me since it allows me to read their opinions related to different topics.
Into the 2015 book I found and interesting interview to the Italian photographer Settimio Benedusi, who was discussing the idea of Photography to solve problems. This was definitely something important to read in relation with my current practice, due to the fact that I am using this medium as a way to enhance a more open discussion about psychological and social problems, such as anxiety disorder, social anxiety, negative emotions and depression, in order to help myself, my sitters and, potentially, my viewers in overtake those feelings and situations through a “visual dialogue” that might generate a deeper sense of empathy among individuals. To me this is a way to help to solve those problems.
Benedusi is not only a commercial photographer, “to maintain myself” (Benedusi, 2017) as he says in his Bio: he is a journalist, a Photography professor at the IED Institute in Milan and successfully manages many workshops and seminars. In his 2015 interview he said that on Internet there is a lot of Photography, but that he is annoyed to see it used for futile reasons, just for aesthetic purposes and nothing more. He stated that being a commercial photographer his opinion might sounds strange, but that he believes that Photography founds its meaning when it serves a scope, when it is used to investigate the world: unless it becomes meaningless. Basically, he stated that also in his more commercial works he tries to provide viewers with the deeper meaning that he is portraying: no matter if he is shooting a beautiful model, an actress or a sport-professional.
Very interesting his 2009 work “Amnios”. It represents a sequence of nine images of a model emerging from the water, connecting concepts like sea, water and amniotic liquid to recreate a sort of rebirth. He exposed these images into a dark room, asking his audience to illuminate them with a flashlight: in this way viewers had an active role, transforming a simple exhibition into a more “collaborative” process. By enlightening those portraits they actually made the model rebirth, looking for her into the room, almost “re-photographing her” (Benedusi, 2009).
Settimio Benedusi, “Amnios”, sequence of nine images, Slideshow, Exhibited at Fotoincontri, June 2009, 70×100 prints. ©Settimio Benedusi, 2009.
Looking at this series I wondered how I would have faced the sequence and I realised that I would better represent what I am currently doing and myself, at the same time, by reversing it, by making the model disappear into the sea, probably photographed from behind. Something that I might consider to portray in the future, even if with a completely different style since Benedusi’s does not represent me as practitioner and individual. At this stage, I think, it is important to have a strong visual identity and these images would not absolutely match with mine.
He also made an interesting analysis related to the use of texts to support the photographic image since, he said, “We appreciate only what we understand” (Benedusi, 2015). He basically explained that a text can better define the subject matter, what the author has in his mind. I absolutely agree with his position, this is why I opted to support my imagery with texts to provide a stronger context of consumption to my viewers and allow them to deeper analyse what they are actually observing.
Lastly, he made and interesting observation: to photograph means solving problems, a photograph it is not simply a photograph itself, but to create such a thing we need a proper cultural background, to properly plan and to have a strategy. We need to understand what is behind a fact to represent it. Why do Benedusi words mean so much to me? Because he ultimately defined those intents behind my project “I can hear you now”, the research that supports it, the path I am undertaking, its collaborative approach and those meanings behind my collaboration with artists, psychologists and other professional to analyse and represent its subject matter.
Benedusi Settimio, official website http://www.settimiobenedusi.com/
Benedusi Settimio, Amnios, Settimio Benedusi Photographer-Blog, June 2009 issue http://www.benedusi.it/blog/amnios/
Ratto Enrico, Settimio Benedusi: fotografare è risolvere dei problemi, Maledetti Fotografi, October 2015 issue http://www.maledettifotografi.it/interviste/settimio-benedusi/
Ratto Enrico, Settimio Benedusi: fotografare è risolvere dei problemi, 2015, Maledetti Fotografi, 2015 Interviews’ Collection, Maledetti Fotografi, Italy, printed in Poland by Amazon Fulfillment. (Maledetti Fotografi: All rights reserved) pp. 17-22.