Palermo as a childhood

Photography

DATE

2001 - 2016

COMMISSION

Personal

LOCATION

Palermo, Italy
In carrying out this long project there were no precise intervals for the shooting sessions. These coincided with my occasional stays in the Sicilian capital, having settled permanently in Milan in 1998. I had already been there since 1991 to study.

In 2001, while I was passing through Palermo, I made my first shot of Palermo as a childhood (I was still unaware of what the project would be). It is a photo of a private madonna with a broken right hand. Apparently money had been stolen from her offering box, as you can read on the wall behind her. I took it with a Yashica bioptic camera, rickety at the time, which had been sitting in a drawer in my father's house for several years. The frame of the photo in question, due to a malfunction of the film advance lever, overlapped slightly with the next one. My uncle had given me this camera as a gift when I was fourteen years old, and in the meantime it had remained unused in Palermo. Before I could use it again, seeing the defect in the specimens, I took it with me to Milan to have it repaired, even the firing gear was out of alignment. With this camera I began to take pictures of Palermo every time I went back, with the idea of making a random photographic project.

I approached the city, seeing it again after a long absence. I photographed in order to rediscover Palermo, trying to possess it, to regain possession of everything that made me nostalgic and that I missed there in the north. I felt this camera more and more as an extension of my gaze, I used it very quickly. The exposure meter didn't work, it was impossible to repair it; I used an external one. I liked to move around with the exposure meter in my pocket and the camera always in my hand (because at that time I hated the shoulder strap) or in a canvas bag, mostly for breaks, or when I ran out of film and went home. Moving in this way gave me a great sense of expressive freedom. I also photographed the gestures of the people of Palermo, which I knew since I had been born there, but living in the Lombard capital, I no longer used to express them.

Sometimes I managed to get so close to people without asking them if I could photograph them that when I looked back at the photo I had taken I felt invisible at the moment of taking the picture. Perhaps it helped that I didn't bring the camera to my eye to frame it, because I had the cockpit and I looked into it, holding it at navel level, and my face remained uncovered. Henri Cartier-Bresson certainly said that if the good Lord had wanted us to photograph with 6x6 bioptics, he would have made our eyes in our stomachs; perhaps this is why in the two following works I felt like reusing the SLRs with viewfinders and shoulder straps with which, in the meantime, I had made my peace.

I took the last shot of Palermo as a childhood in 2016.