Francesco Capponi is the second artist hosted in the RESIDENT PHOTOGRAPHER project (click for more info) aimed at the production of 10 “artist postcards” of our city, Rivarolo Canavese.
Francesco Capponi (Perugia, 1976) lives and works in Perugia.
He studied sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts and since his formative years he has worked through the contamination of various artistic languages, among which photography assumes great importance, first of all analogue and experimental. Light is his main research field: Francesco investigates photography in its primitive meaning of “drawing with light” and starting from this assumption he seeks and experiments with new interpretations of the technique trying to keep the dialogue between ancient and contemporary alive and constant . This photographic experimentation also strongly includes the three-dimensionality characteristic of sculpture, which allows him to transform or use the most varied objects as photographic cameras and to create his own optical devices such as pinhole cameras, obscure cameras or magic lanterns. The contamination between sculpture and photography allows him to combine the creative medium to the image in a continuous reciprocity between the two elements that interact with each other in a single work. In his more strictly sculptural works, experimentation sometimes passes through the insertion of kinetic or mechanical elements intended to alter the observer’s approach to the work. By mixing different arts, using ancient and modern techniques together and unable to remain anchored to the two dimensions, Francesco tries to create objects out of time that intrigue and touch the dream side hidden in the viewer.
The project: Of getting lost and finding
“It is difficult to get lost in Rivarolo Canavese.
I should have expected it, after all it is a small town, crossed by a network of streets that cross in an orderly manner without abrupt or unpredictable overlaps.When I arrive in a new place, however, I like to get lost, wander aimlessly looking around to absorb the atmosphere of the place, without knowing anything about the place but listening to what those lands want to tell me. I wanted to narrate this sensation with my project, mix the static images of the architecture on film and create new ones by merging them with the trajectories of my crossing. It is a type of photographic experience that I had already experienced in other cities, where however the ancient medieval alleys easily placed themselves at my disposal to be transformed and reinterpreted in new and unexpected forms.
Rivarolo no, he resisted. It remained anchored to its spaces, its country nobility, its special being by remaining simple, its formal order and its little hidden disorders. This city wanted to tell me more, it wanted me to tell stories and stop and listen to them. The more I looked at the architecture, the more I perceived the discreet presence of the people who created them, I felt the sensation that a country is nothing more than the architectural concretion of the thousands of lives that have crossed it over time, each adding or removing a brick, planting a tree , choosing a way to build one’s own home and life: every life has changed the surrounding landscape with its passage. The more I looked at the architecture the more I thought about the people who had lived and transformed them, I perceived the ghosts of a past time that were projected onto the present.
While stubbornly trying to give shape to the initial idea of my project, getting lost and mixing images with my pinhole camera, I came across a tourist sign placed at the entrance to the municipal park surrounding the Malgrà Castle. The sign recounted the deeds of Dante Meaglia known as “Diogenes”, Partisan to whom the park is dedicated, and printed a photo of a group of Rivarolese Partisans, including Dante Meaglia himself. The photo shows them at the end of the war, posing, everyone looks into the car happy but in some it is easy to see a background of melancholy in the eyes, the gaze of those who are celebrating the victory of a war that they never wanted to fight.
Some have elegant clothes, while others still wear battle clothes, in the group there are young people, old people, men, women and even a priest. Looking at the photo I had the feeling of being in front of ordinary people who had unwittingly found themselves living as a hero, people who would have preferred to continue to lead their simple life – the surveyor like Dante, the seamstress, the priest, the farmer or the entrepreneur – but who instead found themselves fighting to defend their country, their family, their life and fighting for their right to be normal. Ordinary people who did not dream of glory or medals but who involuntarily became heroes only to be able to return to being themselves and to defend themselves from those who prevented them. I felt like these people were looking at me and asking me to get them out of that photo. For a while I tried to ignore them but they stayed in my head, they kept knocking, until I went along with them.
I reprinted their images, cut them out and brought them with me, from that moment they accompanied me on my wandering through the streets of Rivarolo.
Every so often, when I felt an affinity with a place, I would place them on the ground in front of my small handcrafted pinhole camera and re-photograph them in the streets that had been theirs too, in the country they had fought for and loved. Those discreet corners of the city in my photos, however, have become enormous compared to those minute subjects, a world that has grown and changed by the time passed after them, transformed over the years, but also the son of the feeling of those simple heroes who now, in memory, unfortunately , they seem to get smaller and smaller. “