For about 20 years Massimo Vitali’s photographic research develops, unlike that of Peter Bialobrzeski (see previous post), far from the cities from the tumultuous urban development, to concentrate more on those sites which could be defined “for free time”; places, however, characterized by the equally “high resident density,” in some respects identical to that of the cities from which we try to escape.
By careful observation of human society, from the interactions between different individuals, social spaces, the functioning of life, images that portray the ephemeral communities of Vitali, communities which dissolve at sunset to reform the next day in the early morning almost the same at the same location, but also indifferently along the coasts of other seas from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic or in the middle of the Pacific. The artist has defined them as “Natural Habitats”: human colonies, which are formed in the rocks, beaches that more or less gently slope towards the sea, in the parks, swimming pools or in clubs, just as if they were colonies of animals who follow a precise scanning of everyday life, each with their own rhytms.
From the sociological point of view, the systematic search for Vitali, which starting from the coastline of Italian coasts and goes up to the most important locations worldwide, allows us to have a complete and comprehensive portrait of mass tourism and to have a lucid overview of holidays at the time of consumer society. Vitali observes and studies the lives of others from his five-meter platform and this allows him to give his images the same point of view that an ethologist could have while observing colonies of small insects inside a giant glass case; pictures always very neutral and virtually aseptic if observed from afar, but whose strong attraction and curiosity that pushes the observer to watch closely every detail, every plot often portrayed under the dazzling midday sun and in its light, which makes it all a bit milky.
Massimo Vitali’s “contextualised” group portrays are as creative as documentary: consisting of images of clear beauty, clearly inspired in a pictorial way and also in some way due to Ghirri, they hide behind an apparent neutrality a clear critical stance on the contemporary reality of mass society and its ways of being, unable to distinguish what is important from what is not, who is important from those who are not; everything is flattened, we are all small iniquitous grains of sand.
Massimo Vitali is in show ended 24 giugno at Chiostri di San Pietro in Reggio Emilia, Fotografia Europea 2012 Show