“State of Crisis”: this is the theme of Citerna 2012, the fourth edition of this international photographic festival. It is an impelling, clearly difficult theme we have chosen to deal with here, and one that we propose in what we believe to be a unique, fascinating manner. Visitors to the Festival will be given the opportunity to delve into the very heart of this crisis and to explore its darkest recesses, as if each time entering a different circle of Dante’s famous Hell.
What they are going to see, that is, what they are hopefully going to stop to observe, admire, evaluate and criticize, is not only a series of interesting works of art, but also a description of one part of their own world and, to a certain degree, of their being here, right now, in this particular space, at this particular moment in time.
The Crisis is not something detached from the rest of our lives; it has no specific place of its own, or any clearly-designated boundaries. On the contrary, it is a totalizing, widespread phenomenon, the clearest feature of which is of course economic-material, although this is closely intertwined with the moral and cultural aspects of society.
“State of crisis” features the works of Emiliano Mancuso and Francesco Zizola, entitled, respectively, “The State of Italy” and “Stories of the Late Empire”. These exhibitions are joined by a collective production - “Glimpses of an endangered nation” –the work of Francesco Cocco, Salvatore Esposito, Alfredo Falvo, Gughi Fassino, Stephanie Gengotti, Alessandro Imbriaco, Claudio Morelli, Alessandro Pace, Giovanni Presutti, Marta Sarlo, Daniele Vita, Antonio Zambardino and Valentina Vannicola. Two other photographers lend considerable prestige to the 2012 edition of the Festival: Felix Lupa, as representative of the guest nation, Israel, and Mark Henley, with his own personal view of the “State of Crisis”.
Of course, Citerna Fotografia also offers visitors the opportunity to discover the innumerable historical, cultural and gastronomic aspects of the Upper Tiber Valley area of Umbria: thus it is not only an artistic experience, but also a chance for people to explore the nature and traditions of which this region of Italy is very proud.
Deflation, stagnation, subsidies, social welfare, the distribution and concentration of wealth, 1% and 99%, Occupy Wall Street, interest rates, financial derivatives and speculative bubbles, creative finance, GDPs, temporary layoff funds, redundancies, closures, sacrifices, tactics and strategies, life models, financial spread, central bank intervention, economic collapse, recession, growth, equilibria, decadence, spirit, corruption and values. Too many questions and no answers as such. Too many names, all encapsulated by the one word: CRISIS. This is the subject of Citerna 2012, the fourth edition of this photographic festival. An urgent, clearly difficult subject to deal with, and one which we have decided to tackle in what we believe to be a unique, interesting manner. Visitors penetrate into the spaces of this crisis, exploring its darkest recesses, as if each time entering a different circle of Dante’s Hell. What they are going to see, that is, what they are going to stop to observe, admire, evaluate and criticize, is not only a series of interesting works of art, but also a description of one part of their own world and, to a certain degree, of their being here, right now, in this particular space, at this particular moment in time.
The crisis is not something detached from the rest; it has no specific place of its own, or any clearly-designated boundaries. On the contrary, it is a totalizing, widespread phenomenon, the clearest feature of which is of course economic-material, although this is closely intertwined with the moral and cultural aspects of society.
However, perhaps the most difficult thing to accept is the fact that the very temporal categories themselves are affected by the crisis. Our vision of the world prior to the crisis was one in which socio-economic growth was a foregone conclusion. The flow of events was deemed to inevitably lead to a better way of life, to greater social cohesion, to a better society and to more justice and equity. All of this was to be the “future”: that time when such conditions and expectations would be transformed into the “present” both for us and our children. All of this was to be witnessed in a constant becoming, in a process of growth that at times slows but which is nevertheless constant and repetitive.
However, we now have to accept that such growth and development is not always necessarily in the same direction. We now have to admit that History with a capital “H” may in any case alter the course of events and redefine prospects and trajectories. We now have to admit that the “future” may not even exist, in the sense that civilisation itself – the civilisation to which we feel we belong – could find itself inextricably entangled and on the decline, being reduced to a secondary role in relation to other actors emerging on the global scene, ones that could become the leading players in the future. The Fall of the Gods, sic transit gloria mundi. Each of us may have a different term for this fear – the fear not only of having lost the present, but of losing the future as well.
As you visit the various rooms that make up “State of Crisis”, you slowly descend into the hell of such fears, and come face-to-face with the real world of the crisis as depicted by the artists’ varying sensitivities and experiences: you slowly move past public protests, and enter the soft underbelly of power; you breathe in poverty, anger, resignation, revolt, pursuit, disappointment, arrogance, as well as the will to live and to push on, to grow, to rebuild and to dream once again.
“State of Crisis” avails itself of the works of Filippo Mancuso and Francesco Zizola, with their collections of photos entitled, respectively, “The State of Italy” and “Stories of the Late Empire”. These artists of course require no introduction, and it is an honour to have them here at Citerna 2012.
The hundred-and-one souls of the crisis are to be found in the collective production “Glimpses of an endangered nation” which brings together the work of thirteen photographers, each of which is dedicated to a specific theme. Each artist displays a different expressive approach, formal language, sensitivity and strength; and each artist’s work establishes a relationship with the observer, calls for that observer’s attention, and variously questions and challenges the observer’s beliefs. Each of these works contributes towards the “spectacle” of these crisis years; each contributes towards that “background noise” which is an integral part of life today – the stuttering developments of a situation full of potential, yet highly instable and precarious. Thirteen “Glimpses of an endangered nation” representing the hundred-and-one souls populating this intangible space:
Francesco Cocco, Salvatore Esposito, Alfredo Falvo, Gughi Fassino, Stephanie Gengotti, Alessandro Imbriaco, Claudio Morelli, Alessandro Pace, Giovanni Presutti, Marta Sarlo, Daniele Vita, Antonio Zambardino and Valentina Vannicola.
It is with great pleasure that we welcome a work by the English photographer Mark Henley, who for some years now has lived in Switzerland. Mark boasts a wealth of experience, but the one thing that struck us in particular was a specific project of his which we believe perfectly ties in with the subject of this year’s festival: the money industry is the theme of Mark’s “The Vaults”, a journey through the grey, equivocal world of Swiss banking, of this separate little universe in the centre of Europe, indeed in the centre of the world economy, for better or for worse. The symbols and places of power, apparently normal and of an everyday beauty, are nevertheless shadowed by a thin, disconcerting veil of secrecy. Barely detectable sensations, fleeting thoughts, questions unasked as one turns the corner of an historical building: men in grey walking hurriedly along the city’s orderly, pristine streets. Mark’s narration is a genuine “film noir” that slowly unfolds among the beautiful streets of Zurich.
Israel is the guest nation at this year’s Festival: and the collection of works from that country on display may be deemed unique.
Felix Lupa is one of the most famous, representative artists of the new generation of Israeli photographers. “Dwellers of the magic car”, Felix’s project presented at this year’s Festival, delves into the difficult, unique lives of those living in the streets and back-lanes of Tel Aviv (although the place in question could be any city in any country). Their lives are interwoven with that of the metropolis, and very quickly with that of the photographer himself, who one way or another becomes an important character in the story itself. A unique, beautiful city and a fast-moving centre of frenetic lives. Two men whose experiences have taken them right across Europe, before uniting to constitute one single story in this particular city. Hopes and dreams, marginalization and suffering. A well-known street photographer who has always created his artwork in the city streets. A photographic project that quickly becomes something much more than just that. A simple, yet intense human tale told with considerable tact and respect for the main characters.
We believe that the proposed theme and the artistic works on display are stimulating not only in artistic terms, but also from the point of view of the reflections on these extremely difficult topics that these works generate. No longer simply photographs, no longer simply art. This is yet another aspect of Citerna 2012 that underlines the Festival’s particular position within Italy’s cultural landscape.
Art and organizational direction: Associazione Culturale RE_Immagina_RE
Art advisor: Massimo Agus
General management: Enrico Milanesi
Administrative management: Antonio Guerrini
Organisation on behalf of Maxartis: Giovanna Griffo
Catalogue published by Petruzzi Editore, and edited by Associazione Culturale RE_Immagina_RE, Massimo Agus and Enrico Milanesi.
The following bodies and organisations significantly contributed towards the Festival:
The photo community Maxartis
The Historical Archives “Archiphoto”
Citerna’s tourism and cultural association “Pro Loco di Citerna”
The Italian Federation of Photographic Associations “FIAF”