Artist features

Mario Cresci

Since the late Sixties, Mario Cresci has been a benchmark for developing experimental languages tied to photography and the relationship between the composition of images and a look at reality.

All images Courtesy of the artist and Matèria

Mario Cresci: “I think of my work, as a circular path where change is from time to time not a past that has been overcome, but the possibility of a future reinterpretation.

Over the years, I learned how much photography, in its identity as a medium of the portrayal of reality, could offer vast areas of research and experimentation on the level of arts as well as society. In fact, visual experience often manages to overcome the limitation of circumstances, place and time, as a bearer of meanings that go beyond the visible. For these reasons, I used photography, combining my works with different areas of knowledge and disciplines, such as architecture, visual design, ethnography and anthropology, and teaching and applying all of this in site-specific works that allowed me to interact with the places of art, work and the landscape.

In general, I think that in this immensely complex moment in history, it is useful to fully reveal the essential reasons of one’s choices without the rhetoric often used by authors who place merits and success on a higher level than their doubts and defeats, in the twisted conviction that “producing” art makes them immune from the negative values and dramas of the society in which we live.

I ask myself: why is the artist free to cross through the problems of our era untouched, as if the sole objective of his work were the economic one of auctions and collecting that, for the most part, is devoid of ethics? This anthological exhibition forces me to review my past, which only in part has no sense of nostalgia, in the memory of things done and those not done, of the failures that cannot be forgotten and the results that have been achieved. In the choice of works, shared with the people closest to me, I tried to bring out the reasons, poetics and rules I have followed since the Sixties, using photography as a form of knowledge that runs through emotions and first-hand experience. But an experience that arises this way cannot be transformed into knowledge if our gaze remains on the surface, if all that is left is the image, a cold document, aesthetics and spectacle for the observer. For example, we are talking about the cursory nature of reportage, helpful for information but that, in the face of life that continues, changing society, the transformation of things and events, and an increasingly “fluid” world, sees the gaze of the photographer remain ever the same, as if that person did not participate in those changes, as if images played no role in history. This way of seeing is certainly not the one masterfully hoped for by John Berger in his looking at the world according to those “forms of attention” that precede the moment of image formation, which are: “something that comes before style … because Berger has wondered about everything that can happen before his gaze, be it a painting or a newspaper clipping, a place or an object, a person or a tree. Observing was his main activity ….”.

Therefore, it is about looking, seeing, observing and then acting, but also resisting with the most “cultural density” possible before producing works, because often it is more involving to understand the path taken by the author in creating the work than the work itself. In the exhibition rooms, in a free and timeless description, intentionally mixing up the dates, I showed the most significant part of the works I created first in northern Italy and then in the South, then returning north in the late Eighties and remaining there to date. These are three seasons of my life that allowed me to get to know, interpret and interact with the realities in which I live, but that’s not all.

This is an array of human and environmental experiences so astonishing that they generate moments of failure and doubt that are then overcome through deeper knowledge of myself. This is why changes have marked my works over time, so that they cannot always be reduced to clear formal continuity. In the search for personal inclusion in social contexts I didn’t know, I thought that photography and graphics could become a power and real means of communication in the face of the creative anxiety that filled the drawers of my studio with projects. It didn’t make sense to think about and produce things that perhaps would never be created in social contexts typical of change, from which they would gain an undeniable advantage. But I nevertheless proceeded in the emotion of seeing and doing, seeking and finding the way to reveal the magic of seemingly aseptic places without any kind of perceptual attraction. In this suspended time in which nothing seemed to happen, there was always the hope that an evolution and different vision of this on the part of society in which I lived could make my projects come to fruition. But how? Public art? Or art that is purely social, midway between design and communication? An art extraneous from the models of the system, those of galleries and collectors? Maybe an art that is not art?”

out now

Tique | art paper #2:
Contemporary Camera