I came across works of Sergio Tranquilli and liked his minimalistic approach in urban landscape photography. I’m yet to see his larger body of works in different categories but I am convinced that he’s best at capturing the raw beauty of urban places and transitional spaces. Most of these images are shot in throbbing megalopolis but there aren’t jam-packed marketplace or crossroads with strangers making boring faces… his photography is documentation of an urban or semi-urban space that we pass through without noticing its unresponsive existence. Sergio provided his choicest images and some text for this feature and I asked him some supplementary questions; and based on them here’s an understanding into the work and preferences of this very talented Italian photographer:
My name is Sergio Tranquilli and I’m an Italian photographer and teacher. I attended the Faculty of Arts in Bologna where there was the crucial meeting with the semiotics of Paolo Fabbri: he taught me to put together the art and the body, the lightness imaginative and rooting in the ground. In that time I rediscovered an old passion, photography, abandoned for some time and I started to explore its expressive possibilities travelling around the world. The trips are full of mythical encounters, full of gods, nymphs and gods. Or, as a friend of mine suggests, is my gaze to become mythical? I worked as a file clerk in England, in Torquay, and I spent a long time in France, the chosen land. Presently I teach literature and translate for a magazine. I’m grappling with the realization of a project that is close to my heart: the matching of my work at school and photography: a way to explore integration among adolescents.
I feel I need to collect traces and tell others, who was not with me, what I saw and what I found in my explorations.
I love cities and my photos have to do with space. I look for blanks, empty spaces with a certain type of light. Spaces, at first anonymous, disconnected, empty. A kind of desert within the city. Places that appear to be meaningless.
My approach was basically very simple, I was looking for the most clean image. The photos are mostly frontal views, ordered shots. They did not and do not claim to be descriptions of the city as moments of rest, foot-dragging, and expectations. And this was also my way of being there. As a dowser, which recognizes energy. And so the photos coming out.
But a kind of subversion is accomplished. Those surfaces, smells and noises, processed materials, became the basis for something new. The more the image tries to be balanced and ordinary, more I try to get to other side of things. What is hidden it is revealed. A fracture: full of meaning. Between the folds of the ordinary I was looking for a way. There was something more authentic, pulsating, real and sinuous, full of gaps, deviations, nodes, paths to live with “the imagination of the body.” They live between immobility and vibration.
The images I have selected are united by a thin red thread that binds them beyond their differences: these pictures betray their apparent stillness, they have a light balance that raises the viewer causing him to lose his balance.
Why are these photos a lot more different… more bright, more pleasing than ones that are there in your Carbonmade portfolio? Don’t you think these should be included in your representative website?
I believe that, from a photographic point of view, inside me there are more roads: a luminous soul and one nocturnal; a vision in black and white and another one in color; the search for smooth tones and sharp contrasts. But at the bottom there is a common need: the relationship with surroundings and the desire to tell something. In my Carbonmade portfolio you can see four groups of stories that date back to 3 year ago, four ideas to be completed.
I was back from a long crossing of the Balkans with the idea to realize a book, News from Nowhere: a cartography of a real and imaginary world at the same time, made of stops, breaks, fractures and trails; a trip to get in contact (quoting Bachelard) with le feu dans le coeur du vide. Then I started working on a second project where words and images will lead together, Once, which currently promises great prospects for creativity.
My sources of inspiration are to be found in films, literature, in the work of some photographers and in meeting with particularly significant friends. My imagination and my view are deeply nourished by the urban landscape and the sense of wandering of films by Wim Wenders, by the look and sense of emptiness of Antonioni’s film, by the light and the sense of dignity of the stories told by Aki Kaurismaki.
Literature is a constant reference. Over time there are three authors who have a value strictly personal to me. I love the disenchanted, the sense of humor and the ability to face life of Bukowski and his simple, basic and effective writing. The pace and the breaks of his writing have always had an effect on me: as he is telling, he is work inside you. I like the openness and generosity of Hemingway, the search for meaning through practical commitment: a practice, a series of gestures and the creation of a place above and against a feeling of emptiness. The art of seeing of Italo Calvino: an eye always able to grasp the figure of what surrounds it and to renew it with lightness and irony.
And of course music, a constant presence in my life. When I was a child my uncle gave me the video of Rattle & Hum by U2. Here sometimes the black and white emerges to me because that video has crept so deep in me! Music can easily and in a blow open locked drawers and bring in this something that was settled long ago: so sometimes different sensitivities that I recognize to be belonging to different stages of my life back strongly to stir in my photos.
How do you see yourself after a decade? What do you think will be the future of photography?
Too difficult to answer to this question. I hope it is a time that will not go in vain; full of meaning and so will be the photography.