WORDS: ANNA SAMPSON
PHOTOGRAPHY: GLAUCO CANALIS
WHAT’S BEEN GOING ON THIS WEEK?
At the moment I’m interning at a publishing house of Art and Photo books and it’s is pretty much what I do Monday to Friday. When I come home I chill, cook and edit a few new pictures before going to sleep. I have a slow process at the moment as my current work keeps me busy. I’m not at uni anymore, so I’m just pushing it one step at a time.
WHAT’S YER FAVOURITE THING TO COOK?
I’m a master of salads. My speciality is: mixed leaves, avacado, salmon, lime, ginger, pumpkin seeds and fresh chilli. Apple and melon often feature in it. Sometimes I like to cook lentils in this nice ceramic pot which I use for stews. Now it feels weird talking about this because it’s really warm.
TELL US MORE ABOUT THE INTERNSHIP!
The internship is with a company called Mack which publishes very interesting and quite unique photobooks. Most of the photographers who inspire me have published with Mack and time to time they come in and have a chat in the office mostly to show their new work. This way I get to see lots of unpublished and unseen work which is awesome and inspiring of course. It’s like working at a music label and getting all the demos from an unknown artist to a really famous one .
I’m passively learning; I don’t always get to do the interesting things, mostly the admin shit. There are just six of us and we’re at the same desk, so when they’re sequencing images for a book I’m observing and hearing “take this picture off its shit” or “it’s good but doesn’t work within the sequence, here comes the hard choices”. From this I see why these pictures are not working within the framework .
You definitely get influenced by it.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO PHOTOGRAPHY?
As a kid on Sunday afternoon my father would arrange a sort of cinema . He was an amateur photographer and had lots of pictures of Rome and protests there because he was very active politically. I would just stay in the dark room, watching all these images and he would inform me about what we were looking at .
Then I moved to Rimini I met other guys who took photos. They were all super cool, super vibrant and had super sick Myspace profiles. (laughs). I was coming from a village so never had my own. I just started feeling jealous of these guys hooking up with girls because they were good photographers and thought “I want to do this”.
My first job was assisting a photographer, where I’d essentially harass people in Rimini, Italy. I had to stop people on the boulevard where I’d take their picture, give them a ticket and ask them to come to the studio and buy the shots. Essentially my first job was assaulting people (laughs). I often would get a grand a month for it though.
WHY MOVE TO THE UK?
It was just a hate for Italy (laughs). No, I was just tired of Milan where I was studying for four years, because it’s actually pretty small. It didn’t feel right- it felt they misunderstood artists and I felt like I had to compromise myself too much to get into a good position. There’s a lot of fakery in Milan. I’m not ‘the cool dude’ and I don’t think I have to be friends with everyone. I like to voice when I don’t agree with you sometimes.
My friend said England was full of opportunities so I applied for different universities and I had a positive reply from all of them. Lancaster and Leeds accepted me onto a social political course, which I applied to using my photography. Then I applied to Plymouth for photography which had a great lecturer although I arrived there really randomly. The fees were cheaper and the city seemed a bit cheaper too.
WHEN YOU’RE SHOOTING WHAT ARE YOU SUBJECTS?
I like to take pictures of random shit. Especially when I go to a new city I want to see the underbelly of it, the bad sides of it. However, my personal projects that I aim to get into galleries and museums are more thoughtful projects driven mostly by my interests in politics history and geography. Most of my work is based in Sicily because it’s the place I have a much deeper knowledge of.
My angle is to focus on the outskirts of the city, the outskirts of society and Don Quixotesque stories that stands slightly out of the conventional .
WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH YOUR BOOK “Sicily 49”?
I started making this work in 2013 when an issue raised up in Sicily. An American military installation was going to be built to facilitate the control of drones from all over the world. This facility has therefore been illegally built, so there have been serious protests seeing masses of people involved. I went to look at this place and after talking with activists and other people I realised that Sicily was actually full of these installations. All of this information inspired me to make an extended body of work of these places and make a survey of it .
I would hire or borrow cars from friends to view the sites and was always alone because my friends never wanted to join me. These all became major works of mine which I made a book of, addressing the American presence in Sicily as a contemporary domination as well as a myth..a kind of goal that Sicily has never achieved, that somehow mirrors the poetic of a famous Sicilian writer, Giovanni Verga. Many of his famous novels are constructed around the idea of the “cycle of the foredoomed” (Ciclo dei Vinti), or in other words, the cyclical history of those people coming from the lower classes that would spend their whole life trying to climb the ladder to achieve a better position in society, until a major event would completely overwhelm their efforts and bring them down to the gutter again. Whilst studying, I discovered that when Americans came in in 1943 to free up the region from the Nazist presence a separatist movement pushed the idea that Sicily should be the 49th state of America. It sounds completely hilarious because Sicily to some extent is very conservative and backward in time. It’s like having an old car that doesn’t work very well but wants to be a Ferrari.
We have a all these connections with America-between 1900 and 1930 over 3 million Sicilians moved there. I’m trying to fill this gap of the stupid idea that America is ‘the place’ to be and the fact we actually have it embedded in our geographical, political and social culture.
FAVOURITE ARTISTS ATM ?
Since I’ve been at Mack I’ve come across lots of new works and I’m really fond of Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin. They’re two London based artists who make photo books but they are much more than photographers. Recently they made a publication called ‘Spirit Is A Bone’ which features digital reconstructions of faces, responding to a new issue.
At the MIT in Boston, a new algorithm is currently being developed, enabling the system to actually match your face with your potential social profile. And by social we are not merely referring to the social networks. Especially in a city like London, our faces are “watched” by cameras an incredible number of times every day. Spirit is a bone is somehow reporting the physical matter of the actual Panopticon in which the western world is now living, hence questioning this whole idea of digital face reconstruction and the controversial aspects of it.
IF YOU COULDN’T TAKE PIX WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING?
If I wasn’t in the arts realm I would definitely be leading protests or running a farm.
WHAT KIND OF FARM?
A farm in which I’d do workshops of: how to grow your own food, how to live on healthy food and how to be aware of what we eat. I like real products, you know? Last summer I actually ran a temporary home restaurant in Sicily . I always work in catering to make extra money; always at cosy places, where I’ve learnt a lot about jazz music, cooking and wine… everything !
WHEN’S THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? 😥
I think when I was nine years old.
THAT LONG AGO?
I never cry, I cant!
I wish I could do it more often because it’s actually a problem that I face with my girlfriend and my previous girlfriends because they’d complain that i’m not in touch with my emotions . It doesn’t mean that I’m cold, I just can cope with things easily. I had a very weird and a troubled upbringing, so I learnt how to stand alone and to not rely on anyone . Most of the time I’m alone and i solve issues by myself.
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Some of his work for VICE;