Gabriele Basilico is probably one of the world’s best-known urban landscape photographers. Born in Milan in 1944, he graduated in architecture in the Lombard capital in 1973 but soon abandoned the career he had studied so hard for to devote himself to photography. At first, he devoted himself to social investigation. However, the influence of his studies in architecture always remained present, particularly in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1982, he presented his first international success, Milano. Ritratti di fabbriche. In 1984, he was “enlisted” by the French government for the Mission Photographique de la DATAR, a project to document the transformation of the landscape. Basilico was the only Italian in the group of selected photographers, and was assigned the theme “Bord de Mer”. In 1991, he took part in an important project on the city of Beirut, which was emerging, devastated, from 15 years of civil war. Six photographers moved among the ruins, charged with imprinting the devastation created by the Lebanese conflict in their memories. Today we offer you shots from the “Castello Ursino” Civic Museum in Catania. The exhibition opened on 18 September and features previously unseen shots by this great protagonist of contemporary Italian and international photography.
When I photograph, I try to create a dialogue with the place: I explore it, it sends me things backGabriele Basilico
The exhibition Intermediate Territories was created as a reflection on an important, fundamental part of Gabriele Basilico’s work that has remained in the shadows until now. These photographs were partly made as studies or finally “sacrificed” for precise requirements deriving from clients. His aim was to map landscapes, to inhabit and regenerate them with the constructions of an innovative thought. He highlights those landscapes that slowly seem to be approaching dustbin countries, i.e. places that accept waste from rich countries in exchange for money. The more than 120 images published in the exhibition catalogue, of which more than 60 are on show, are almost all previously unpublished, yet chosen and selected by Basilico himself. Never published or presented in solo or group exhibitions, except in rare cases, they were taken from the mid-1980s to the early 2000s, thus covering most of the Milanese photographer’s career.
The photographs on display reveal the soul of the great Italian master, known throughout the world, and in dialogue with the historical memory of the medieval Sicilian castle. They are unprecedented reflections on the concept of space and form, which were the focus of the research of the great photographer who died prematurely in 2013. They are photographs that exude passion, that go beyond the professional order and make us appreciate a private and romantic dimension of the artist. Basilico exudes visions, a sort of sensory approach to the alchemy of images, and governs the construction of the shots like Renaissance paintings with the harmonies of composition and light.
The ‘in-between territories’ are physical spaces that are tangible to the eye, but also mental spaces, induced in the observer by the voids, the absences determined by pauses and silences in the visual construction of the image.
The density of the light and the choice of perspective adopted by Basilico contribute to determining the formal balance between the volumes, leading to a new reading of the image, through that act of suspension and contemplation often emphasized by the photographer himself as indispensable when observing the landscape, whatever its nature.
Observing and analysing the landscape, Basilico began to investigate with increasing insistence the relationship between the works of man and space, that space which occupies visual planes within the image that until then had been little or almost never considered. The foreground, for example, thus becomes the street pavement or the beach, often rendered photographically thanks to a new interpretation of light, direct and indirect, and of nature, the sky and open spaces, now undefined backgrounds within the photographic plate.
Gabriele Basilico has produced many works documenting cities in Italy and abroad, as well as a large number of exhibitions and personal books. Considered an undisputed master of contemporary photography, he has exhibited in many countries and received numerous prizes and awards. He has also intertwined his tireless interest in the transformation of the urban landscape with seminars, lectures, conferences, and written reflections. His works are part of important international public and private collections.
Exhibition title: Gabriele Basilico – Intermediate Territories
A project by: Fondazione OELLE Mediterraneo antico with the Archivio Gabriele Basilico
Place: Ursino Castle Civic Museum, piazza Federico II di Svevia, Catania
Open to the public: from 18 September 2021 to 6 January 2022
Hours: Monday to Sunday from 9 am to 7 pm (last ticket sold one hour before closing).
Online ticket purchase: ticket.it