Obscura

09 May  >  11 July, 2017

Obscura sheds a light on those latent stories and feelings that are brought to life only as a result of the visual research of the photographers who portray them.
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Obscura

Curated by
Giuseppe Oliverio
Closed
11th July, 2017

Obscura aims to shed a light on those latent stories and feelings that are brought to life only as a result of the visual research of the photographers who portray them. Marginalised communities, personal and collective identities, the state presence and other universal themes are granted a visual life and synthetize in images characterised by different layers of interpretation. Their stage is often the night, the underground and those places apparently faraway from our everyday life. The relative calm proper of these contexts invites us to analyse the underlying tensions and reflect upon conditions, experiences and emotions we could directly or indirectly get closer to in the course of our life.

The first chapter of the exhibition focuses on communities living precarious experiences. Our visual journey starts in street of Bucharest, once the house of the tribe of Gara de Nord documented by Massimo Branca who lived with them for several months. These marginalised people, lead by its charismatic leader Bruce Lee, have been striving for years to build a community in the underground tunnels beneath the Rumanian capital city centre. A constant fight against marginalisation, drug addiction and illegality brought ahead by these “invisible” people just a few steps below the civilised society. Thousands of kilometres away, in Colombia, the Cauca indigenous community portrayed by Jorge Panchoaga in La Casa Grande experience a similar destiny. Their battle aims at preserving their territory, which represents the solid basis upon which they have been developing their millenary cultural identity and sustainable of living in harmony with the ecosystem. Panchoaga’s nocturnal photographs silently tell us about their past and make us questions about their future. We can feel the tension and their emotive condition driven by the pride for carrying ahead their historical resistance and the fear of losing their home. On the other side of the Pacific Ocean in Otsuchi, Japan another community is slowly recovering from the 2011 Tsunami that devastated their little fishing town. Matching what remains of family photo albums with his iconic night pictures, Alejandro Chaskielberg explores the psychological condition of the survivors. The portrait of a monk standing where once the temple was; what remains of a railway bridge; a picture from a graduation ceremony. These images tell us more than any media report about what this community went through and how its inhabitants need not only to rebuild their houses but also their identity and memories, erased by the water.

Obscura’s second chapter bring us closer to themes such as the search for somebody’s own identity, identification with a certain culture and personal experiences. The Uncanny by Belgian photographer Léonard Pongo explores daily life in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where his paternal family is originally from. Originated by Pongo personal necessity to understand his belonging to a certain culture, the photographs do not narrate a specific story, but tell instead more about emotive statuses. Pongo goes beyond stereotypes, undressing contemporary life and showing a clear picture of people’s reaction to the African country political and social climate. A similar urgency motivated German photographer Sarah Pabst to dig into her family archive and reflect on her cultural heritage in order to (re)build her own memories. Investigating the life of her grandfather who survived World War II for a twist of faith and the stories of other family members, she talks about nationalism, tragedies and faith. These personal experiences show us the unpredictability of destiny and the fragility of life. They invite us to reconsider our certainties and understand each others more. This chapter about identity and existence ends with Lobismuller by Laia Abril. Her visual research tells us the story of the Manuel Blanco Romasanta, the werewolf of Alariz, Spain, who could have had a rare syndrome of intersexuality and who declared himself not guilty of several murders because of a curse that turned him into a wolf. While the images drive us along the thin line between fiction and reality, the sinister yet interesting life of this serial killer invites us to reflect on the less understood sides of the human mind.  

The state presence and how political decisions could affect/reflect the daily life of its citizens characterise the exhibition last chapter. These themes are central in How To Secure A Country by Salvatore Vitale. Here we are granted access to Switzerland’s national security machine. Elusive sensations, like safety, privacy and control, start to take shape while we ask ourselves at what point state protection crosses into monitoring. This story also mirrors the tensions many countries are experiencing at international level on these days and remind us about the possible consequences of militarisation and nationalisms. From a different angle Giovanni Troilo explores the economic and cultural crisis that affects the city of Charleroi in Belgium. Looking at his pictures, which explores the effects of industrial manufacturing collapse, unemployment, repression and lack of values, we ask ourselves what political mistakes might have dramatically changed the life of the city and its inhabitants. La Ville Noir invite us to consider if this could be a warning for the entire Europe and think how we could deal with that. 

Obscura is meant to be a reflexive exhibition where images are the visual inputs for an introspective journey. These stories invite us to empathise with universal matters and meditate on our inner side, personal experiences and cultural identity. A useful exercise to understand where we are going individually and as a society.

Featured Photographers

Curator

Giuseppe Oliverio

Giuseppe Oliverio

PHmuseum Director

Giuseppe is an Italian entrepreneur born in 1985 in Bologna. In 2011 he moved to Buenos Aires to develop the PHmuseum project and its online platform, launched in June 2012. Since then he has created an international network of photographers and editors around the project and leaded his team with a special focus on the creative development.

Giuseppe worked as a portfolio reviewer for Magnum Photos at Visa Pour L’Image in Perpignan and he has been in the jury of international awards like Gomma Grant, The Fence, Reminders Photography Stronghold and Viewbook Grant. He has given talks at international festivals like Paraty Em Foco in Brazil, Cortona On The Move in Italy and Ojo de Pez Meeting in Spain and written for TIME magazine. His first documentary A Conscious Dream has been selected to 12 film festivals across Europe, USA and Latin America and awarded best documentary short at 2016 Manchester International Film Festival.

He holds a degree in Economics at Bocconi University and a Master Degree in Quantitative Finance at London Cass Business School.