Abandoned Places - Interview with Nicola Bertellotti

Abandoned Places - Interview with Nicola Bertellotti

When did you take up photography?
«It was eight years ago, thank to a series called Penguin Dust. I bought a doorstop in an art gallery. It was in the shape of a penguin and it was by a French artist. From that moment I started to take photos of it while all around the world, like the famous Amélie’s travelling dwarf. I also created a website and some merchandising in order to promote the penguin».
 
Nonetheless, I shall assume that you were not only interested in this photography genre…
«Absolutely not, in fact, during my journeys, my ultimate aim was to capture the beauty ofthe reality around me. The photography genre I feel closest to is travel photography, no doubt. In the past I have “stolen” the face of the wonderful women in the souk of Marrakech, I caught the magic of the White Nights in Saint Petersburg, to eventually arrive to the US and in the Middle East».
 
Let’s comment together on Alidem’s photos. Shall we start from Caryatids?
«It is a very recent shot, taken in August 2015. It is a photo of a very noble villa, which unfortunately today appears to be abandoned. I was really impressed by the difference between the inside and the outside. In fact, from outside itresembles a farmhouse, while from the inside it is just majestic».
 
About abandoned places, why did you decide to focus your attention on these subjects?
«Because these places provide real evidence of the passage of time, and they deserve everyone’s attention. From a history scholar’s perspective, as I myself am, I visited for example the abandoned house in Vercelli where Camillo Benso Count of Cavour grew up. In Locarno, I photographed the room where the anarchist Mikhail Bakunin died. Additionally, what I emotionally experience is over whelming, honestly I don’t see other subjects capable of giving me the same sort of deep emotions».
 
Let’s go back to Alidem’s photos. Where did you shot Götterdämmerung?
«This time the subject is a Mantuan villa, which probably was owned by various rich families, among which the Gonzaga family. It has been abandoned for thirty/forty years. It is possible that an artist stayed for some times in the room you see in the photo,since numerous paintings, easels and painting equipment were found in there. It is very rare indeed to find objects in abandoned buildings, since vandals and thieves plunder very often the rooms».

What’s the meaning of the title?
«It means “The Twilight of the Gods”, in German. “The Fall of the Gods” by Luchino Visconti inspires it, but at the same time it is a tribute to Richard Wagner. The movie by Visconti was about the story of a wealthy family that, in the Nazi period, fell into disgrace after many vicissitudes: a theme which I thought was a perfect fit with the subject of photography. Despite several breaks due to the recent earthquakes in Emilia, in the villa one can still get a glimpse on the glories of the past: the eagle over the door,precious stucco and high ceilings are the marks of a power that greatly contrasts with the poor state of the building in the present».
 
In fact, the titles do not presuppose immediate links to what is shown in the image…
«The titles of my works are very important, because every photographed place has a connection to films, literature, music or art in general. It is as if each space projected my mind into something I have already seen or into something is some how already familiar to me».
 
Let’s continue with the explanation of La fabbrica dei fili rossi (“The Factory of the Red Wires”).
«The photo was taken in 2014, in an abandoned knitwear factory, thatworked for a long time, and that - if I am not mistaken- closed around theSixties. When I entered, I found everything intact: sewing machines, yarns andeven the newspapers were lying in front of me as if nothing had changed sincethen. For a moment I felt like I was travelling back in time, in the factory atwork with the other labourers. I have chosen to refer back to the red wire, asa symbol of the links and relationships between people, objects and themes.After all, this theme is the one I love, and this is what I love to create withmy idea of photography».
 
Now my curiosity shifts to Martyr. Did you find the scene exactly like that or did you recreate it?
«I did not make any change on the scene, I found it so. I only immortalised it. It was one of the most surreal encounters that I've ever experienced! Martyr is the photograph of the basement of a medieval castle in Romagna. Its style is to some extent pretty eclectic. Honestly, I do not know how to explain the presence of such a statue in such a place, muchless I can imagine a reason for its strange position. In any case, the fact remains that for me it was very difficult to photograph it, because the transparent thread from which it hung moved constantly, making the all focus operation quite difficult».
 
Finally we come to The Pearl.
«The Pearl depicts an eighteenth-century Polish church, designed by one of the most famous local architects of the time. It is a "pearl" hidden in the Polish countryside, they tried several years ago to restore it, but unfortunately the efforts have not been successful so far. I took this shot last year, during a tour of abandoned churches in Poland». 

What are you working on right now?
«Right now I am focusing on a project that concerns the Nature’s attempt to regain possession of urban spaces. At the same time, I am carrying on a project related to large industrial facilities that inspired me science fiction impressions. In addition, I am considering various exhibition opportunities, but I would rather talk about it when it is all more certain».