HARNESS - Interview to Giuseppe Cocco
How and when did you start to take photographs?
«I started when I was 10 years-old, thanks to a Ferrania Rondine camera that my grandfather gave to meas a present, and also using with my father’s Zeiss Super Ikonta 4,5x6 cm. WhenI was 13 I got more into photography and started buying photo magazines (Fotografare, Progresso Fotografico, Photoitaliana) and books. I’m a self-learned photographer, as I’m a self-learnedman in life, and I’m still studying the technique, the language and the cultureof photography as much as the work by other artists, through exhibitions andshows. At the beginning of my activity and for the following 10 years I’veprinted my photos in black and white, then Ermanno Olmi, the film director,suggested me to start doing color prints. During my studies in art my interestin photography grew stronger and in 1977, when I graduated in Architecture, Istarted my career by taking up architecture photography and realizingphoto-reportages about geography. This led me to be appointed by the RegioneLazio to realize a photographic rendering of the urban, environmental andterritorial situation of the Lazio. For thirty years I’ve also worked withmagazines and publishers».
Can you speak ofthe photographs we have in our collection?
«Through my blackand white photos – and through digital graphic art – I want to tell the storyof Italy’s beauty, of its material and immaterial identities, of the atmospherethat characterizes the least known parts of Italy – that Italy that I like to call“minor Italy with a capital M”. To me, it’s like a great and scatteredemotional garden, where time turns into space. The photos that Alidem selected– a heifer’s snout, grazing horses and cows, horse-trappings and horseshoes –are quite minimalist and represent the rural world, which has always been myfavorite subject as it suits my personal inclinations. To realize these photos,I worked on a digital mix of ink and watercolor effects».
What does photography mean to you?
«Ilove painting and photography and I’ve always thought of photography as one ofthe available graphic techniques. Photography means to write with light, andwriting allows us to tell something about reality, thoughts and reflections. Ofcourse, everything is filtered through the artist’s personal and culturalsensibility, which characterizes a photographer’s own style. I try to find thebest way to convey – in a synesthetic way – those emotions and sensations thatare aroused by the beauty around me and by the subjects I choose. I’m an eyewitness: I observe, contemplate, meditate, choose, pick, linger. I tell thestory of what strikes, arouses and affects me. Photography is a communicationmedium that has the power of stirring emotions and arousing reactions through acaptivating style. Since photography speaks a very simple and fascinatinglanguage, it can really contribute to challenge people’s ideas and build theirawareness on relevant themes. Photography leads people to think and reflect, itbroadens our minds and enriches our souls, keeping us away from the idolatry ofmoney and the decay of society and individuals. Photography brings beauty toour lives, making our everyday life aesthetically and ethically more rewarding,improving the quality of life and making the world better».
Can you tell ussomething about your technique?
«As every artist, I’m always searching and striving to obtain the best possible result, the onethat will eventually satisfy me. I mainly work with black and whites and digitalgraphic art. Since high school, I’ve always preferred a style of figurative andcontemplative realism, a “quiet” type of art, very distant from the provocativeand revolutionary style required bycontemporary art, where you always have to look for something strange, new,innovative. Today, thanks to the new digital technologies available, I canshoot following my emotions, using the same technique the Impressionistpainters used, working en plain air to catch sensations and feelingsrather than details, looking for shapes, volumes, lights, shadows, contrast,colors and shades created by the natural light and immortalized with my digitalpaintbrush».
Are you inspiredby any photographer/artist, either from the past or present?
«My passion withphotography has always been accompanied by a keen interest in every kind of artand in every photographer’s work, even in those whose work is quite distantfrom mine. To make it short, I will just say that my way of looking at ruraland humanized landscapes has been influenced by those Italian painterscollectively known as “Macchiaioli”, and also by Segantini, Canaletto, Boldini,Bellotto, Guardi; but I also admire Aldo Riso’s technique, a greatwatercolorist. Coming to photography, I think that my work follows thetradition of architecture and landscape photographers – some of whom are mysame age and old “competitors”: Gabriele Basilico, the one I feel closer, butalso Mimmo Jodice and Luigi Ghirri. For what concerns rural and anthropologicphotography, a great example is my friend Mario Cresci».
What are you working on right now?
«Right now I’mworking a lot on my photos, as I have a large number of images stored on mycomputer. Because of the economic crisis, it’s difficult to find partners keenon committing to exposition projects, so I’m taking this period as anopportunity for sharpening my photo editing skills».
What are your future projects?
«My main project, from which all the others derive, is to commit therest of my life to my beautiful Peninsula, my “minor Italy with a capital M”, areality that I believe it’s really at stake. Thus, in collaboration with ItaliaNostra association, I’ll tell the stories of these endangered landscapes –urban, rural, humanized landscapes – starting from Rome and its district:historical villas, parks, farmhouses, rivers, the seashore, the Roman consularroads and the Ager Romanus (the rural area around Rome)».