Luca Bortolato is an Italian photographer based in Venice. Dreamy, fairytale like and gentle, he designs his images in an almost minimalistic way. His pictures are real dialogues; they tell silent mysterious stories and they reveal a small part of himself. Fascinated by the power of pictures since always, he investigates his identity through others
I’m a convinced supporter of the idea that we are exactly our pictures. This means that they reflect our intimacies and sensibilities, as litmus paper.
Which is your first photographic memory?
A picture of my dad. It dates back to the 60’s. It portrays him during the military service. It was the first and unique time I saw him without mustaches.
Could you describe yourself with a book, a song and a movie?
“The Count of Monte Cristo” by Dumas.
“Rising” by the heart breaking Lhasa de Sela.
The only boarding school I’ve ever wanted to attend is the Welton Academy in “The dead poets society”.
Which of your pictures would you choose to introduce yourself?
They are three, actually.
Each of them represents an important moment in my path, a sort of turning points:
1. La Consapevolezza / The Awareness (the first picture of the first black and white roll, from which I got more than I had ever expected).
2. Gli Azzurri / The Light Blue Ones (it was the time of colours and suspended places. After a deep research, they would have found me).
3. La lucidità / The Luminescence (all of my last year production. My work has never been so clear to me).
A famous person you would like to portray.
A famous picture, not yours, you would have liked to take.
If I had done it, it would have not been the same.
I’m a convinced supporter of the idea that we are exactly our pictures. This means that they reflect our intimacies and sensibilities, as litmus paper. As a consequence, it is impossible to recreate an image that already exists in someone else.
Let’s start from your last series “Mericans”. Here, you portray a slice of life in New York, the city that never sleeps, “the apple made of restless metal skyscrapers; the place where flavours and smells of thousands of skins and nationalities mix”, you say. What made you decide to realize it? What is the reason behind the title choice?
“Mericans” differs a lot from the rest of my artistic production.
I was the first one to be surprised about it.
I had never been interested in “Street Photography” (a term too much used, I think).
I travel quite often. However, my camera is never with me, just because I need to live deeply and fully the reality around me.
New York started as a diary of memories from a place where I would have never come back. At least, not in the short time. I started from something that I already knew very well: the concept of identity. I’ve never been interested in faces; they have always been as a mirror to me, where to drown. In those days, New York becomes a reflection where to look at myself.
Since the beginning, I have recognized the tangible sense of solitude and melancholy I was used to, into a city interested in showing exactly its opposite.
It seems that the city could offer thousands of different opportunities to those who live there, to those who try to, and to whom, like me, come from distant places with no intentions to stay there for long.
People were there, as they were repeating to them that at the end, everything would be fine.
We are now thinking about “Alterità”, the series of female portraits you exhibited last summer in Milan. Six big sizes portraits of young, pure women. They are alone and naked in front of the camera. We don’t know who the subjects of these self-timers are, as we cannot see their visages. Their identities are shown just by little, tiny details of their bodies: a tattoo, a couple of moles, the line of their lips. “Alterità” is not just photography, it mixes with performance as well, because all visages of the series have been removed by a precise, net tear. What does this series reveal about yourself and your search for personal identity?
All my artistic path speaks about me.
It is like a draining, extenuating research over the many sides of me. It was a kind of exorcism of the parts of me I love and I cannot accept at the same time. As a result, it has gradually become a sort of “photography of acceptance”; a path dedicated to discover my inner side; a self-analysis made through other people. To me, people have always played the role of filters between reality and me. In “Alterità” I investigate the self-portrait, but by leaving space to the subject to photograph him/herself without me interacting in it.
Later, then, I have taken my identity back with a strong act, a rip, a scream able to underline my action of taking back all that I had missed till then. It was the act of bringing back the picture to my personal icon.
The photograph starts a long time before the moment of holding the camera. We both need time to build a trustful relationship. This happens through words and acts of listening; it happens little by little
Women are often the main protagonists of your art. Your women seem both fragile and strong at the same time. You portray them naked, half-naked, or just through few details of their elegant bodies. By your intimate photographs, they seem to be able to unveil themselves totally. How could you reach this effect?
Just by listening to them.
How do you feel while taking picture? Could you tell us something about the relationship you build with models during the shooting?
The photograph starts a long time before the moment of holding the camera. We both (me as the photograph, and the model) need time to build a trustful relationship. This happens through words and acts of listening; it happens little by little by filtering all our nudities, something even scarier than the act of laying naked in front of a stranger. We are both a medium through which to reach ourselves. It is a dialogue, and it always will be.
We fall in love with our thoughts and our act of dreaming.
At the end, the photograph in itself is just the result of a study based on our difficulties in opening to the others in a sincere and spontaneous way.
Everything starts from my deep love for other people’s inner being.
A wild minimalism permeates your photography. Ethereal places and elegant skinny bodies emerge from blurry horizons where the sky mixes with the sea. The seaside can only be barely seen. Waves keep their methodical movement towards their temporal unicity. All seem permeated by silence and mystery. Spontaneously, your photographs arouse histories in the observer’s mind. How could you get to this final result? Do you follow a precise project while shooting or do you prefer to take photographs naturally?
I’m always looking for synthesis in my images. Everything starts from something extremely full, that gradually undresses. Excesses release. The centrality of the subject determines by itself the importance of the surrounding scene, in so creating by itself a sort of “non-time” inserted into a “non-place”.
While investigating ourselves, we get never to clear closed answers. On the contrary, the research leaves space for imagination and it makes other questions arise. In so doing, my images are the result of a number of questions I usually make to myself. They force me to accept and deny everything again.
I’ve never been interested in faces; they have always been as a mirror to me, where to drown.
Did it ever happened to you when you realize you have not your camera with you and you have just seen something very interesting to shoot?
I have always my phone with me, and I can take pictures with it.
Your next project.
I would like to be able to enter even more in my images. In a physically way, also. I’ve been working from almost one year on a new path, that includes just one single subject and a small amount of photographs, produced little by little. It’s a new, slow way to present myself, searching to stay clear headed.
At the same time, I’ve found again my interest in landscape. However, this time I’m not trying to speak about far unfamiliar places, as in the series “Mericans”. In the contrary, I’m investigating my land, a place so full of tales and familiar aspects that have always been part of my past. Photographs will be created while moving, taken directly from inside my car. The project will be a representation of my reality. I’m conceiving them as “Postcards”.
Your main flaw and quality.
Egocentric and self-centered.
Make a wish.
I wish it was tomorrow already.
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