Focus on: Domingo Milella for 2016 – On New Italian Photography

Time is the fundamental subject of Domingo Milella’s work. In his often large-scale photographs, traces of the past take the form of a universal writing, which melts with the language of photography to narrate the history of humankind through its relationship with space.

Inhabiting, transforming, interpreting and creating are the recurrent actions that determinate Milella’s imaginary and research. The two photographs on view in 2016 – On New Italian Photography, both taken in Turkey, put the viewer right in front of the roots of his species and of civilization itself, representing an authentic moment of transition.

Kizildag, Monument of Hartapu, Turkey, 2013

Kizildag, Monument of Hartapu, Turkey, 2013

F: What was your first approach to photography?
DM: During a travel to Egypt, I must have been 10 years old. There, I started using, carrying, wanting to make pictures… I had a small plastic Minolta, so simple, so precious. A toy, a weapon.

F: Who or what had an influence on what you do?
DM: When I was 18 years old, I purchased Cityscapes by Gabriele Basilico (1999), then I walked into the old MoMA, where there was Andreas Gursky’s first retrospective exhibition, and that was it. Everything came along with that, in the shape of the Bechers and their legacies, Stephen Shore, Joel Sternfeld, Jeff Wall and a lot more that has nothing to do with photography, yet it does, like the Lightning Fields of Walter de Maria (1977), they changed my idea of what art is; I was just 16.

Arsemia,Turkey, 2013

Arsemia, Turkey, 2013

F: What stories do you like to tell?
DM: I know it’s hard to grasp, but I am interested in Time. The Shape of Time. Photographs are a lot about time, we forgot that, we are busy with fancy pictures which relate to vanity and narcissism much more than we could ever admit. I like pictures that make me relate with otherness, or that somehow make things I can not see turn visible, like time. I guess photographs can deal with this problem in order to make the invisible a little less ghostly. Isn’t this publication called Fantom?!

F: What is the best photobook you have seen so far?
DM: Basic Forms by the Bechers (2005) is simple, Strangers and Friends by Thomas Struth (1994) is good, but I do not love photobooks so much, even if photographers usually love photobooks. I like books, sculptures, paintings, pages of meaning, with or without photographs. And I like encyclopedias a lot… They may be the best books with pictures so far.

F: What is the best exhibition you have seen recently?
DM: In The Age of Giorgione at the Royal Academy, last May in London. Yet I also like the new hanging of Mantegna and Bellini at Brera in Milan. Go pay a visit please, try again!

F: And the record you like the most?
Speaking in Tongues, by Talking Heads (1983).

F: What are your future projects?
DM: I am interested in Caves, early forms of picture-making and signs. Stuff before the last Ice Age is quite hot as well…

Topada, Inscriptions, Turkey, 2013

Topada, Inscriptions, Turkey, 2013

Domingo Milella, born in Bari in 1981, lives and works between Bari and London. After moving to New York, he studied photography at the School of Visual Arts under the guidance of Stephen Shore. Recent solo shows include Grimaldi Gavin (London, 2015), Tracy Williams Ldt (New York, 2014), Brancolini Grimaldi (London, 2012) and Orli Estremi di Qualche Età Sepolta, an exhibition curated by 3/3 at Palazzo Coiro (Castelmezzano, 2011). He takes part at group exhibitions such as Italy Inside Out at Palazzo della Regione (Milan, 2015), Esprit Mediterranéen at Pinacoteca di Bari (2011), Giovane Fotografia di Ricerca in Apulia at Fondazione Museo Pino Pascali (Bari, 2011), Egosistemi – Nature Becomes Art at Palazzo Panichi (Pietrasanta, 2011). In 2014 he published his first comprehensive monograph with Steidl, Domingo Millella, and in 2015 he was one of the curators of the group exhibition Tempo al Tempo at Roman Road in London.

Domingo Milella's self-portrait, Bari, 1999.

Domingo Milella’s self-portrait, Bari, 1999.

Photographing Topada, Summer 2013 © Rocco Lanzavecchia