Federico Clavarino works with symbols. His photographs, often close-ups, represent one subject at a time, a detail, and place it firmly in front of the viewer, leaving no chance to distraction. They are the playing cards of an unknown game, forming a syncopated and hyperbolic narration. The Castle is a series dedicated to Europe. Starting from its history, the signs it has left on the skin of the cities or hid in protected museum rooms. In and out. Visible and invisible. Body and mind. Up to those elements that identify an entire culture, working alternatively as principles of sharing and separation. The castle is a closed, mysterious structure. It is impenetrable and yet, from the top of its walls, you can see all around.
F: What was your first approach to photography?
FC: Taking photographs of things that I felt looked like photographs.
Taking photographs of things that I wished could survive as photographs.
Creating groups and sequences of photographs I hoped would point towards some meaning that I was not able to express otherwise.
F: Who or what had an influence on what you do?
FC: My father, mother and brother, my mentors and my friends, but also a lot of people I never got to know, both dead and alive. Also books, photographs and other things men and women make, but above all sudden revelations and unexpected encounters.
F: What do you photograph?
FC: All sorts of things. Usually everyday, common things. One thing I like about photography (and poetry) is how it is able to endow what is apparently banal and insignificant with a kind of strangeness. To recognise the world means to grasp its contradictory, problematic aspects. All photographs are enigmas, photography is the art of the fragmentary and of the elliptical, and a book or exhibition of photographs is very much like an unsolved criminal investigation: it is not enough to be the truth, yet it is all we know about the truth.
F: What is the best photobook you have seen so far?
FC: All the ones I wished to make but failed to make.
F: What is the best exhibition you have seen recently?
FC: Goshka Macuga’s To the Son of Man Who Ate the Scroll at Fondazione Prada in Milan.
F: And the record you like the most?
FC: There is no such thing, but Pink Moon (Nick Drake, 1972) gets rather close.
F: What are your future projects?
FC: There is one, Hereafter, which is about my grandparents, but also about fishing for aubergines in the Nile in the 50s in Sudan, and about Said Bin Taimur, Sultan of Oman, checking into the Dorchester Hotel, and a whole bunch of other interesting things, including life after death. There is also another one for which I have no title yet, which has to do with an archipelago, a rhinoceros, a famous pilot, a fictitious prisoner and above all with time travel.
Federico Clavarino, born in Turin in 1984, lives and works in Madrid. After completing a Master in Literature and Creative Writing at the Holden School in Turin, in 2007 he moved to Madrid, where he studied photography at the BlankPaper School and began to develop his own photographic projects, following the courses of the photographer Fosi Vegue, founder and director of the school. Since 2011 he has worked at the BlankPaper School, where he teaches photography. His first book Ukraina Pasport (Fiesta Ediciones) received a mention of honour as best photographic book of the year at the PhotoEspaña Award 2011. In 2014, together with the publishing house Akina Books, he published his second project, Italia O Italia, of which the original prints were put on display in 2015 at FOTOGRAFIA – Festival Internazionale di Roma. He was supported by the La Caixa Foundation FotoPres, with which he began to work on a new project, Hereafter, due to be completed in 2017. His latest work, The Castle, is displayed for the first time in Italy, and in April 2016 it was published in book form by the Spanish publishing house Dalpine. Since 2016, Clavarino’s work has been represented by Viasaterna. federicoclavarino.com
Conversation with Dalpine, Federico Clavarino and Michele Tagliaferri Tuesday, September 6 at 7 pm Viasaterna Via Leopardi 32, Milan www.viasaterna.com