Focus on: Milo Montelli, Skinnerboox for 2016 – On New Italian Photography

Skinnerboox is an independent publishing house founded by Milo Montelli in Jesi (Ancona, Italy) in 2014. Dedicated to contemporary photography and its multiple forms, Skinnerboox has published fourteen books by Italian and international photographers so far, many of which have been selected by photography professionals and magazines among the best photobooks of 2015.

We asked a few questions to Milo Montelli, the first of a series of conversations with the artists and publishers presented in our current exhibition 2016 – On New Italian Photography, running through September 16 in Viasaterna, Milan.

F: What was your first approach to photography?
MM: My first encounter with photography has to do with the slides my parents used to stow away at home. I used to spend a lot of time looking at them, just by holding them against the light, as the projector was becoming obsolete at the time. After ten years I started taking pictures, more or less consciously.

F: Who or what had an influence on what you do?
MM: I think my experience with the slides influenced me, in the sense that photography was something usual and heart-felt in my family. As an Italian, I started studying photography through Ghirri’s work, which led me to my interest towards photobooks, years later. The Internet had an important role, too, as it helped me build a network of peers who were starting to develop a serious interest in photography, just like me. In those years, the early 2000s, I met some of the people with whom I still share interests and experiences today.

F: What stories do you like to tell?
MM: I can’t tell stories, which is why, as a publisher, I entrust others to do so, with their vision and their approach to photography. In fact, the artists I appreciate the most often work in an antinarrative manner, thus the viewers are invited to build themselves a story. The narrative can be an infinite loop, which does not conduct anywhere at a first sight. Those books, the ones that leave more possibilities open, are the ones that interest me the most. This, for instance, will be the theme of one of Skinnerboox’s upcoming books.

F: What does it mean to be independent?
MM: It means to be free of outer conditionings. However, I realize it is getting more and more difficult to be so, especially when it comes to money – even if little – and to the possibility of surviving in the first place.

F: What is the best photobook you have seen sofar?
MM: I find it increasingly hard to find surprising photobooks. My collection is growing backwards: I buy fewer books, and the ones I buy date back to ten years ago at least. However, among the most recent, I’d say Atem by Massimiliano Rezza (Yard Press, 2015).

F: What is the best exhibition you have seen recently?
MM: A beautiful Joseph Beuys exhibition at Tate, London.

F: And the record you like the most?
MM: I wouldn’t know what to say, I am helpless when it comes to music. At the moment I listen to WOW by Verdena while I drive and, given the time I spend in my car, it happens more than once a day. It has been so for a few months now. I guess I like that one.

F: What are your future projects?
MM: We are working on three new books, and each is very different from the other. This is my main challenge with Skinnerboox, to give voice to the multiple forms of contemporary photography.

Conversation with Skinnerboox, Alessandro Calabrese, Federico Ciamei and Vittorio Mortarotti
Wednesday, June 22 at 7 pm
Via Leopardi 32, Milan
Read here our feature on Skinnerboox's birth in 2014

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Skinnerboox office in the countryside of Jesi, Ancona. All images © Skinnerboox