Interview by Claudia Bigongiari
All photos © Davide Cerretini
Davide Cerretini (b. 1995) is an analog photographer and darkroom technician from Tuscany where he developed most of his imaginary. Around his lands he describes an Italian ‘reverie’ filled with tradition, questions about the past and the future with its changing. He uses photography as an investigation means, and documentary to understand the relationship between human and landscape. He’s been selected as one of the 2020 best emerging photographers in Europe. Some of his works have been shown in Paris at Galerie Joseph, in London at Bricklane Gallery and in Amsterdam at Wester Gas Gallery, and published in various magazines like Vogue Italia, C41 Magazine.
Hello Davide, first of all welcome to Pellicola!
Italian photographer and darkroom technician, tell us about your education. Where the photographic and analog passion come from? Maybe someone in your family?
As far as I remember my photographic journey started as a simple hobby but then, without even realising it, I was always expecting more from the photo I was taking and it was at that point that I realised that the matter was more serious than expected. I am totally self-taught, which is a lie that many tell ourselves, since even without a standardised path, approaching photography requires a huge study at least, as far as I’m concerned.
You’re very young and your activity has already moved across fashion, documentary and reportage. Where are you professionally located right now? What do you like the most?
Thank you for the young man, having started taking pictures only three years ago, I often have the feeling of being old compared to where many of my colleagues are. I cannot give a complete evaluation about fashion photography because i’ve never did anything like big commercials, I think it is a genre of photography that is impossible to define in itself as you work in a team and the quality of time depends a lot on factors unrelated to photography. I would certainly like to develop this field more, even if documentary photography remains the one that gives me the greatest satisfaction.
Can you describe your photographic process. Are there some specific elements that make a good day to take pictures? Or it’s more random? Which camera or cameras do you use?
I use photography as a philosophical investigation method, usually inspiration comes from something that gives me a question or at least a certain curiosity. At that point I begin to inquire about this topic, looking for as many implications as possible. When I have collected my informations, I set myself an itinerary and the rest comes by itself. What fascinates me about photography is precisely this, it allows you to investigate anything in an intuitive way, it is the reality shown by itself. I am mostly using a Mamiya 6 and a large format camera.
Concerning your project Apologia della mia terra d’origine, a documentation of your native lands in Tuscany. It’s often easier to start photographing from what is around us in the everyday. What did you learn about your places? And about yourself?
I must admit that photographing what is familiar to me was not easy at all, to identify and isolate the specific elements that give rise to certain moods was really challenging. As I said before, I live photography as a method of investigation, to get to those photographs it was necessary to take others first, and each one led to the next, until I became aware of what and how I wanted to tell.
I’m form Tuscany too, my eye is always captured by its warm palette that gives a timeless, vintage atmosphere. Everything looks like history, dusty. Which kind of history would you like to tell with this project?
There are two levels of interpretation at the base of these photographs, two stories that run in parallel, on one side the particular town of Tuscany where I grew up, with its mentality and its values; at the same time, however, I would like these photos to also tell a more universal story about what we all as “Westerners” are losing. Each photo shows a particular and proper element of Tuscan culture but as the particular nostalgic aspect is evident, I would like even those who are not part of this world to wonder about the changes that are gradually taking place in their reality. And from this, the universal question arises: what is the price of this projecting forward without a goal?
Tuscany is made by small communities with strong traditions, you seem to have centred everything, the kitchen, rurality, art, books, the bar. Did you meet and talk with people and their history during the project. Or was it more about your traditions?
I always try to find someone who is part of the reality I want to photograph to guide me while I photograph. That is precisely the magic, to photograph something while talking about it, to look as deep as possible. This is the point, photography is a means, the point of arrival is somewhere else.
There is one picture I really liked: “back to the future” mural on the maybe railway wall. These communities with their strong tradition seem stuck in time. And the 80s title looks like a reminder of the time flow on one hand and a vintage movie postcard on the other hand. Do you agree with that?
I am happy you asked me about this photo, it is one of my favourites. Without being too theatrical, it fully sums up the soul of the project regarding Tuscany. Back to the future is a contradictory formula, like my hope in a future as similar as possible to the past. For me these are the most important photographs, they lead us to transcend the image, to move away from it and as David Lynch says “getting lost is wonderful”.
Part of the project focuses on Villaggio Piaggio, a village created in the 40s for Piaggio workers who moved from the rural areas. Especially in those pictures there is no hint of human being. Did you intentionally avoid people?
The idea behind the project was once again to investigate what remained authentic within that specific reality; the few people I met during the project were no different from those I could have met in any other Neighbourhood. And this is the core, what has remained authentically linked to that place? Only the objects, cause those who live there today have the same ideals, the same aspirations, the same desires of a person who lives in a big city. Homologation is leading to this, all cities are nothing more than the suburbs of a single city that you can now call Italy and over time we will call it the world.
I read that you run a no profit dark room. Nowadays it’s not very common to use the analog equipment, and unfortunately Italy is not the best place to pursue this professional road. Which is your position about that?
I noticed this lack of dark rooms in Italy when photographers much more important than me asked to use mine.
From my point of view it is a vital space, it goes beyond the simple photographic work, there are days I spend all night there, not only on my photographs but also just reading or smoking on the balcony. Surely in Italy it is not a big business but for me it is okay since I’m managing it just for the pleasure of teaching something I love to do.
Finally Davide, do you have something in mind for the future that you would like to share with us?
Unfortunately, as long as we are in this pandemic situation, talking about the future is risky because it can create false expectations. I hope to be able to realise a project on the Devil’s Valley here in Tuscany before the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death which will be next year, considering that those were the places that inspired his vision of a smoking hell.
I also hope next year to be able to realise my dream and be represented by an agency and finally make this passion a full time job.
Thank you for your time Davide, I hope you enjoyed the interview!
Thank you for taking time for me.