Flicking through Michele Vittori’s photos, at random, as if selecting chapters for an imaginary opera omnia, an underlying idea strikes the eye. It breathes through each photograph – each photograph falling into place in the order of things – combining photographic interest with opportunities for collaboration and unexpected natural events.
This artist-explorer, born not far from Rome in Sabinia, has focused his attention on his home territory. He documents a journey as much physical as mystical in his research, referring to an ideal “personal geography” that spreads like an oil stain from the capital to the mountains of Rieti and the Central Apennine Chain.
“La Montagna di Roma” takes exactly the same route through this geographical and historical visual map. Vivid colors and cold tones, shots of roads meandering through wooded hillsides or cutting through wintry forests of hornbeam; a patchwork of fields sewn together with barbed wire and fence poles, horses grazing in the mist, a solitary road sign planted in a snow-covered escarpment. Buildings or simple footprints of the passage of generations on Monte Terminillo, a place dear to our artist since childhood, as well as a tourist destination in vogue in the Twenties of the last century and developed under the Fascist Regime. The metamorphosis of the locality emerges from the ensemble of the photographs, evoking through the scars on the landscape a sort of archeology of mass tourism. Michele also reminds us of participating in the collective “Limine – Guide to the Limits of a City”, together with 6 other photographers, later published as a limited edition under the supervision of Massimo Siragusa.
Traces of the past, memories of a place are facets that the photographic shot is able to imprint in a gesture that will be symbolic to a viewer more or less sensitive to the subject portrayed. Michele’s art amplifies the sensation that the individual feels part of a whole, expanding his own experience to that of a citizen of the world. “La Montagna di Roma” goes further in developing this bond by presenting a chronological arc that invites us to meditate deeply on the history of the entire Italian nation.
The American philosopher and poet Henry David Thoreau has illuminated the photographer’s strong interest in what intrinsically links Man and Nature. A fragile purity can be restored through contact with a pristine environment, something increasingly difficult to find in modern urban life. Our photographer borrows the title “Walking” from Thoreau for one series, suggesting that the intervention of Man who shares a common space must always go hand in hand with the rhythm that marks the life of that place before his arrival. Michele’s photography is therefore less a denunciation than an invitation to contemplation; it invites us, with the past as a point of departure, to reflect about the future in a constructive way. In fact, his closeness to home allows him to descend in depth all the more, giving the survey more essential energy.
Images as moments of suspension, views and landscapes as a call to reconciliation, respect and appreciation of everything the planet has to offer.
Written by Costanza Francesconi
Images © Michele Vittori