Norway by Leonardo Magrelli


Norway is where I finally lost all my naivety about the hopes I used to put on photography. I went there last March, and spent two weeks. At that time, which is not too long ago, I already had what seemed to me a consistent basic knowledge regarding photography and all the theories surrounding the topic. It was clear to me how photography is both truth and lie, and I was deeply fascinated by this ambiguity of the medium. I knew how the myth of its clear and apparently honest visuality, capable of persuading to be an incontrovertible fact, is long gone. I knew also how most photographies can be weak without a strong idea holding them together in a project. Something far away from a series of holiday pictures. And I knew also that both the new topographers and the new Color Photography did something more than just recording how the human presence is shaping the contemporary everyday landscape. So adopting their documentary style doesn’t justify or guarantee the worth of a picture. Furthermore, I was aware of how futile is to produce new images, given the saturation we are reaching, in a world that is fully mapped and where everything has already been photographed.


All this I knew. But when I arrived in the Lofoten Islands none of the things above mattered anymore. The quality of the light was unbelievable, the beauty of the places overwhelming. I had never seen anything like that. The only thing I felt was the urge to take pictures, the urge to record what I was seeing, in the vain hope that I could really go back home with something to look at that made me feel like I was still there. How naive! And how curious is to see how fast we can forget what we know. But maybe even a respectful ecologist, in front of the most beautiful flower, feels the desire to pick it. Of course it was impossible for me to record exactly what I saw in Norway, and I can’t find in my pictures what I witnessed there. The accuracy of photography is a failed promise. I tried to work on the shoots, using memory and post production – ironically two of the best means of falsification! – to approximate as much as I could to what I recalled. The task was impossible. What I witnessed there will remain there. The pictures turned out good, but different. They are something else, as photography always is.