Piergiorgio Sorgetti (born in 1988) is an italian photographer based in Bologna, whose artistic investigation is a quite complex language made by instinct, memory, latency control and randomness. Photography to him is a kind of ritual where all these factors run together.
Researching images means ‘digging backwards into the sphere of the unconscious, dream and memory while dealing with reality’, two dimensions that always affect each other. That is what Piergiorgio Sorgetti calls ‘psychic archaeology’, a multilayer of mental space constantly confronting with the physical place. He doesn’t see photography as a determination, like it is commonly used, ‘as an attestation of an event or the construction of a memory’, but more as a question on the event, a fracture on its memories that he tries to deconstruct and reinterpret.
This ‘psychic archeology’ makes reflect on the ancient confusion/illusion photography creates between representation and reality, something that maybe will never find a final answer and that Piergiorgio Sorgetti prefers to solve with other questions.
In The Missing Eye (2019) he works with blind people since birth, people whose ‘eye’ is not affected by the reality itself. The idea base of the project was about an eye-object capable of processing images anyway, beyond the retinal impulse, as much as blind people process visual images in their dreams, coming from an innate visual memory.
Piergiorgio Sorgetti and Mattia Parodi, the other italian photographer who shared the 2 years of research with, collect a lot of pictures and analysis before reaching something close to the result: trying to develop an imaginary beyond the action of seeing with the eyes. ‘The Missing Eye is the proof of the importance of a non retinal image and of the sharing of all the senses with that of sight in the production of images’.
Rather than a physical eye it is a psychic eye, something that may be missing in the everyday but that reflects a way more complex and unconscious dimension. ’There is no explanation on where we find this eye that we declare lost, it is more a search for possible interactions with a look that, although natural, we often consider unreal’.
Independently of the visual apparatus, blind people are able to imagine in their dreams, but how? The rhythm of dream is discontinuous, different from the consequential rhythm of reality. Does it mean that images in there are unreal? One of Sorgetti sources of inspiration for The Missing Eye has been The Uncertainty of Dreams by Roger Collis: when you try to represent a dreamlike vision there is the constant desire to compare it with reality, inside the dream everything seems logical and realistic, it loses credibility only when we wake up. Photography itself is not so distant from this concept, even though ‘the indissoluble bond with its reference, flaunting its verisimilitude in detail, it makes produce an unlikely appearance’. In other words, dreams look so similar to the everyday as much as photography perfectly imitates the world, the trick is here, into this perfection and Piergiorgio Sorgetti tried to make it perceivable.
For this dream sphere the italian artist decided to avoid colour that ‘instinctively lead me to imagine a context or a particular emotional state’, the black and white instead refers to an ethereal mental place. The nonphysical eye builds a ‘sleepy image’ where only the compositional structure can be read. They are pictures where natural and cultural elements merge together, where the shape of eye is suggested as much as the contradiction of vision.
The preamble project of The Missing Eye is The Wound (2017) where again elements of different nature come together, this time in colour films, to make questions more than statements. Again, it is a project born by the collaboration with Mattia Parodi, natural bond since their years of study and influenced by the same artists and aesthetics.
If The Missing Eye proves itself in the sphere of the dream and unconscious, unknown, The Wound is a series made by what is always under our nose and familiar. The everyday landscape and city are described and presented as a body full of wounds, fractures, signs of passage, always there but never noticed, which Sorgetti and Parodi decide to explore through photography.
Those wounds create a sense of suspension, they are ambivalent objects, both an opening of the body-landscape to go in, and a fracture from where the blood comes out. They are thresholds.
Or as Sorgetti says ‘a latent trace of the complex plot this body-world is composed with’. The series is inspired by the Walter Benjamin’s Parisian Passages – that can be also a reference of The Missing Eye: here and there there is no space definition, no beginning or end (the dream is a flux, the wound a threshold), what is described is the in-between and its structure – and by the figure of the nymph evoked by Georges Didi-Huberman.
Piergiorgio Sorgetti’s photography doesn’t seem to miss anything. More complex the vision becomes, deeper he goes with his images-questions, the answer is in the process, in the fracture he opens to creates a communication between what is in the everyday around and what is hidden in the uncertainty of the mental space.
Text by Claudia Bigongiari
Images © Piergiorgio Sorgetti