Part of the “A Cielo Aperto” project, the workshop held by Maurizio Montagna in Latronico, Italy, made an attempt to debunk the concept of “documentary” photography.

Maurizio Montagna, SCENERY//Scenari, Latronico, 2017
The “SCENERY // scenari” workshop held in Latronico, Basilicata by Maurizio Montagna was part of the “A Cielo Aperto” project organised by Pasquale Campanella and Bianco-Valente under the sponsorship of the cultural association Vincenzo De Luca. The idea was to invite participants to create photos inspired by the landscape of this Southern Italian region, while involving visitors, inhabitants and tourists in the initiative. The informative part of the workshop offered an introduction to the differences between documentary photography and staged photography. The blurry divide between the two expressive methods (reality and make-believe) was the subject of analysis. Comparisons were made between the work of Richard Misrach, Joel Sternfeld, Gregory Crewdson and Cindy Sherman.


By exploring the diverse artistic approaches of these American photographers, the workshop made an attempt to debunk the concept of “documentary” photography. It drew attention to the fact that a photographer’s every action is executed by means of expedients that have a fundamental role toward achieving a deceptively perfect result. Participants were asked to formulate an image involving the genius loci and a wide range of portrayal techniques. With the help of my assistant, the young performance artist Beatrice Zen, we constructed stage sets based on different locations and interpretations to be enacted when it was time to take the photographs.

Img.9 Maurizio Montagna, <i>SCENERY//Scenari</i>, Latronico, 2017
Img.9 Maurizio Montagna, SCENERY//Scenari, Latronico, 2017
The work produced is the result of two days of photography by the participants with the collaboration of several extras, who were invited to act out a certain role. The participants’ imagination gave a disorienting interpretation to the scenery of Latronico: a boy fishing amid the rooftops casts his line into the alleys below; a woman with a tennis racket is confronted with a fence too high for her stroke; a pretty girl waits expectantly for someone new to arrive at a fruit stand on a hot summer’s day. These are the names of the creators and performers who took part in this wonderful, instructive experience: Felice De Luca, Pasquale Campanella, Giuseppe Giacoia, Elena Zottola, Beatrice Zen, Daniela Zottola, Alessandra Lofrano, Alessia Cirigliano, Rita and Adele De Luca, Elisabetta De Luca, Veronica Rossi and Marco Campanella.
Img.10 Maurizio Montagna, <i>SCENERY//Scenari</i>, Latronico, 2017
Img.10 Maurizio Montagna, SCENERY//Scenari, Latronico, 2017
Maurizio Montagna uses large-format cameras to photograph the urban landscape and architecture. He explores different types of photographic expression, creating multilayered relations between visual language and representation. His work calls into question the documentary potential of photography. He has participated in numerous exhibitions, including “Fundamentals”, the 24th Venice Architecture Biennale, 2014; and “Verso il Mediterraneo – Sezioni del paesaggio da Salerno a Reggio Calabria” at Palazzo Poli in Rome, 2016. He has received many awards. Monographs of his work are Albedo, The Plan Editore, 2004; Billboards, Damiani Editore, 2008; Giulio Minoletti Architetto, Schine Editore, 2009; and Aldo Andreani – Architetture, immagini, visioni, Electa Architettura, 2016

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