Domus Summer

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The rediscovery of lake holidays in Carmen Colombo’s photographs

Apparently simple images frame fragments of everyday life that tell much more than what they show in this unconventional summer.

August always brings the longed-for vacations, at least in Italy. Among the various pleasures rediscovered by Italians because of (therefore, thanks to) the anti–Covid19 restrictions there is that of holidays at home, looking for savings but also for undervalued places, that may be meccas for foreign tourists but to us aren't that appealing as a trip abroad.

Depending on taste, sea and mountains are always in first place, but there is a geographical typology that often unjustly takes second place, and that is being reevaluated this summer: the lake.

From the great and renowned lakes in the north to the lesser known ones in central and southern Italy and the delicious little masses of water scattered all across the mountains, the most important thing to do is to reserve a place to stay in this setting classically chosen by British and German toursists, rich habitués of our inland coasts.

In her most recent work, realized in June 2020, the photographer Carmen Colombo has dedicated her attention to the most famous and popular lakes: Como, Maggiore and Garda.

Focusing in particular on what could be defined "the not decisive moment", Colombo has extrapolated scenes of daily life from what, if it wasn't for the deliberately inaccurate shots and the vertical cut, could be postcards of a perhaps not very classic but certainly very Italian summer.

These fragments with an unpretentious aesthetic — unlike most contemporary social landscape photography, and perhaps with a glance at our origins, from Ghirri to Guidi — almost seem to have been taken from a holiday film, those that were shot in Super8 or, more dramatically, in VHS–C.

Colombo's vertical photographs, however, not only represent better that light but typical lake claustrophobia than, say, the horizontal ones, more suitable for big sea vedutas, but they also do something more: they metaphorically tell the limits of one, the first of our story, post–lockdown holiday, and those interpersonal, physical and conceptual boundaries, that many people want to (and already many have not hesitated to) overcome.

What comes out is a story of contained serenity, of repressed joy, of condensed freedom, a desire to escape veined with a melancholy that goes beyond the boundaries of the lake and is configured as a feeling destined perhaps to go beyond the limits of the season.

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