Interview with photographer Vanni Pandolfi
F-Stop Magazine: How did you first become involved in photography and what led to you working in this medium as an artist?
Vanni Pandolfi: I can’t explain why. It was a magnetic encounter. It all began when as a child I found a disposable plastic film camera as a gift with a box of chocolate. From that moment on I have always loved Photography, its magic. I still have those shots I took at the age of about 7. At the beginning, photography was only magic for me, then growing up it has become existential support, a means of expression and reflection, an instrument of awareness.
F-Stop: The current issue of F-Stop Magazine includes images from your project “New Light,” can you tell us about this project? What led to this work?
VP: This work comes from a personal/existential need, from an “enlightened” awareness of myself and the world around me. A world that unfortunately is moving rapidly towards a dimension dominated by profit, the economy, excessive materialism and consumerism. Man has now become an empty simulacrum to be filled with inputs and stimuli that come from external entities whose sole purpose is to make him above all a consumer rather than an individual. Empty of that spiritual and unique dimension, we are witnessing a global acceptance of man who is manufactured according to standards created by the world of marketing and economics. Having become aware of all this “New Light” is therefore a personal and universal need. “New Light” is change, a revelation and enlightenment that makes us understand the importance and the need to modify our personal conduct; it is a light that makes thinking clear, a protection from the crazy social mechanisms and of the consumer society where everything is now a commodity.
F-Stop: What is your process for making these images or your creative process more generally? How do you choose what to photograph, what are you looking to capture?
VP: First of all, I start from a profound reflection on the issues I want to address. I write texts that help me to externalize my thoughts. Putting what I have inside on paper is also a way to further develop my reflection because paper helps me to add and merge more and more reflections. Then when the concept has completely filled me, I choose the most suitable places, the most appropriate scenography for the thematic core. And I take whole days alone, walking a lot and drinking. Alcohol helps me to “feel” with greater intensity those connections and meanings hidden in the web of reality. It is a meditative process that abstracts me and detaches me from the particular reality, projecting me into a more universal and all-encompassing dimension.
F-Stop: How would you describe your work to someone viewing it for the first time?
VP: It is essentially a reflection on the truest and most profound part of us all. It is an awareness, and perhaps it is showing a way.
F-Stop: Do you have a favorite image in this series? If so, which one and why is it the image that speaks to you most?
VP: I am attached to all of the photographs equally. They all have an important meaning. There is the love of my life, our moments together, there is nature that can save us, the chaos of the world, the fragile human existence in its life/death cycle, the image of my family from which I came and then allusions to my personal fall and rebirth. In short, all the photographs make up a more general mosaic where the whole is more than the simple sum of the parts.
F-Stop: Are you working on any other projects currently?
VP: “New Light” is a long project that will be divided into several chapters. I’m currently working on its development and I’m thinking about the rest of the first chapter. At the same time, however, there is also another long-term project on Iran called the “Diptychs of Iran” that I will work on in 2022. In fact, another trip to that magical land is planned.
F-Stop: What photographers or other artists inspire you?
VP: I am a great lover of the History of Photography and all of its main protagonists. I think each of them has influenced me in some way. For “New Light,” certainly on a technical level, Giuseppe Cavalli with his highlights was fundamental, even if in my project I wanted to push much more, taking some photographs to the limit of perception. I did this not for a stylistic exercise but for a narrative need. The “New Light” must purify everything, it must annihilate matter. It has to flood it and transmute it.
Returning to the authors who have influenced me, in addition to knowing and following the work of great authors and professionals, over the years I have built my own network of “minor” amateurs and photographers from whom I learn a lot through an almost daily sharing of our works. I believe that even this “minor” “unknown” photograph of great personal vocation was absolutely important for my works.
To see more of Vanni Pandolfi’s work check out the Portfolio 2021 issue of F-Stop or visit: www.pandolfivanni.it
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