Fotografia Europea 2019 - Off

Reggio Emilia State Record Office, corso Cairoli n. 6 - Municipality of Reggio Emilia

13 April - 7 June 2019 - Exhibitions

FE_2019 Locandina

    Monday - Friday: 9,30 - 12,30

    Special opening times:

    Saturday 13 April:  17,00 - 20,00

    Sunday 14 April:    17,00 - 20,00





Fotografia Europea 2019



Intimacy, relationships, new worlds


         The theme of the 2019 edition of the Fotografia Europea festival works on the individual and the collective level, which often naturally merge into a single channel.

         Eighteenth-Century literature and philosophy represent here an ideal starting point. As a matter of fact, we might say that this edition starts from the images and legacies of one of the most beautiful novels in history, Choderlos de Laclos' Dangerous Liaisons, clashing and often merging with those of Henri Rousseau's On the Social Contract. In other words, it touches upon a wide variety of human relations: from sentimental relationships, which are more private in nature, to social ones, which naturally mostly take place in the public sphere.

          Relationships start from the private sphere and subsequently expand over public relations: family ties can be considered as the core of such elaboration, and it is well known how these relationships are, in contemporary society, subject to constant change of perspective (as Paul Ginsborg recently wrote: "In contemporary societies we find a first dichotomy between closed and open families, between self-referential family cores, which are basically focused on themselves, and others which are oriented, at least potentially, towards the outside, towards civil society*).


         These changes emerge even more clearly in the public sphere, where the concepts of relationships and bonding leave the intimacy that underlies interpersonal relationships, giving way to social and political behavior. Meaningfully, one of Rousseau's most famous definitions deals exactly with this specific area: "The problem is to find a form of association which will defend and protect with the whole common force the person and goods of each associate, and in which each, while uniting himself with all, may still obey himself alone, and remain as free as before''.

        Ontologically, bonding always go towards the other from within one's self. It occurs by a relationship transforming all those who are involved. From "me" we move to "us", and from "us" we move to "all of us", welcoming the other from within our horizon, a horizon that is not only ideal: by establishing these relations we define the society we live in.


         This is clearly a matter of extraordinary urgency: let it be understood in connection to the past (which level of alteration have we reached in the concept of bonding with territory, space and people, with the phenomena of urbanization still underway on a global level?) or as an insight into the future, in the evolution of a society like ours, currently reaching a new shape in this millennium (our relation with machines and artificial intelligence forces us to further think and re-establish what we know: this is no more science fiction but everyday reality)

         These premises allow us to frame endless conceptual and visual elaborations which, in photographic terms, might be summarized by the title of a recent book about the latest developments in photography, L'image partagée ("The Shared image") by Andre Gunthert, where the idea of photography modifies its nature because of the act of 'sharing' becoming an intrinsic element - which is the result of the new world created by technology. This profoundly influences our concept of intimacy, sometimes in a dramatic negative sense, thus bringing in itself, once again, an elaboration on the meaning of the term "bonding" in today's society.

        The program is also enriched by the OFF circuit: the free and independent section of Fotografia Europea, that springs from the spontaneous initiative of individuals, galleries, associations and public and private institutions, and that offers exhibitions and events all over the territory.





Another Po

 Arrivo all'isola

        “I have these sacred things”, the King of the Po emphasised to me, “I have the Po, I have Nature, I have Children, and I have Time; do those seem like such a small thing?” I could only imagine some details (I had not yet visited his creation) from drawings in his notebooks. One winter day, I went looking for the Isle of Pan, and when I found it, I found another world, but one which actually exists, built with the patience and vision that life on the river tells and teaches.


          6 April 2019 - Today I went back to find him and, as always, a few minutes later the visitors, unknown up to that point, began to arrive. The King of the Po leads them, without ever interrupting his stories, into the heart of his island – which he also calls Jolanda, referring to the daughter of the Black Corsair – and showing them the places to which he has given names: the Eighth Wonder, the Arena, and the Path of Love. The King of the Po tells stories and enchants. I can see it in their eyes – we are lucky today – that these are people who like to listen and who like fairy tales. 


         I sit on the bungee jump (my favourite, try it!), I jump, the wind picks up a bit,Bungee jumping it's still cold; I smile. The King of the Po states that when you come to his place, to his “zero thoughts” island, “You will go back to the age of three”, and it's true. I see them climbing the ladders with excitement, walking on the boardwalks to the platforms built on the trees, and smiling, they toss words at us from up there


         The Kind of the Po says that the Isle of Pan was created and built from 13 years of work to date (distracted by our visit today, the King did not work). “Look, today I had prepared these poles to reinforce that handrail... well, I'll do it tomorrow”. “But tomorrow it might rain, will you come here anyway?”. “There is no problem: water below and water above!”.

         The Po River is part of him and of his life – he came to Boretto when he was 2 years old. He tells us that his mother would prepare a tub with clothes to wash, load it up onto a cart, and put his little self on top of the pile of clothes, and they would spend the day at the river, returning in the evening.



Ponte         We look at the river and there is foam on the surface: the water is rising at last, after many days without rain, “The Po is always right when it rises; then I’m right when it goes down”. The King of the Po has built an “architecture of dreams”, as it was defined during a meeting dedicated to him, almost unbelievable if you think it has been made by one man, with poles and branches found in the river.


         “Last year I had built up to here, you see? And the Po, which was not in agreement, made me understand: In November, it crested at a full 7 metres and tore it away – the entire thing! – this part of the ship, all of it! And, since it was well built, it is certainly still on the river heading who knows where”. Visiting the Isle of Pan, you will discover that it is also a ship. Guests ask the King of the Po how old he is, and he responds, with a surprising quirk, “I won’t tell you my age. I tell you only that I was born in '42”.


         And while I imagine the cresting river, the water that reaches right up to the levee and the Isle of Pan disappearing, and the King of the Po who is peaceful because he knows that is the way things are, gets on his boat, grabs the oars, and goes up to the highest of his aerial platforms, and then supports, ties, and secures the boat and sits watching in silence.


         “This year's flood has brought me sand, you see, the river gave me a present. There is no more mud, the sand dries faster, and it is better for the children who come here to play”.Passerella_Particolare


         When you go to visit him, look at the hands of the King of the Po: they tell you how much he has built, carried, and nailed. It’s up to you to judge why, but I have an idea: it is his love of nature and freedom. I bid Alberto goodbye, since it is time for lunch







        But, yes, if you ask him, “What is your name?” he may respond, “Never mind my name; I'm the King of the Po”.



     Erika Sereni is an architect and photographer who lives and works in Colorno (PR). She has participated in the 2009 XIV Biennial for Young Artists from Europe and the Mediterranean in Skopje, the 2015, 2016 and 2018 editions of Off Circuit of European Photography in Reggio Emilia, the Athens Photo Festival in July 2015, and a number of competitions and group exhibitions. In 2012, she attended the Master’s course for Advanced Photography at IED Milano.






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