Between the late 1970s and mid-1980s, Luigi Ghirri made a series of photographs meditating on the landscape of his native Italy, all within the grounds of a single theme park in Rimini, Emilia-Romagna. The popular tourist destination Italia in Miniatura presents scale models of Italy’s major natural and architectural landmarks, brought together in surreal proximity. Ghirri photographed this fabricated world with a characteristic sensitivity for visual coincidence and irony, illusion and reality, ambiguity and artifice. Reflecting on photography’s own processes of shrinking and representing, these images are among Ghirri’s most distinctive, playful, and conceptually compelling.
This new book presents the entirety of Ghirri’s In Scala series, expanded with numerous previously unseen images, and places them in conversation with work by the park’s founder and designer, Ivo Rambaldi. Rambaldi’s maps, sketches, collages, and reference images, made on exhaustive research trips across Italy, offer an analogous exploration of the possibilities and paradoxes of miniaturisation. Their frank functionality resonates with Ghirri’s embrace of the perspective and tools of the ama-teur. From the dialogue between these meticulous works of representation and fabrication we discover the possibility that, in Ghirri’s words, ‘Perhaps it’s in this very space, one of total fiction, that truth is concealed’.
This publication is brought together by curators Ilaria Campioli, Joan Fontcuberta, and Matteo Guidi, and includes new essays by the curators and by author Simon Garfield. It is completed by a series of images by photographer and theorist Joan Fontcuberta in response to Ghirri’s and Rambaldi’s encounters with the park.
This catalogue accompanies Luigi Ghirri’s solo exhibition “Works from the 1970s” at Taka Ishii Gallery and is centered around photographs created during the 1970s, arguably Ghirri’s most important creative period. By redefining photography as a concept and as an act, Ghirri’s work has played an important role in expanding the possibilities of visual art. The photographs chosen for the catalogue, created and published by Taka Ishii Gallery and Case Publishing, capture and represent Ghirri’s views at the outer and inner world, the relationship between reality and metaphysical duality and the distance between reality and representation expressed in Ghirri’s works.
Ghirri spent his youth in the 1950s and 1960s, during a time of economic growth and cultural transition. He familiarized himself with art at this time, and through conceptual art, one of the most popular movements of the era, he began making photographs collaboratively with other artists pursuing photographic images that were not merely documentary recordings. Founded on experimentalism, Ghirri’s photographic practice is neither characterized by the professionalism of the studio photographer nor the amateurism of the photo fan. Through photography, he aimed to address the complexity and incomprehensibleness of the relation between the self and outside world. He trained his gaze at his subjects to acknowledge his positioning between the known and unknown.
The themes and concepts addressed in Ghirri’s works are exceptionally diverse, but his photographs constitute a series of dialectical explorations focused on “the gaze.” Through his practice, he ceaselessly, intensively, and gracefully explored the relation between reality and image. His photographs demonstrate that images, such as ads and posters in public spaces, can be analytically categorized into “images turned into reality” and “reality turned into images.” They also show that the partial extraction and erasure of the world through framing exposes the ambiguous boundaries of reality and the changing form of the landscape, and that images projected by the viewer both produce and erase the actual and fantastic. Ghirri’s photographs are products of a search for harmony and diversity carried out by examining metaphysical binaries, such as reality and appearance (or mimicry), actuality and representation, presence and absence, and inner and outer worlds, at the same level. They indicate that photographs are not faithful reproductions of the world, but rather an assemblage of fragments of the “seen” world. His works thus suggest that all photographs are testimonies of the gaze and pose an infinite number of questions about how we might think through the image.
Puglia. Tra albe e tramonti offers a brilliant account of Luigi Ghirri’s relationship with Puglia — a distinctive region at the heel of Italy, which was pivotal in establishing Ghirri’s career and continued to inspire him throughout it. A first visit in 1982 introduced Ghirri to Puglia’s whitewashed streets, luminescent nights, doorways and arches, potted cacti, funfairs, and beaches, as well as a group of artists, critics, and curators who would become his close friends and collaborators. Over the following decade, Ghirri returned to the area almost every year, photographing, exhibiting, and deepening his understanding of its subtle terrain. These photographs, almost all of which are little-known and previously unpublished, capture the textures and rhythms of urban life, delighting in visual coincidence and tactile detail. Their sense of quiet discovery — and the colour film on which they are shot — allude warmly to the area’s identity as a popular holiday destination. Ghirri maps the Apulian territory via the traces left by its inhabitants and visitors in images flooded with the distinctive light of Southern Italy – the bright sun and its eloquent shadows, and the otherworldly aura of neon and streetlights after dark.
With texts by Adele Ghirri and Arturo Carlo Quintavalle. Text in Italian and English.
Printed paperback with jacket comprising pre-dyed paper with tipped in image