this issue contains
>> Made in Italy
>> At the Seaside: Massimo Vitali
>> Real Romanticism: Alberto Garutti
>> Interview Angelika Stepken

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Massimo Vitali, Taotec, 1997,
Courtesy Brancolini Grimaldi/©Massimo Vitali

It was a concrete occasion that induced him to investigate the silent majority’s recreational rituals. "It had happened on August 2, 1994, right after Berlusconi was elected. I found myself in a state of shock. How could that have happened? I was on holiday on the beach of Marina Pietrasanta in Tuscany. All of sudden I made the decision to take a closer look at my compatriots." In contrast with his German colleague Andreas Gursky, who often shows the protagonists of his large-scale images at their workplaces, Vitali is only attracted to the sites of collective pleasure – to the crowded sandy beaches of Italian vacation spots such as Riccione or Rimini, to shopping centers and the discotheques where the masses crowd the dance floors. No one is ever alone in his images; people are always a part of a crowd.

Massimo Vitali, Rosignano Diptych, 2004,
Courtesy Brancolini Grimaldi/©Massimo Vitali

Vitali’s beach pictures are anything but idyllic postcard views. The distanced perspective, their glowing brightness and vast depth of field make the compositions appear strangely unreal, although the photographer does not rework them on the computer. In his Riccione Diptychon, endless rows of red and blue chaise longues stretch out to the horizon; adjacent to this are high-rise angular apartment houses and hotel blocks. The sun shines, the sand shimmers in white, the sky and sea are a brilliant blue. Despite this, you’d never happen upon this tableau of mass tourism as a poster in a travel agency.

Rosignano Night, Rosignano, Italy, 2004,
Courtesy&©Massimo Vitali

Rosignano Night shows an overfilled nocturnal beach. The youth is alone here: teenagers hang around in small groups, lie on the beach, drink and dance, while in the background, steam emits from the cooling towers of a huge chemical factory steeped in pale yellow light. An almost apocalyptic scene – arcadia is nowhere.

Massimo Vitali, Amadores, 2004,
Courtesy Brancolini Grimaldi/©Massimo Vitali

Nonetheless, Vitali’s works do not merely seek to record the degradation of nature to a mere backdrop or the behavior of a society based on mass consumption during recreational time: the formal and aesthetic facination of his compositions is too great for this. He’s also interested in showing a cosmos of human behavior and situations – a "Comédie humaine" of the leisure society. Vitali sees himself as a neutral observer who does not wish to pass judgement. "All I do is take note of what comes to me." In an interview with the online magazine Lensculture, he describes his aim as follows: "My idea is that these pictures will be used by sociologists fifty years from now to understand what is happening today."

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