Friday, 27 August 2010

Portfolio and Partisans.

Milan is the ultimate cat walk city. Years ago Paola took me to the Piccolo theatre to see a Pirandello play (what else?) and I was gob smacked how the audience paraded in all their finery across the playing space during the interval. Twenty years on the whole place is as obsessed as ever with capturing a shape, a moment and holding it, only to dissolve and create something else. Unlike Florence or Venice the past doesn't seem to matter much here. The present seems to be everything. People are caught for a second, savoured and sold on by the tipped acknowledgement of a hat or the release of a gentle head nod. It's a city of elegant voyeurs all clocking each other. The line, the cut, the frame all hold Milan in a perpetual narcissism.

I spent some of today looking at Paolo's latest portfolios of work which he's taking to a photo journalist conference in Perpignan next week. He's got two offerings - one a series of young footballers who play on the church owned oratory pitches and a second of the faces of Rugby players mid-action taken during the 2007 World Cup. They're both interesting in their own way but his best work was a tender collection of portraits of six women partisans from the resistance whose stories he's recorded in order to get them to pose for pictures. I was, of course very excited by the interviews, especially as we listened to them whilst looking at the pictures. Paolo hadn't really thought they could be useful beyond a lever to get the old ladies to trust him, but the combination of their sure voices and Paolo's beautiful images gave the work an incredible poignancy. Both Paola and I pleaded with him to take the whole package to France, but Paolo felt nervous, claiming he didn't have enough material. Perhaps it's something he needs to incubate for the future? I hope so, there's something very important there.

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