INTERVIEW WITH BENEDETTA FALUGI, A MODERN-DAY WANDERER
Photography is experiencing a period of popularity and liveliness, both critical and expressive, and the art venues are hosting photographic exhibitions and collections with increasing frequency, while more festivals and thematic reviews are starting and multiplying. Also the awards and prizes are flourishing, aimed at enhancing the works of young people who choose to adopt this expressive medium in an ongoing search to catalogue and define the practice, or art, of photography. It is in this context that we can delineate the success of some genres that share a tendency to narrate and to follow a subjective approach, including Street Photography, which escapes definitions by embracing diverse styles and themes all united by the desire to portray reality in all its most authentic and intriguing variety.
To differentiate “street” from travel photography and reportage, into which it often encroaches, critics tend to remove it from the field of design, and highlight its instinctive and more “candid” nature, while, to distinguish it from the pure artistic photography, there is the tendency to emphasize its documentary and social intentions. It emerges, in fact, how this type of photography sets out to give a coherent picture of life as reflected in public places; a space (not necessarily a road) in which to read the signs of interaction between man and context, whether in a street, garden, beach, building, or a detail. The gaze of the street photographer is thus one which reveals humanity, which sees the unusual in everyday life, and which captures the moment in its most intimate, humorous or dramatic aspects.
Street Photography is highly democratic, anarchist even, and its impressions are amplified by the absence of formal and instrumental rules of a strict visual code. Unfettered as it is by the classical and academic canons of photography, Street Photography pursues the primary goal of recounting what the photographer has learned to anticipate by observing mankind: “I am uninterested by the rules of photography” claimed William Klein, the first major revolutionary in the history of Street Photography, and defined an anti-photographer for his self-taught approach, which cut straight across the grain of the great masters of the last century such as Henri Cartier Bresson and Elliott Erwitt.
Klein was a defender of his own and others’ “discordant” photographs which were too grainy, remorselessly cut, and sported exaggerated contrasts. Dying to be on the road is about dying to be alive and to be free, outside the box. Goals to achieve merely by wandering like an aimless vagabond, in a process of drifting: a process of gathering information and sensations that help us understand the space in which we have become lost. “The only way I know to approach a new place is to walk… and then to look again, trying to uphold the faith that the unknown, the unexpected or the secret heart of what I already know, are waiting for me just around the corner” said Alex Webb. An unwritten rule or, rather, an anti-rule interpreted individually by all the most important street photographers including (besides those already mentioned) Vivian Maier, Mary Ellen Mark, and Garry Winogrand in the past, and Mary Cimetta, Eric Kim, Nick Turpin, Martin Parr, Lucas Vasilikos and many more in the present.
It is clear that Street Photography is still a mostly male dominion despite having many elements in common with the female world and aesthetics. Giuliana Traverso, on talking about female photographers, said that “What distinguishes a woman photographer is that, before beginning to look outside, she looks inside.”
Benedetta Falugi, one of Italy’s (and not only) young street photographers, reiterates the introspective value of her work by telling us of her on-site experiences.
When I take photos, I let myself be guided by my instinct and mood. Sometimes, when I feel light of heart, I capture something that makes me smile; and when I feel melancholic, my eyes are caught by more nostalgic scenes. What I portray is what I am. And taking photos has always had a therapeutic effect on me; it’s a way to know myself better.
– How did you discover this passion? And how have you nurtured it?
Photography was a near-random but, from the outset, blazing discovery ever since I bought a small compact camera to take pictures of period furniture to help my mother in her antique shop. From that first “encounter” a true love story was born and I would go walking alone for hours, losing myself and taking hundreds of photos. It didn’t take long before I wanted to know more, so I began to study, get to know other photographers, and go to libraries and frequent websites like Flikr.
– Rather than on the “road”, a lot of your photographs are taken on beaches, in natural contexts, in water. Why is that?
I am often inspired by the places I know well. The beach belongs to my childhood as I grew up in Follonica, in the province of Grosseto. I have always had a special relationship with the sea and have been attracted to it strongly since my childhood. Under water, I love the feeling of isolation from the rest of the world, and the intense perception of myself and my own feelings. Sometimes I feel a real need to leap in, as a liberating gesture. It’s not very different from the need I feel to take photographs in water, whether below or above the surface. It all began as a beach game with a friend: we “hunted” to find the most interesting people on the beach. Sometimes one of us distracted our “prey” while the other took photos unnoticed. Later, I became more solitary and selective, which is why I prefer analogue to digital. It helps me be more reflective, and be better tuned in to what I see. That’s the allure for me.
– What other places or subjects allure you?
I don’t set any limits. I’ve lately been feeling the urge to break out of my comfort zone of taking the photos I have taken time and time again. That has become almost too easy. I want to be looking ahead, pushing my limits. Street photography in itself tells a story, our story, the story of today, which will define us tomorrow through these images. I’ll keep looking inside myself and observing the world outside, while keeping heart, eye and finger tuned on the shutter button.
ABOUT BENEDETTA FALUGI
Benedetta Falugi is a Tuscan photographer who studied photography through various workshops but who is also self-taught. Soft colours and muffled atmospheres, instants and instances of life out of time, people who tell a story: Benedetta Falugi has the ability to see beyond, sketching reality with subtlety and wit. Her works are published in several magazines and on view in various exhibitions, both personal and collective. Among her customers are Visa (New York), Nokia (United Kingdom), the fashion brands of Mal Familie and Noodle Park (Italy). She is a member of the street-photography association “InQuadra”.