The hysterical photographical Poetry
Massimo Fiorito
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2011 / 20122011_2012.html

Hipsterical photographical Poetry

Unmanageable emotional excess

Hurled against the wall in a seemingly random and frantic confusion – that is my first impression of the 385 small square photographs, most of them 12 by 12 cm, a very few larger ones at 19 by 19 cm. The trick of hanging them as an allover surrounding texture doesn't just sweep the viewers away, it carries them away on a journey. We see travel impressions from Romania, Spain, Italy and Germany,in black and white and in colour. They all have a faded and scratched vintage look, as though they had been stored away and rediscovered in someone's parents' or even grandparents' suitcase from the 1960ies or 70es. They look like snapshots of everyday life, albeit the light is unusual. The scenes, objects and buildings seem charmed or even haunted, surreal, dreamlike. The pictures are observant and inspire you to invent a story. Each one a poem.

I wonder what the girl, angling her neck so curiously, has fished out of the water. She is surrounded by a halo and momentarily suspended on the bottom step of the pool. The silhouette of a pine tree wedged between power lines and buildings metamorphoses into a dark cloud. The diggers and workmen in their blue helmets appear toy-like in their extremely washed-out colours.

Only current car models and the occasional billboard hit home to the viewer that these pictures could not have been found in the loft. In fact, all of the pictures were taken by professional photographer Massimo Fiorito (born 1962 in Verona) all in the 365 days between 5th of November 2010 and 4th of November 2011.

The square format is immediately reminiscent of the polaroid, beloved and reviled in equal measure. Fiorito had made a point of using a polaroid camera since 1985 for his spontaneous work, because, unlike other analog cameras, it spat out an instant original. For that feat alone you had to love it. If however, like Fiorito, you felt compelled to take photos all day every day, you quickly learned to hate polaroids to the point of having nervous breakdowns. Fiorito, like Pop artists of the likes of Andy Warhol, put up with having to change the film packs after 20 frames, the awkward bulk, conspicuous size and high cost of the camera for the benefit of being able to produce a one-off artwork ad hoc.

The evolution of the smartphone came as a true liberation to Fiorito: picture quality improved dramatically, cost remained low, inconvenient film changes were a thing of the past and it became easier to take pictures unobserved. It has become even easier for Fiorito to indulge his passion: to photograph everything, all the time. He uses apps that imitate the look of analog photographs and offer a choice of film material, lens and flash. The pictures taken with these apps look like they were taken in different eras. Fiorito never edits the resulting pictures, just as his Polaroids always remained untouched. His limited editions of five prints are not too far removed from the original single print format. This manufactured retro style will remind some of the look of the Lomographic society, founded in 1992 in Vienna. Their snapshots, frantic incessant taking of photographs and the presentation of the prints in the dense salon hang style are very much akin to Fiorito's approach, eschewing all rules and conventions.

His travel photographs represent flashbacks, as they are not displayed or even shot in chronological order. Fiorito's aim is to document change in the manner of a diary; observations that inspire a poetic mood.

Fiorito's travel photographs hark back to American documentary photography of the 1960s, capturing the transformation and destruction of the proverbially endless landscapes with their fledgling towns as a social landscape. American photographer Lee Friedlander uses windscreens and rear-view mirrors to compartmentalise composition in his views of “Street Life”. He creates a surreal mirror image of himself by capturing a multiple reflection in shop windows. In 1967, Friedlander's black and white photographs were shown at MoMA, together with the work of Diane Arbus and Garry Winogrand, in a group exhibition called “New Documents”. Fiorito uses similar breaches of perspective. His very personal take on mundane objects of everyday life transformed by unusual? lighting is reminiscent of

“William Eggleston’s Guide” of 1972. The Southerner Eggleston's solo exhibition at the MoMA was met by critics with claims that his photos were “Perfectly banal, perfectly boring”, “erratic and ramshackle,” or even “a mess” and was voted the most hated exhibition of 1976. Until then, black and white photography had been the only firmly established medium for artistic photography.

Eggleston took photos of everyday items, mundane objects, non-events and, using the expensive dye transfer process that had been invented for Coca Cola ads, transformed them into exquisite prints. Thus Pop Art elevated everyday life into art, evoking emotion through the use of colour. At the time, this was perceived to be exclusively the remit of advertisements, not artistic photography. Egglestone's works mark a point in time when photographs were suddenly allowed to be evocative and poetic. Sweeping streetscapes as well as faded advertisements and shop windows telling of a golden past were Steven Shore's chosen subjects when he worked at Andy Warhol's Factory in the 1970s. Like William Eggleston, he captured them in colour. These historic inspirations all revolve around the one “decisive moment” of photographic great Henri Cartier-Bresson's 1952 book title. Cartier-Bresson mastered the art of imparting his shots of very specific situations with an air of timelessness.

Massimo Fiorito constantly discovers similar moments in his adopted city of Munich, and while travelling in Romania, Italy and Spain. Fiorito's choice of title, Hipsterical Photographical Poetry, is a reference to 1940s America, where black jazz musicians and the poets of the beat generation dominated urban subculture and the artistic avant-garde of abstract expressionism.

“Jazz to me is one of the most beautiful ways of artistic expression. It combines improvisation with technical brilliance. Jazz would not be possible without mastering the technique first. That is what I feel when I take pictures. I like to think of photography as a kind of jazz improvisation, where the rulebook is constantly either followed, turned on its head or torn up in order to create something fresh and new.”

Last updated: 30.08.2012

Gabriele Kunkel M.A.

November 2011, Gallery ”Kunst und Schmerz Los“ - Munich

April 2012, Homeless Gallery - Munich

November 2012, Kunstsaal - Ammerlech

Prices: small pictures 12x12cm - € 20,- / larger pictures 19x19cm € 120,- (framed € 150,-)