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ItalyPhoto Essays

Federica Di Giovanni | Camping Italia

Versilia, Italia, summer 2011
[P]ostcards from Camping Italy tell a story of that particular hour of the day that encloses the moment and the absolute: the evening TV news time, the time to put the mosquito oil and neon lights on, the aftersun cream and the dinners among neighbors. Photographs that represent the collective spirit of Italians on vacation and the loss of a nomadic spirit that, if it ever belonged to us in the past, it now belongs to another world.

The camping site – sometimes interpreted as an area that reminds us of clandestine people – has become a summer conglomeration of houses, where the condominium’s dynamics are replicated. Dynamics people want to escape, even if in this case you can pass through your neighbors’ laundry to go to the bathroom.

Everywhere Italians go they carry with them a piece of their homes. Ridge tents’ time is over while the age of prefabricated houses with sea view and fake flowers at the windows, the food processor ready for every occasion, comfort tools people cannot give up is rising up.
Camping Italy is sea smell mixed with Autan, fried or grilled onions, and pinewood. Perhaps, it’s mixed with water and salt too, something deep inside that you do not know how to identify.

Interview with Federica Di Giovanni

(by Anna Mola)

Anna MolaThe first remarkable element in these pictures, in my opinion, is the brightness of colors. How much important is the choice of b/w or color into your style?

Federica di Giovanni – I began to photograph in black and white during the night. Then I used a color film, a flash, I have seen Blue Velvet and finally I found my way. I like to discover colors and how they reveal under my eyes as though you are in the darkness and the only link with the reality is a torch.
In this project the choice to photograph during the twilight is not by chance.
Families meet around the table for dinner, with lighting of neon and tv passing from a public dimension to a private one.
Thanks to neon light and, in some pictures, to my faithful led torch, I could give more emphasis to the colors.
On the other hand, everyone has his own favorite colors…

The result of you reportage is quite ironic, while the “trend” of many contemporary photo-journalists is inclined to dramatic, disquieting images. What do you think about? What relation do you have with this kind of reportage?

I perfectly understand that irony can be the first interpretation but I hope this is not the only one. Irony is for me the natural key to enter in some realities. In my opinion, some of these pictures are deeply sad and, in my own way, dramatic.
I appreciate my colleagues traveling to the most difficult worlds because of the need to record history. I’m very passionate of historical documentaries but rarely war photographs and sensationalist reportage impress me.

Vacation in camping can be a choice – of course – but a low budget vacation too, in this time of crisis. Do you think there’s also this social issue into your series?

Camping Italia was born because of my need to enterprise a project about Italy.
I discovered by chance this kind of microcosm next to the bungalow where I slept for a weekend in Versilia. When I set foot on this place I immediately realized that it was the answer to my need to tell my country in this historical time.
I have seen this camp of not clandestine people like an extraordinary metaphor -that we can see everyday- of a different nomadism.
Everywhere Italians go they carry with them a piece of their homes.
Bigger and bigger, almost to make impossible a real departure.

You talk about the Italian peculiarity of carrying on a piece of their houses wherever they go. On the other hand, what about the relation between these people and the surrounding environment?

I never had a great experience as a camper and my idea of camping was close to a desire of experiencing nature, freedom and solitude, but instead of these features, I realized that camping was more like living in a huge condominium without doors.
When people come back from the beaches, they live again the same landing dynamics but in the open air. It seems to belong to a community of a quarter, to live a memory, for me that I was born in the 80’s, just told by people, books and cinema.

Versilia, Italia, summer 2011
Versilia, Italia, summer 2011
Versilia, Italia, summer 2011
Versilia, Italia, summer 2011
Versilia, Italia, summer 2011
Versilia, Italia, summer 2011
Versilia, Italia, summer 2011
Versilia, Italy, summer 2011
Versilia, Ital, summer 2011
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Anna Mola

Anna Mola (www.annamola.wordpress.com/), independent critic and curator. More »

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