I wish you to be a blossoming multicolored meadow
Where diversity is what matters,
Where different flowers are taken as one,
Blended to create brilliant new colors.
(In the original poem, “meadow” is translated as “prato”, which is also the name of the Tuscan city*).
The photographic project “We, Prato” looks at second generation young people of Chinese origins and their peers of Italian origin. The theme of the Chinese second generation young people in Prato is a current and critical issue which has not yet been deeply studied.
The majority of people of Chinese origins under 25 years in Prato were born and attended schools there. They study in Italian, speak Italian, eat Italian food and in most cases feel that Prato is their home. When outsiders meet this community, their first question is often one of identity, and there is no clear answer.
The images of the project “We, Prato” portray 16 young people aged between 16 and 28 years old in an environment which they have chosen and which is, in their opinion, a symbol of integration and development. The faces of the subjects are sharp, while the background is out of focus. Places of integration are important, but they have no value if there is no activity and presence of young people. The work has been shot in black and white using silver gelatin film and printed on fiber-based paper. Thanking to the Scheimpflug technique (typical of movable large format photographic cameras) the focus area is just on the faces of the person depicted.
Every subject was asked to name three terms that could go in association with the word “integration”. The results are certainly interesting and also give us some indication of the personalities and their instinctive rapport with the theme of integration.
These images are not meant to give an answer. They will remain as a document of the current situation.
* an extract from My Prato by Yuan Wu Ning (from “Second generation”, stories from the literary contest “The city seen and experienced by Prato’s second generation people,” a project of the Province of Prato, in collaboration with Monash University, Piano B Edizioni, 2013, Prato).
Q&A with Francesco Arese Visconti
Sight has always been my way to understand the world. I used to spend hours observing the world moving around me. My father taught me how to draw and paint, but I wasn’t disciplined enough to become a painter. Photography (and in particular traditional film photography) is the form of art that can balance my love for observation and handcrafts in a way that suits me the best.
Photography and writing…
“Photography” comes from the ancient Greek and it means “drawing of the light. ” H. F. Talbot in the 19th century made the first photography book called “The Pencil of Nature.” In both cases we give for understood that photography is about writing: writing with the help of light.
It is, of course, necessary for a photographer to be able to introduce himself and his work. The “traditional” writing is, therefore, fundamental for a photographer too.
Who left the biggest impression on you?
Anything living around you can help you to learn and grow as a human being, but if I have to name who left the biggest impression on me (and still do every single day), I have to mention my two little boys, Andrea and Niccolò.
As a photographer, the list is long, but I can say that Ansel Andams influenced me for his systematic approach to photography, Irving Penn for his elegance and Sebastião Salgado for his social involvement.
Tell us a little about yourself
I am an Italian Swiss-based photographer, teacher and part-time researcher. I love traveling, my work/passion and spending time with my family.
Francesco Arese Visconti (www.aresevisconti.com) I was born in Florence (Italy). I received my “laurea” in Humanities in 1998. I have taught at Webster since 2007 and have been the Photography Program Coordinator since 2009. In 2012 I became the Deputy Head of the Media Communications Dept. and a Part Time Research Faculty. I published two books and participated to several projects. My work is collected in private and public institutions. I work on topics related with immigration issues. Union Suisse Professional Photographer’s member.