For the second time I find myself indebted to my dear friend Ruggero Passeri for the title (and for something more) of one of my pieces, as he defined some of the photos I was showing him by introducing me to the concept of “non-place”.
A non-place is the image of something so anonymous, without any salient or interesting characteristics in itself, that it makes you wonder what the reason is for turning it into a photograph.
First of all, we have to start from the fact that in the orgy of images that surrounds us, anything interesting, any “monstrum”, any beautiful urban or landscape place that can be transformed into an attractive image has already been photographed in all sorts of ways. So what?
It is certainly possible to take pictures of famous places and interesting situations again, looking for the sense of the picture in the quotation, in the conscious comparison with the masters who have gone before us, in the document or the missed detail, in the oblique glance.
But one can also widen this oblique gaze, and look for the monstrum in the non-place.
We can try to bring into dialogue the anonymity, the irrelevance of what we frame in the camera’s viewfinder, with its aesthetic potential, which lies above all in the eye and head of the photographer.
It is a complicated operation, already practised by some masters, in which it is difficult to maintain a balance between a totally insignificant image, and one that is so cerebral as to be in any case useless.
And it is necessary to overcome the hesitation, the doubt as to whether to take that picture, with a calembour that unfortunately only works in Italian, the “non luogo a procedere” as they say in legal terms.
But if photography succeeds in this difficult balance, and it is rare, precisely because of its lack of documentary character, or of an overpowering focus of the viewer’s attention, it can create an atmosphere, and transform an anonymous non-place into the place of the photographer and the viewer.