Contrast is the word that defines a photografic tecnique used to underline lights and shadows, outlines and profiles; contrast is also the term that specifies an antithesis between two parts, two dimensions, two perceptions. The two meanings have in common the clearness of the vision: physical on one side, conceptual on the other, but that registers always a sharp and authentic point of view on the world. And maybe it’s just the word “clearness” that best describes Gianni Cipriano’s way of make photography. His purpose is to capture, through the lens, portions of the world extremely different and just in contrast, but that are, in some way, part of the same global project, aiming to tell – by a style inspired to reportage – all the contradictions and facets that only Life can offer us. At first sight, it could seems that in his pictures there is an impartial vision of the reality: but behind every profile, every colour, every shadow and, overall, behind every contrast, what I would transmit, instead, it’s the account, even critical, of the history, the everyday one and also that one that remains in the books and in the special editions of magazines and newspapers. Looking at his shoots, it’s quite possible to be struck by the alternation between the ephemeral and the drama, between the impression of social moments and historical events that beat like a punch in the stomach. This is how the contrast between the masks of “Settecento” – a project dedicated to The Grand Cavalchina Ball, which takes place at the Teatro La Fenice, the most exclusive event in the Venice Carnival for over two hundred years – and the images of “Limbo” and “Hill of Shame”- the story of the migrants’ landings and their dramatic everyday life in the island of Lampedusa – was born. On one side, the voluntary loss of control and a state of euphoria are the result of the disinhibition provoked by a simple mask; on the other one, the drama of about 53,000 migrants (only in 2011) coming from North Africa and Sub-Saharian regions, arrived in the so-called “Door of Europe”. A landing that soon – more than a “European Ellis Island” from whom to leave again towards a new life and new hopes – reveals itself as a prison of unbearable waiting, a real, helly limbo where the only thing to do is to go out from the overcrowded immigration holding centre just to built the first European home on the so-called Hill of Shame, a carpet of improvised tents built with metal sticks, sheets, clothes and mattresses. These images can disturb, but they inevitably represent our reality and maybe they are more disturbing when they are “in contrast” with the ones dedicated to the New York Fashion Week – when fashion and female bodies are at the centre of the world attention – or when they are combined with Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s face, photographed during the challenged votings of 2009. An encounter-clash between different dimensions, without never forgetting that they are anyway “pieces” of the same world we are part of.
Gianni Cipriano (1983) is a Sicilian born independent photographer based between New York and Palermo. His work focuses on contemporary social, political and economic issues, and his interests lie in the relationship between man’s identity and the influence of mass culture. His clients and publications include The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Time, Le Monde, MSNBC.com, D Repubblica, Io Donna, Ventiquattro, IL, Courrier International, Vanity Fair, Diario, Esquire, Save The Children, among others. First of two children of a family of immigrants, he grew up between Brooklyn, Geneva and Palermo. After his studies in Aerospace Engineering and Architecture, he graduated in the Documentary Photography and Photojournalism Program at the International Centerof Photography in New York. In 2008 he was among the “EmergingTalents” of Reportage by Getty Images and was selected for the XXI 2008 Eddie Adams Workshop in New York. Since 2009 Gianni is part of the “Reflexions Masterclass”, an international seminar for the teaching of contemporary photography which has hosted some of the finest young authors from the world over. He as been nominated for the past three years at the “Joop Swart World Press Photo Masterclass”.