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Luigi Ghirri and the Photography of Place

Interdisciplinary Perspectives

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Edited By Marina Spunta and Jacopo Benci

The photographer Luigi Ghirri (1943–1992) was one of the most significant Italian artists of the late twentieth century. This volume – the first scholarly book-length publication on Ghirri to appear in English – introduces his photographic and critical work to a broader audience and positions Ghirri as a key voice within global artistic debates. It breaks new ground by approaching Ghirri’s œuvre from a wide range of interdisciplinary perspectives, in order to take account of the breadth of his interests, the variety of his projects and the far-reaching impact of his work as a practitioner, writer, theorist and curator, both in the field of photography and beyond. Drawing on different approaches from disciplines including art history, theory of photography, literary and cultural studies, architecture, cartography, and place and landscape studies, the essays in the volume show how Ghirri redefined contemporary photography and helped shape the «spatial» or «landscape» turn in Italy and further afield.

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Introduction: Re-siting Luigi Ghirri (Marina Spunta and Jacopo Benci)

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Marina Spunta and Jacopo Benci Introduction: Re-siting Luigi Ghirri Re-siting Luigi Ghirri: Context and aims The photographer Luigi Ghirri (1943–92) is one of the most significant Italian visual artists of the last four decades. The term ‘visual artist’ is meant here not to distinguish and separate him from other photographers, but to point out that, although Ghirri always worked exclusively with the medium of photography, his art was not confined to the specific technical field of images created with the photographic apparatus. Ghirri drew on a variety of sources – encompassing painting, architecture, literature, as well as geography, cinema, music – refashioning them in his vast body of work. This comprises more than 180,000 negatives and 150 vintage prints stored at the Fototeca Panizzi of the Municipal Library in Reggio Emilia, over 800 prints stored at the CSAC in Parma, and other materials stored at his last house in Roncocesi, as well as over thirty photobooks and catalogues published during his life.1 Thanks to his prolific output, and because his approach was a holistic one, Ghirri has left an important legacy for his contemporaries and for younger generations of photographers, visual art- ists and other practitioners, in Italy and abroad. In the early 1970s Ghirri undertook a rethinking of photography, both as self-reflective analytical practice and as a detailed investigation of the minute, mundane aspects of the everyday. He was among the first 1 Ghirri’s archive at the Fototeca Panizzi can be accessed online at [accessed 15 October 2016]. Ghirri’s...

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