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Luigi Ghirri and the Photography of Place

Interdisciplinary Perspectives


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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Part I: Luigi Ghirri’s Photography in Context


part i Luigi Ghirri’s Photography in Context Giuliano Sergio 1 Luigi Ghirri, Minimal Journeys: Icons, Landscapes, Architectures Like all great artists, Luigi Ghirri is bound to have a growing influence on the international visual culture. Much has been written about his figure, not only able to produce extraordinary and anticipatory images, but to bring together the scattered and disorganized photographic culture to create a breeding ground that remains to this day a strong legacy for Italian artistic and cultural identity. This essay aims to trace a path of access to the cultural and historical roots of Ghirri’s work: the encounter with the avant-garde and with architecture and urbanism, which nourished all of his subsequent research. Architecture and the avant-garde were the two initial matrices of Ghirri’s work but they cannot be retraced chronologically, as initial elements of the formation of a style and language. Ghirri played with photography throughout his life, quoting and decomposing styles and genres, creating an extraordinary observatory on the human practice of producing, preserving, displaying and diffusing representations. These matrices were for him something like a horizon of understanding, references that shaped his way of thinking and looking at images. A poetic attention, capable of showing with a slight irony man’s yearning to building figures, experiencing them, adapting to them to the point of getting lost in the infinite reflections between the world and its illustrations. The attention to landscape, therefore, will be for Ghirri a natural point of arrival, the place in which to detect...

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