Curated by Simone Menegoi
Openingon 4 May at 18.00 at Galleria P420 (Piazza dei Martiri 5/2, Bologna)Lumpenfotografie. Towards a photography without vainglory is a group show on theartists Hans-Peter Feldmann (Düsseldorf, 1941), Peter Piller (Fritzlar, 1968),Alessandra Spranzi (Milan, 1962), Joachim Schmid (Balingen, 1955) and FrancoVaccari (Modena, 1936). Curated by Simone Menegoi, the exhibition bringstogether authors from different generations who investigate the linguistic codesof photography and its social dimension, making use of the appropriation ofimages of others and forms of presentation such as the series, the catalogue,the archive.
The term comes from Franco Vaccari, Lumpenfotografie (literally"ragged photography"), based on Marx's famous definition of theLumpenproletariat. Marx defined "lumpenproletariat"as a social group formed bythe "outcasts of all classes": an underworld that lives by its wits, utterlylacking in class consciousness. Transforming Marx's socio-political categoryinto an aesthetic distinction, Vaccari has spoken of"lumpenfotografie" withrespect to the work of the German artist Joachim Schmid, who for three decadeshas gathered, selected and exhibited work that is not, and does not claim to be,"art" photography: pictures from newspapers, amateur snapshots, ID photos,pornography, the illustrations in manuals… A motley and anarchical mass, lackingin the aesthetic awareness (and linguistic self-awareness) typical of "art"photography, and therefore constitutes the photographic counterpart of Marx's"lumpen". Vaccari's formulation suggested the idea of putting together severalartists who have made "lumpenfotografie"the object (and often the very material)of their work: Hans-Peter Feldmann, Peter Piller, Alessandra Spranzi, JoachimSchmid and Vaccari himself. Among the exhibited works: the small self-producedpublications in which Feldmann, already towards the end of the 1960s, presentedselections of banal images, organized by subject; some items from the archivesof Piller, an impressive collection of the widest range of types of images foundin newspapers; a selection from Bilder von der Straße of Schmid, a collectionspanning three decades of photographs found by the artist in the street; theprints of the Vendesi series by Spranzi, whose subjects are the technicallyshoddy images, though at times of unintentional charm, of the objects put up forsale in want-ad magazines; and, finally, some panels from the Fotomatic d'Italiaseries (1972) by Vaccari, on which the Italian artist has gathered andcatalogued the ID photos sent to him by people who wanted to participate in afictitious casting call. The approach of these artists to their object of studyis far from uniform: it wavers between analytical detachment and irony, betweenthe cold, cataloguing methods of Conceptual Art and a perceptible aestheticattraction. In any case, in these artists we do not seem to see any haughtyintellectual disdain for the images they use or for the anonymous photographerswho made the pictures. Along different paths, they all seem to have reached thesame conclusions of a countryman of Vaccari, the writer Ermanno Cavazzoni: theback cover of one of his books (which the style would lead us to believe wasprepared by the author himself) points to "a serene way of writing, withoutvainglory", in the awareness that "even intelligence and its pretensions arepart of that universal idiocy that accompanies the human race from birth todeath and, perhaps, beyond" (Vite brevi di idioti, 1994).
Catalogue available at the gallery with text by SimoneMenegoi