"Rimini" and "Calambrone", "Viareggio" and "Ricdone", "Cagliari" and "Rosignano Solvay": the titles of Massimo Vitali´s beach photographs read like a travel brochure, speadalised on Italian beach resorts. In fact, to some extent Massimo Vitali could be considered a "travel agent". His large-scale photographs take the beholder to Locations of comtemporary leisure culture, to discotheques and clubs, to ski resorts in the French or Italian Alps, to public parks, where festivals are in füll swing; and over and over again to mediterranean beaches in Italy and France, where tourism has been booming for years.
Vitali does not photograph paradise-like dream beaches of remote countries.
Instead, focusing on overcrowded beach resorts where masses of people are shown looking for relaxation from their everyday routines, Vitali seems driven by a deeper sociological significance of his motives. Working on a platform which is several meters high and allows for a generous overview, Vitali takes position behind his camera. From there he is able to observe the scene and to become witness ofthe rituals of a leisure culture as documented in his photographs. The panoramic view with which the beholder is confronted depicts a landscpape constrained by parking lots, hotel estates and large-scale industry in the background. This scenery although far from being untouched prooves that people are still experiencing an innocent mement ofjoy even in a nearly completely destroyed landscape.
Formally speaking, Massimo Vitali works within the tradition of European landscape painting. Even without prior compositional arrangement, the formalism inherent in the choice of his motives, the Organisation of the Staffage äs well äs the camera perspective are reminiscent of Italian Renaissance fresco painting. On the one hand, the subject matter of Vitali´s large scale photographs of French and Italian beaches seems common and banal; on the other hand, however, his somewhat surreal use of light and colour, conveys a feeling oftimelessness.
Vitali´s record oftraces provokes the voyeur in the beholder: The abundance of detail äs well äs the evenly focused picture plane allow for a documentation of beach life in allits facettes. The observer witnesses a culture of leisure, where social conventions are not simply shed with one´s clothes. The artist consciously looks for an ambiguity of meaning: hence even without any Intervention, the depirted sceneries become constructed scenarios. His photographs are detailed depictions ofthejoyand beauty, that can even be found on overcrowded beaches. However, the huge industrial sites in the background proove that the transformation from an idyllic scenery into an artifidal one has already taken place.
Massimo Vitali, who was born in Como in 1944, studied photography at the London College of Printing and worked äs a photo-journalist and director of photography in fiction and advertising movie. Since 1993 he has been working with large-format cameras and has been receiving increasing attention in various exhibitions. This year he will be partidpating in a group exhibition curated by Harald Szeeman during the Venice Biennale. "All Too Human" includes works from the series "Les Plages Du Var" and "Rosignano Sea" from 1995-1998, which have not yet been published at all. "All Too Human" is Massimo Vitali´s first solo show in Germany. His works have already been on view in "Stadt Land Mensch" a group exhibition of photographs held at Arndt & Partner last year.