Azu Nwagbogu, Founder and Director of LagosPhoto Festival and the African Artists’ Foundation, chose this project by Mirko Saviane as his Juror’s Pick in the Magnum Photography Awards 2017. He explains his choice in a brief statement below. We’ve also included Saviane’s artist statement so you can learn more about the motivation behind this engaging street series.

“I selected Mirko Saviane as my Juror’s Pick because his work demonstrates the power of the single image (even though it is part of a series). Each image is deliberate but poetic and still very present in narrating a broader story. Street photography is almost a dying art form, but with Mirko’s work, we take notice and observe the way he finds balance with a multiplicity of colors on the palette. It also demonstrates to young photographers that you can find a story nearby without needing to travel half-way around the world.”

Artist’s Statement

Burano is a small island close to Venice, Italy. Many international newspapers call Burano one of the most colorful cities in the world; this is perhaps the island’s most famous feature.

Why are the houses so colorful? Some say that the vibrant hues served to define property lines: each family painted their house a different color. Others say that the bright colors helped fishermen find their way home in the dense fog that surrounds Burano during certain seasons. With its myriad of colors, the island’s color scheme is reminiscent of the multicolored cities of South America.

Bed sheet. © Mirko Saviane. Juror’s Pick, Magnum Photography Awards 2017.

I started as a painter, and this background has definitely influenced my style. I think I’m attracted to silhouettes and shadows; this characterizes my photographic language in general but is especially apparent in this project. My attention to shadow makes the reality I depict here more graphic and pictorial, while the depersonalization caused by my protagonists’ silhouettes enhances the interplay between light, color and shadow in the scenes, which helps the observer to catapult himself into this beautifully colored world.

Too close. © Mirko Saviane. Juror’s Pick, Magnum Photography Awards 2017.

As you can probably guess, Burano is constantly flooded with tourists who inevitably alter the natural beauty of the island. With this project, I made it my goal to focus on the daily activities of the island’s inhabitants in order to show the intrinsic beauty of this place. My hope is that this series provides a different perspective on this highly photographed island.

—Mirko Saviane

This project was a Juror’s Pick in the Magnum Photography Awards 2017. Discover more inspiring work from all 41 of the winners, finalists, and jurors’ picks.