From my photography book: “BLUE” Logos Editore, 2005 – Italy.
Photography by © Massimo De Gennaro
THE SEA? I’VE NEVER BEEN THERE.
When the subject of Photography arises (and here the capital letter is obligatory) the evocations it suggests ennoble it in the eyes of the observers. It may seem a search for identity, and thus noble, or an alibi, and thus terrible. Extraordinary visual communication, cable of arousing infinite emotions in the mind and the heart. But Photography deserves instead, to remain just what it is – Photography.
This is the case of Blue by Massimo De Gennaro, a photographer who acts and operates without attempting to pile layers of superimposed concepts on his work. The images are direct and, at the same time abundant, offering multifold levels of reading: to each his own. Consistent in his intention, the artist Massimo De Gennaro deliberately avoids presenting pre-cooked, pre-packed re/solutions pointing in a single direction (even should it be his own). On the contrary, each observer can, image after image, search for and find a rhythm of his own, an individual guideline, that may or may not coincide with the emotions of the artist; and this is irrelevant.
These are not documentary photographs, photographs bearing witness to a reality, despite the propriety of language that the artist applies /has applied in interpreting them, but – coincidentally, and not on the contrary – photographs that appear unreal. Apart from ecological questions, whose proper place is elsewhere, the sea of Massimo De Gennaro is certainly not the sea of a Sunday outing or a summer vacation for tourists or for the light-hearted joy of a holiday. The sea of Massimo De Gennaro is a symbolic sea, taken as pretext – and not by chance – for a broad-ranging series of considerations and consequential introspection.
A sociologist, for example, could view these photographs within his own key of reference: collective rituals, bogus happiness, mass culture, and an infinity of other aspects. At the same time, and in the same good faith (?!), a fetishist of photographic production methods, which can influence style, at times discriminating but never ends unto themselves, could elaborate at length on the production stages, that from the photography of reality (decipherable by everyone) go on to dream-like representation through means and methodologies termed hybrid in current jargon: from the original slide to digital transformation, to electronic manipulation of the final result. And many other categories of thought and language, each from its own egoistic viewpoint, can express their own opinions.
Effectively free, though masterfully involved, the observer who remains himself and encounters these images has a fortune all his own, that he may express with deep feeling. Without attempting to pigeonhole it in any pre-category, Massimo De Gennaro’s sea leaves the mind unbridled and the heart open, to receive those stimuli that breathe life into a sequence of impressions, conferring inestimable benefit.
This is not just any sea. And perhaps it is not even a sea. More probably, even certainly, it is a necessary, but not sufficient visual pretext. For its own nature of portrayal, in the sense that it calls for a concrete subject, Photography is perforce representational. And, as previously noted, the representation of De Gennaro is a fantastic pretext. The long series of images, collected here in a volume (but which could continue to the infinite, without tiring, without fatiguing the eye) has the tone of poetry that narrates while seeming not to, speaks by simulating silence, evokes by feigning to reveal. There exist no formulas to explain or understand all this. There exists instead the heart of the observer who, page after page, leaves the crude reality of his own existence in that moment, to venture along the personal, individual, trajectory of memories, dreams and evocations, masterfully set to an editorial rhythm (another indispensable practical necessity).
In the succession of the pages, apart from their appearance (ulterior appearance, after that of the pretext (subject), there are not merely images that strike the eye; but also the sounds, aromas, fears (why not?) and joys that each of us conserves, unknowingly, in his own heart. Latent, as latent as the photographic image before being processed for concrete presentation, these emotions are re-awakened, to each his own, by a sea that is not sea. If these are the appropriate terms in which to express ourselves, if it is this of which we are speaking, then we must acclaim Photography, like this of Massimo De Gennaro, that is capable of synchronizing and according the heart and the mind, the rational and the irrational, reality and recollection. That is, in a word, capable of re-awakening the emotions of individual Existence.
For such a Photography we must all be thankful.
Text by © Maurizio Rebuzzini