22 May - 28 June - free admission
25 May - 28 June
In pictures from Magnum Photos curated by Ferdinando Scianna
When Giulia Cogoli asked me to curate a special photography exhibition for this year’s edition of Dialogues on man in Pistoia, I reacted with the surprise of someone on the receiving end of a practical joke. Are you interested? Would you have fun? Me, curator? I’d never done anything like that before.
As a photographer, I tend to be wary of curators. Someone who wants to choose my photos - why? I choose my own photos. As long as I’m alive. I manage all that myself.
Then curiosity won out. I’ll give it a try, I told her.
But how? I soon realised that researching a theme this vast, this complex, in the maremagnum of images remembered from the books in my library or the forest that is the web, to assemble them into a multifarious yet coherent vision was a truly difficult undertaking.
Then, almost spontaneously, I proposed an exhibition of photographs chosen from the immense archives of the Magnum Agency, where I have had the privilege of working for more than 30 years. Magnum’s photographers have been depicting the world around us in their work over the last 70 years. Not only illustrating great events but also, above all showing people’s lives in the various places in which they live them. Sometimes, even their private lives. Few things can better convey who we are and how we live than our homes, our dwellings. They span everything from shanty lairs in bidonvilles to luxurious mansions and beehives of modernity, from places where we display the intimacy of our affections to the transient spaces of mass coexistence first defined by Marc Augé as non-places, which are nevertheless among the most frequented locations.
I felt that bringing together new and old photographs that conveyed this multifaceted theme through the eyes of a group of excellent, even brilliant, photographers - whose styles may differ but who are all driven by a common spirit - could give the exhibit the variety and coherence I was seeking.
I chose these photographs from countless images, also with the assistance of the agency’s wonderful research staff. I even included two of my own, so as to not be falsely modest or feign an impossible neutrality in my choices. Of course, if this is what being a curator means, the selection represents my own vision too. But, above all, I am extremely pleased to have been the intermediary representing the visions of many photographer colleagues whom I admire and a group of which I am proud to be a part.
Ferdinando Scianna, one of Italy’s leading photographers, started his career in the 1960s while he was a student of Humanities and Philosophy at Palermo University. In 1963 he met the Sicilian writer Leonardo Sciascia, and together they published the first of their many joint books, Feste religiose in Sicilia, that received the Nadar Award. Later on he worked as a photo reporter from Paris for the newsweekly L’Europeo. Henri Cartier-Bresson introduced him to Magnum and he was hired by the agency in 1982. Since 1987, Scianna enjoys international renown owing to his work as a photo reporter, a portrait artist, as well as a fashion and advertising photographer. In the last few years he began writing critiques and articles for Italian and French media. His books include: Marpessa, un racconto (Leonardo, 1993); Altrove: reportage di moda (Federico Motta, 1995); Viaggio a Lourdes (Mondadori, 1996); Altre Forme del Caos (2000), La Geometria e la Passione (2009), Baaria, Bagheria (con G. Tornatore, 2009) published by Contrasto; Etica e fotogiornalismo (Electa, 2010); Piccoli mondi (2012), Ti mangio con gli occhi (2013), Visti & scritti (2014) published by Contrasto.
Magnum Photos, considered the most prestigious photographic agency in the world, brings together 60 of the best independent international photographers and has produced some of the most important reportages of recent decades, documenting wars and social events.