Nicola Carignani, Ivanmaria Vele (critic text)

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"Shooting so many commercial assignments, I lost connection with my passions. I forgot what I liked. When I began studying photography, I hoped to meet eccentric people, the kind who live Life by taking risks. The day I saw a portrait of the singer from ‘The Prodigy’ on the cover of ‘The Face’, I thought: “Wow! A photographer was sent to this weirdo to take his picture, and they’ll have even paid him to do so! That’s the kind of job I want!” Also, I’m intrigued by communities made up of that kind of person. The sort of people who couldn’t care less about the hypnotic pull of mainstream anything, who try out new systems, the pioneering sort, perhaps a touch surreal and far-out from the usual Matrix of work/success/isolation/stress/dissatisfaction. So, while preparing for an assignment to the U.S., chatting with friends about these sort of characters, a friend, Luca, tells me that there’s a community made up of really unusual artists that I shouldn’t miss. It’s called JoshuaTree, and it’s full of that kind of off-grid, artistic ‘outsiders’. He gives me the contact details of Andrea, one of Joshua Tree’s mainstays. I’m on my way." (N.C.)

"Obtain•ium: to obtain [v.tr. ob·tained, ob·tain·ing, ob·tains] plus •ium: chemical element or group {New Latin -ium, neuter n. suff., from Greek –ion}. Materials used to create art work such as assemblage, mixed media or sculpture that weren’t bought new, but obtained in other ways, such as second-hand, dumpster diving, chance findings or donations. Term widely used amongst the residents of Joshua Tree, California.

Nicola’s pictures of these amazing characters are not telling us about a struggle or alternative lifestyle. In fact this body of work is evoking normality and whispering sensitivity. A dream is not a dream once it becomes the ordinary extraordinary.
The rumors of true things, the colors of imaginary yet real landscapes, are the subject matter of the 'Obtainium' collection. Nicola’s closure with these human beings, their surroundings and manufacts shows the essence of photographic art. To be there to enter the void. Defying any rational thoughts, it’s all he can do. In Nicola Carignani’s imperfect world all that is left is the search for freedom. Voltaire’s legacy was not entirely given up here. Indeed a very practical solution for modern times too, “Man is free at the moment he wishes to be”.

This very sweet sense of freedom is all over Carignani’s desert portraits, each one with its own perfectly balanced legacy. Leaving Las Vegas or Leaving Los Angeles is not necessarily an act of disobedience but an act of faith towards liberty and “normality”. Yes indeed I say it again. This is what Nicola was undoubtedly looking for and this is what he found almost so very naturally. These photos are forever. These spirits have been living there with us for many ages and Nicola’s ability to capture them for his narration is just another chunk of his own personal discovery channel. Enjoy it while you can." (Ivanmaria Vele)

About the photographer (*1978 in Pietrasanta, Italy):

As a teenager, Nicola Carignani got rescued by the hard-core punk scene from a bourgeois, middle-class upbringing. He started meeting people from different walks of life and got to know more interesting circles, like skateparks, live concerts and the British magazine culture. Right after high school he developed a strong passion towards contemporary art, photography and publishing.
Between 1998 and 1999, during his photography studies, he took numerous workshops with artists like Martin Parr and Nick Waplington. In 2000 he concluded his Three Year Photography Program at Studio Marangoni in Florence. Still in school, he founded Boiler Magazine, an innovative contemporary art magazine. Boiler ran smoothly until 2004, when Nicola was struck by a sudden urge for a mystical experience.
Nicola decided to leave and meditate at a Buddhist monastery in Ceylon and he then arrived in India at the Osho commune, where he stayed much longer than expected. Coming back in Italy to work as a photographer he needed a new sparkle which he found in experimentation. Fashion, portraiture and sport culture all blend in into the mix that defines the unique style of his images, all containing the same dose of cheekiness, elegance, irony and wildness.
 
SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS:
2013 “Obtainium”, Galeria La Plataforma, Barcelona; critic text: Ivanmaria Vele
2013 “Obtainium”, Galleria Margini Arte Cotemporanea, Pietrasanta, curator: Enrico Mattei
2004 “Born Again”, Galleria Nicola Ricci Arte Contemporanea, Pietrasanta, curator: Fabiola Naldi
2002 “Steal and Burn”, Studio Ercolani, Bologna, curator. Chiara Leoni
2000 “Elective Affinities”, BIG Torino, Torino, curator. Nicoletta Leonardi

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS:
2015 “Il Nuovo Vocabolario della Moda italiana", (Triennale di Milano), curator: Vittorio Linfante
2005 “Padiglione Italia Out Of Biennale”, Trevi Flash Art Museum, curator. Chiara Leoni
2003 “Hovering”, Peres Projects Gallery, Los Angeles, curator. Daniele Balice
2002 “2 in uno”, Galleria Galica, Milano, curator. Gigliola Foschi
“Viasatellite”, Mercati Traianei, Roma, curator: Alessandra Galletta
2001 “Archivi, Memorie ed Accumulazioni”, Centre Culturel Français, Torino, curators: a.titolo & Franco Vaccari
2000 “Les trahisons du modèle”, Chapelle du Rham, Luxembourg, curator: Paul di Felice
1999 “Multiple Vision”, Taranto Gallery, New York, curator. Nicoletta Leonardi
“Shift”, Studio Ercolani, Bologna, curator. Chiara Leoni
“Multiple vision”, Clone Media Gallery, Londra, curator: Nicoletta Leonardi
1998 Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie, Arles

Hereinspaziert in die Welt von Outsidern, die der italienische Fotograf Nicola Cagnani in der Gemeinschaft des 'Joshua Tree', Kalifornien, USA dokumentiert hat. Künstler aus Los Angeles, die dorthin kamen, als niemand sonst hier leben wollte und sich diesen Ort nach ihren Vorstellungen eingerichtet haben und ihre Künste weiter pflegen...
Carignanis Arbeit ist eine respektvolle Annäherung und ebenso fein als Buch umgesetzt. Farbe ist wichtig; die Zwischenseiten reagieren behutsam auf die für die Behausungen verwendeten Farben. Jedes Buch erhielt die Farbe, die noch vorrätig war, bis diese aufgebraucht war.
Der Begriff 'Obtainment' wird von der Gruppe in dem Zusammenhang verwendet, dass sie irgendwie zusammen gekommen sind, so wie sie z.B. Kunstwerke entstehen lassen aus Dingen, die nicht gekauft, sondern auf irgend eine andere Weise zu ihnen gekommen sind.