Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Giorgio Lotti, interior of the Misericordia with frescoes by Veronese, c. 1968-70

Giorgio Lotti, interior of the Misericordia, c. 1968-70

This image is from a polemical work by Giorgio Lotti entitled Venice is Dying, which was published in 1970, shortly after the record flood in 1966 had raised awareness of Venice's vulnerability. Lotti’s denunciatory rhetoric is emphasised by high-contrast, high-grain printing. I have chosen to reproduce this particular image because its subject is consistent with my own interests, but, in the context of Lotti’s book, it is atypical, since he rarely depicts fully defined spaces, whether interior or exterior. Instead, he isolates – one might say that he fetishizes – details of decaying statues and facades. There is no sense of a coherent urban space, because Lotti’s intent is to stress fragmentation and disintegration. The only photographs in which people appear - and also the only photographs in which the idea of community is invoked - are the final ones in the book, in which protestors are gathered together in a neutral space that can be depicted as detached from the urban fabric: that is, on the Grand Canal. I do not share Lotti’s pessimism, but more importantly, I do not agree with the basis of his critique. This image begs a number of questions, to which Lotti does not provide an answer. For example, where should Venetians install basketball courts, if not here? How should they inhabit their city, and make responsible use of it?

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