Selected as a Photoworks Award runner up, 2016 LCC photography graduate Giulia Parlato recreates a mythical narrative for her fictional characters to navigate.
The concept of Isola originated from an unresolved question I have been asking myself for the past three years; about home and the impossibility of finding one. The ‘photographic act’ has always been a way to isolate myself and feel at home within my images. This sort of inner dislocation I reach while I photograph brought me to the creation of a fictitious island, which almost became a symbolic dwelling. When I started to construct a critical thought around this project, I knew it had to be about Sicily, depicted as a surreal and arcane place and strongly linked to its myths. Throughout the development of my work, this partially changed and focusing on my origins became mostly a familiar and personal way of articulating a discourse on a more broad and complex concept.
My journey of twenty-five days through the mediterranean sea, started after a rereading of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s Lighea and Homer’s Odyssey, focusing particularly on Ulysses adventures across the south of Italy.
Even though all of those places were part of my childhood memories, I had the feeling I was looking at them, consciously, for the very first time.
In winter, the Sicilian landscape shifts from being a desirable tourist destination, to a deserted and silent scene.
The desolation of Sicily and the small islands which surround it made me focus on their idyllic appearance. Meditating on the primitive uses of the cave, which are extremely common throughout the island group, I thought of each cavern as a dwelling in its purest and simplest structure; a contained space, which is possible to enter and which recalls the ideal form of the shelter.
By exploring this territory, I was allured by the idea of enclosure in the shapes of igneous rocks and cliffs, encompassing the traveller and welcoming him or her to stay. The symbology of the cave, antechamber of a hidden world, is a central theme of my research. The cave here is seen as an intricate space, similar to the one of the human viscera, as well as a place where a reconnection with Mother Earth and our original state of humanity is possible.
Isola formed around the idea of narrating, like in a travel journal, a fictional voyage from an adventurer’s perspective; from approaching an imaginary island to venturing into its core.
Celebrating the beauty of the classical forms, the nude figures in the landscape evoke a sense of a dreamlike dimension, in which the viewer is invited to immerse themselves. Concentrating the narrative more on their gestures, rather than their identity, my subjects are faceless islanders, accompanying foreigners through their visit. The explorer is only invited into Utopia for a finite amount of time and then pushed away by an external force. Just like Ulysses and Nausicaa in the island of the Phaeacians, the visiting is necessarily tied to a future departure.
The objects I have collected throughout the making of my work have been taken out of their original context and photographed individually against a simple black background. This enhances their evocative power and shifts the focus onto their symbolic value. As fragments of an ended voyage, the objects almost become ‘organs’ of the island itself, organic pieces that have been secretly removed from it.
Isola is not a specific place and it does not belong to a specific time. Impenetrable, it exists only in images.
See here for more on Giulia’s work.