Photo exhibition explores how cities and their landscapes have changed over time
‘Gabriele Basilico Photographs 1978-2012’ is the first exhibition in India devoted exclusively to the late Italian photographer
Italian Ambassador to India, Vincenzo de Luca recently opened the photo exhibition titled ‘Gabriele Basilico Photographs 1978-2012’ at Museo Camera, Gurugram. The exhibition, produced in collaboration with the Cultural Center of the Italian Embassy, will be presented until July 17, 2022.
“The exhibition deals with one of the most important subjects, namely the transformation or regeneration of cities. Gabriele Basilico has worked in many cities on different continents viz. Europe, Asia, North America and South America. His work offers a unique examination of cities and how their landscapes have changed over time. In 2021, about 4.5 billion people lived in urban areas. This number will increase to about 7 billion by 2050. We will therefore witness a major transformation of human spaces. When we talk about a sustainable future, we have to think about it in terms of cities. Every year we will see the emergence of new cities,” explained Ambassador Vincenzo de Luca.
Italian photographer Gabriele Basilico, who died in 2013 at the age of 68, has often been described as the world’s best cityscape photographer. Born in Milan, Italy, in 1944, he achieved international fame in 1982 with his photographic report on the industrial areas of Milan. In the mid-1980s, he was part of a group of photographers commissioned by the French government to document the transformations of the French landscape.
In 1991, he joined other international photographers on a mission to Beirut, devastated by a decade and a half of civil war. His examination of the cityscapes of Venice, Milan, Rome, Moscow, London, Paris, Istanbul, Monte Carlo, Tel Aviv, Shanghai, San Francisco and Rio de Janeiro, among others, remains the culmination of his singular photographic work.
Dr. Andrea Baldi, Director of the Cultural Center of the Italian Embassy, was instrumental in bringing the Gabriele Basilico Photo Exhibition to India. When he met Basilico in Beirut in 2011, he promised to collaborate with him in the near future, but at the time he had no idea it would take another decade to materialize.
“This exhibition is for me the fulfillment of a promise that I had made at Basilico when we met in Beirut, where I was director of the Italian Cultural Center, in 2011. We had dinner together and we promised to collaborate in the future. He died in 2013, so the promise was not kept. I am happy to have fulfilled the promise now and to have been able to bring his work to India for the first time,” Baldi revealed.
‘Gabriele Basilico Photographs 1978-2012’ is the first exhibition in India devoted exclusively to the late Italian photographer.
“While some of Basilico’s photographs had already been brought to India by the Italian Cultural Center in 2018 in two different group exhibitions, this is the first exhibition in India devoted exclusively to the great photographer. Sixty-one photographs from around the world tell the story of a predominantly contemporary urban architecture, not always beautiful, but which, depicted in its photographs, takes on a poetic patina.I would like to thank Giovanna Calvenzi of the Gabriele Basilico archives and the curator Filippo Maggia for making this exhibition possible added Baldi.
The idea for the photo exhibition was influenced by a 2001 book for which the Osella d’Oro-winning Italian photographer presented a selection of 55 photos. In the words of Giovanna Calvenzi of the Gabriele Basilico Archive, “We wanted to present a sort of ‘Best Of’ aimed at an international audience, in a country that did not necessarily know his work, a collection of images chosen by the author -even alongside the most recent ones.The idea for this exhibition was somehow influenced and inspired by a 2001 book, “Gabriele Basilico 55”, published by the English publishing house “Phaidon Press”, for which Basilico presented a selection of 55 photos, which he believed at the time to be some of his most interesting photos.
Besides the aforementioned book, the exhibition is also based on a previous selection, for the exhibition at the Italian Cultural Institute in Tokyo in June 2021. “The Tokyo exhibition was already a ‘Best Of’ collection, but very concise and specific. It was a bit like an essay, a test. For this reason, we have chosen to add other works that not only complete the exhibition project but allow the Indian public to familiarize themselves with the work of a fundamental contemporary Indian author,” explained curator Filippo Maggia.
Maggia further explained: “The important tradition that India has in photography, especially in relation to street photography, a lens from which Gabriele’s work can be, in some ways, approached. ” Admittedly, this is a different way of conceiving photography, but we must nevertheless consider how other authors, such as Thomas Struth or Keizo Kitajima, born architectural photographers, have taken part in numerous exhibitions devoted to the city, in particular to the early 2000s. I remember, in this regard, ‘Instant City: Photography and Metropolis’ held in 2001 at the ‘Pecci Museum’ in Prato, Italy, in which the Indian photographer Raghubir Singh also participated.
The Gabriele Basilico Photo Exhibition marks the first collaboration between the Italian Embassy Cultural Center and Museo Camera, a unique camera museum in the middle of a major business hub in Delhi’s NCR. “This is the first time that we have collaborated with Museo Camera. It’s an amazing art space in the city. I am fully satisfied with the work done together and we are planning more events with Museo Camera in the future,” Baldi revealed.
Museo Camera is the largest non-profit photography and camera museum in Southeast Asia. It is headed by an Indian photographer named Aditya Arya who is known for collecting, curating and archiving rare collections of photographs. “I am grateful to Andrea for presenting this exhibition at the Museo Camera, which is a unique place for photography lovers. Now, Gabriele Basilico has photographed various cities all over the world, but he was never able to come to India because he passed away in 2013. And, as far as this exhibition is concerned, it is very unique because this exhibition is a tribute to Basilico . Arya gloats.
The author is an Indian critic and journalist who has covered film, art and culture for over 10 years. The opinions expressed are personal.
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