An Investigation into Photography at the Observatory of the Fondazione Prada

What is a cast by Antonio Canova conserved in Possagno doing next to The Three Graces by Lucas Cranach on display at the Kunstmuseum in Basilea, or a photo album from the end of the 1800s on Pompei next to a model of the Pantheon on display at Sir John Soane’s Museum in London? In the Observatory of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the idea of Stefano Graziani unites a heterogenous mix of objects and works of art, transforming them into disorienting and unexpected still lifes. Questioning Pictures includes a new body of works of art commissioned by the Fondazione Prada, that explore photography as a narrative, cataloguing and reinterpreting tool. The photographer looks at the archiving systems of museums such as the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) in Montreal, Sir John Soane’s Museum in London, the Kunstmuseum Basel, the Museo di Castelvecchio in Verona and the statue collection at the (“gipsoteca”) at the Museo Canova in Possagno, concentrating on the ambivalent relationship between photography and museum objects. Graziani, who lives and works in Trieste, on one hand, carries out a job of documenting various mediums such as drawings and architectural models - books, photographs and paintings - while on the other, he takes on the role of interpreter, carefully using light and point of view, as well as including disturbing elements in his shots. Beyond displaying museum and archival collections, usually inaccessibile to the public, his shots redefine the subjects through highly personal logic and perspective. The dialogue between the photos and the objects represented, with the visual and semantic matchings created by the artist, is enriched by their display, conceived as a system of moveable and colourful screens, laid out over the two levels of the Observatory.
Samantha De Martin - © 2017 for Bulgari Hotel Milano