Lomography Italy had the honor and the pleasure of interviewing photographer and instant film artist Maurizio Galimberti. Apart from creating one of his stunning and famous mosaics just for us, and answered a few questions for this interview. Read more after the jump.
A surveyor who then turned to photography. How did this change happen?
Initially, photography was just a hobby for me. I used to shoot in black and white film (from 1974 to 1982) develop and print my own pictures, but I didn’t really enjoy working in the darkroom. That is why I got closer to instant photography and, at the same time, I started studying art history, to add a new dimension to my work.
You know, everyone can create images, but, as Italo Calvino said, “Creativity is like jam, it needs to be spread on a robust bread slice”;if you don’t have a background, a heritage to confront your work and your vision with, you don’t get anywhere!
I started from Impressonists and with manipulated instant photographs, then I approached the Avant-garde from the 900s, that’s where my work was born.
In 1988, I met Achille Abramo Saporiti, Polaroid’s communication manager, and Nino Migliori, famous photographer, during one of my exhibitions in Vicenza.
That’s how I got close to the world of Polaroid Italia and started making research for Saporiti. Finally, in 1992, I said goodbye to my life as a surveyor… “Goodbye everyone, I’m going to shoot pictures with Polaroids!” I can now say I won that bet!
What is about analogue photography that fascinates you and, in particular, about instant photography?
I like analogue photography, but instant photography is just above everything else: when you shoot a picture, you get an emotion right away! Colors are magic…it’s real love!
If you learn how to shoot instant pictures, you learn how to be direct: the picture becomes the extension of your eye.
Your Instant mosaics are legendary. How were they born?
My work on mosaic art is from the end of the ‘80s, when I started researching on Avant Garde, Bauhaus, Danel Spoerri’s black and white mosaic on which he would use paint, Hockney and Lucas Samaras’ mosaic. I was also fascinated by a famous Talking Heads cover
Apart from this, I was also influenced by Braque and Picasso’s Cubism, so I started experimenting on their technique, but I wasn’t convinced.
From 1985 to 1986 I decided to work mostly on mosaics, making them in various sizes…when Alan Fidler, Polaroid’s engineer in Boston, showed me The Collector, the box/camera I now use for my portraits.
We worked on colors and started experimenting on portraits with The Collector. I was the first one to use it in that way.
My projects are also inspired by Boccioni’s Futurism, with its dynamic lines that go up and down, as in my portraits.
Portraits or architectures: which one do you prefer?
Portraits are fascinating because you are really in touch with a human being, while architecture shots are interesting because you can make something new out of an already existing object.
I love both of them, but if I had to choose, I would go for the portrait.
Which one of your works satisfied you the most?
I would definitely say “la Vucciria di Palermo”, from 1992: it has incredible colors!
We know you took pictures of really famous people, Johnny Depp, Robert De Niro, Lady Gaga…Do you have some funny memory to share with us?
Well, Lady Gaga kept on telling me “Call me Caca” and I told her “look, in Italian that’s not a good thing at all!” (caca=poo)…and then, when we finished shooting, she passionately kissed me! I wasn’t really happy, she’s definitely not my type!
Johnny Depp…well, he was so happy about his portrait, he went running to Des Bains in the Excelsior (Venice).
Then, something really nice happened with Rober de Niro: at the beginning he wasn’t so keen on having his portrait. I had to do it for Polaroid, which was the sponsor of the TriBeCa festival, which was founded by De Niro himself, among others. He thought the portrait would be ridiculous with that “plastic thing” (The Collector camera), but he posed in the end.
After we finished, he apologized and started crying, because in that portrait he saw his own fears and his resemblance with his mother and father. Two days later, he commissioned portraits for his entire family.
This is what portraits are about: you borrow someone’s soul for two minutes and then you give it back for eternity through a picture.
Yes, it was the first time and I loved it! At the beginning, I had to get used to idea of “shooting and then pressing the eject button” and I had to throw away a few shots. Once I got used to it, it was very easy and entertaining! I liked the lens, really…although it’s a plastic lens, it’s amazing! The fact that you can adapt the aperture was really useful, especially in Puglia, where we had a lot of sun. The result is an amazing color! I will surely use it again!
What kind of project did you work on for Lomography?
At the moment, I’m working with Arianna Grimoldi, a famous model. I was in Puglia and I had this weird camera with me to test…so I decided to use it. It took me about an hour to work it out, but then I started shooting. The result is a “summer shot” of a woman with a mask, with no identity, almost animal-like…some sort of Paolina Bonaparte of nowadays. An image for summer covers.
Any upcoming projects, exhibitions, workshops?
Apart from my work with Arianna Grimoldi, I’ve got a perfomance scheduled at Columbus University in New York on June 14th, an exhibition from July 18th at the Dillon Gallery, in NYC, and an “instant project” in Paris.
Obviously, there are often commissioned portraits.
What advice would you give to our instant-lover community?
Always try and find meaning in your shots: shallow pictures don’t bring you anywhere. Again as Calvino said about “the robust bread slice” In this case, the bread slice is the study, the understanding of artists and culture of the past and the present in order to create your own and personal interpretation. I think that sometimes, those who have Lomo cameras can be a bit superficial with their cameras.
At a time when it’s so easy and common to take pictures at everything, I think those “poor” but fascinating objects, such as Lomography or Polaroid cameras, are so much better than digital cameras. I bet no one would be able, with a digital camera, to take a picture like the one I made for you with the Diana F+.
I’m convinced that your community members want to experiment and work on a personal research: that is, I think, the best way to find their own path.