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Angela Lo Priore invited me to her place for an interview, to a cozy apartment in the center of Milan, for lunch. “Any suggestions, allergies, etc.?”, she asked. “No, everything to your taste”, I replied. Like many Italian women, she is an excellent cook, she chooses simple, but top quality ingredients.
As a result, we eat integral pasta with lowered fresh tomatoes on low heat with olive oil, basil and peperoncino, drinking fine wine, and talking about her work.
- Angela, you are going to the exhibition Paris Photo, which will be November 8-11. Is this your first participation there?
- No, I already participated there last year. And in general, I visit this exhibition, probably from it's foundation, for more than 20 years, as it is the largest in the world, and gives the most complete picture of modern photography, works as a source of new ideas. This year I am going there with a new project “Stairs Obsession”.
Photo from project «Stairs Obsession», photo © angelalopriore.com
- Tell us a little, why “Stairs” and why such a name?
- These are special spiral stairs, where is dizziness, fear of heights. I even thought of calling the project by another name, Vertigo. Slightly inspired by Hitchcock movies. I consider this state of vertigo as female fragility, loss of consciousness, forgotness in emotions.
- How was born the idea of the project?
- By chance. Although, probably, my "unconscious" prompted. I worked on a project related to architecture. Already photographed the palace of the architect Carlo Mollino in Turin, one of the most famous architects of rationalism (by the way, he was also an excellent photographer), but when I went inside I saw this huge staircase on 8 floors, on which the building was strung. I decided to try, took a model, and she began to walk up and down these stairs ... I took photots, trying to find the best position. At some point, the idea came to me: "Come on, show me, as you have fallen from these stairs". She portrayed until I found the best option. Then I went to my gallery owner, Valerio Tazzetti, Photo Contemporary, he was delighted with this photo, and took it to the exhibition Paris Photo last year, as he presented photos of rationalism architecture there.
Stairs in the palace of the architect Carlo Mollino in Turin, photo © angelalopriore.com
- But in this photo I can feel fear and pain ... why?
- Watching this photo, I realized that it represents me and my pain. In April 2017, I went on business to New York, and there I fell from one of these stairs. I fell very painfully, broke both my legs. It took me about 6 months of special exercises to recover. But this pain, this feeling of falling - it remained, and, probably, in these photos went outside of me. I took photos in September 2017, and in November I went with them to Paris Photo. That is, subconsciously, I photographed my story. And it was awful for me. Because of this stupid fall, I almost could not walk for six months, and only after a year I completely recovered. But there was also an emotional disappointment, a loss. And here, this state of vertigo emphasizes the fragility of the women soul, fear and magnetism to emptiness, as if you are standing on a high balcony, and you have a fear of falling, and an irresistible craving for emptiness below.
And in these photos, I continue to explore the spiritual world of women. Photos are very different, women in different positions, naked or dressed, felt or standing, they can be interpreted in different ways. Photography should not tell everything - it should evoke feelings and different interpretations of the audience.
- Now you have a cycle of 14 stairs. How do you find them?
- Having seen my first works, my friends began to advise me, “you can find such stairs there, in Turin, in Milan ...”
- I understand that the latest project always seems the most interesting. But we are at the table, so I can't not remember your project “Eat me!”, from which an excellent book was made by the publishing house Skira.
- The project “Eat me!” was born in 2015, after talking with a famous chef. Then he left the project, but I thought it might be very interesting. After all, the relationship "woman and food" is always very interesting. Now there is a stereotype that a woman should be always beautiful, young, slim and thin. In a natural way or with the help of aesthetic surgery. Therefore, women struggle, struggle every day to be even more beautiful, thinner, they go to the gym, exhaust themselves with diets. My work is a bit ironic. They do not make fun of women, but make them think whether it is better to chase standards or stay original? Beauty is in the uniqueness and originality, with its defects. If earlier they tried to show only absolutely correct, ideal women, now it has even become fashionable to show scars and defects. After all, the ideal is the same, similar and boring, there is no soul in it. As sometimes you go to someone's house, and there is an ideal order. And you understand that there is no real life there. By the way, I also included myself in this project, where I photograph myself in a mirror, with a camera, which turned into a meat grinder.
Photo from project «Eat me!», photo © angelalopriore.com
- These photos are full of eroticism.
- Yes, I am an esthete, of course, I chose both models and a plot. I am a lover of beauty. But, for example, try to stop time, and in 60 years try to look 30, I find it painful. Search only erotica in my works - it is superficial.
- You identify yourself as a portrait photographer. Therefore, I remember another project from which a beautiful book of black and white photos came out - “One Hundred Portraits” (Skira).
- Yes, these are a hundred portraits of famous actors, directors and musicians. In fact, I had several hundred of them, but we decided with the publisher that a hundred portraits would be correct in format, besides a round number is graphically beautiful. There are young actors who became famous afterwards and also already very famous, like Ennio Morricone, Al Pacino, George Clooney, Wim Wenders, Jeremy Irons, Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Scarlett Johansson and many others. It all started with the star-beloved movie hotel in Capri, which I photographed. And it grew into a big project that would have been enough for a couple of such books.
- How did you become a photographer?
- I approached photography when I was very young, in Milan, because my friend was a photographer and an assistant to great photographers, such as Gianpaolo Barbieri, Mauro Balletti, and others. They gave me the first reflex-camera, and a friend explained to me the basics of photography. But photography in the 80s was elitist, and was almost completely in the hands of men, with the exception of a few women, 3-4, against a hundred men. Then I moved to Rome, and began to study. I liked the movie, and I wanted to be a director-scriptwriter, and at the university my thesis was devoted to cinema. But then the passion for photography exceeded, and I began to photograph, first architecture, inside and out. In addition to the University, I graduated from Istituto di Design e Fotografia in Rome, and specialized in photography.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Scarlett Johansson from the book «One Hundred Portraits», photo © angelalopriore.com
- The revolution in photography occurred with the transition to digital photography. Have you become a digital photographer?
- I started with a film, but then immediately switched to a digital. Let's just say that digital professional photography began with the transition to the new millennium. Then, I remember, I studied the Photoshop. When we take pictures in digital format, it is called RAW, i.e. it must be processed, brought to mind. We work with color, contrast, make a photo warm or cold. Then someone works on the form, for example, to make it more beautiful, remove wrinkles, etc. But times have changed. If you go to Newton's exhibition and see these huge photos of women, then you will see body hair, skin pores, acne ... We have lost the habit of seeing this, because we have the opportunity to correct the defect. If Henri Cartier-Bresson lived in the digital age, he would use a digital photo. We must live in our time. It’s ridiculous to ride a horse if you have a car.
- Someone from the photographers said that the digital photo spoiled the whole photo and led to its collapse ...
- No, of course not. We live in our era, and we need to use all possible means that we have now. The digital photo did not become the sunset of the photo, it is a different type of photo, its evolution, if you want. Of course, there is nostalgia for vintage, for example, furniture of the 70s is now in fashion. There is a romanticism of the past, when they say, "it was better before". But this is not true, it is just nostalgia for the past. I am a person who looks forward to the future. And I have moments of nostalgia for the past, but I need to live in the present, which is projected into the future.
Angela Lo Priore is a person, who looks to the future, photo © angelalopriore.com
- Have you ever been in Russia?
- No, I have not had such an opportunity yet. But I would really like to go to Russia, as a tourist or for work. I would like to have a gallery in Russia, or at least the one who represented me there. I think Russians might like my photos.
Evgeny Utkin, Italy, Milan
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