In Conversation with the New Photography Space CONDOMINIO & the Photographer Giacomo Colombo

Museums are reopening, galleries are promoting new exhibitions and young art lovers are trying to carve out their own space to discuss art and promote collaborations. This is what is happening in Milan, where a co-sharing space entirely dedicated to contemporary photography has recently been created. Born from the union of the experiences of Matteo Garzonio, Alessandro Calabrese and Desiree Mele, CONDOMINIO aims at encouraging the creation of new synergies between artists, curators, galleries and publishers.

They have recently opened an exhibition entitled ITALIA 90, which includes the works of 15 young Italian emerging photographers. Among them, Giacomo Colombo, a new artist who recently joined ISSUE .07 community.

So, let's discover more about them!

Giacomo Colombo, ITALIA 90 - Exhibition view, 2021.

What prompted the decision to open CONDOMINIO? What is the inner force that drives your co-sharing space?

C: CONDOMINIO is a project that stems primarily from the will and enthusiasm of the entrepreneur Matteo Garzonio who decided to transform part of his studio into a space dedicated to photography, one of his greatest passions. Together with him, we - Desiree Mele and Alessandro Calabrese - conceived CONDOMINIO: a space that wants to be open and receptive to the various creative realities and practices existing in Italy and abroad, with the aim of creating a space for artists, curators, galleries, publishers, and enthusiasts to meet and synergise. The choice to focus on contemporary photography was spontaneous: all three of us have experiences related to photography and, particularly, we share the interest in the research and practices developed in the field of image culture over the last twenty years.

How is CONDOMINIO structured? What kind of services do you offer to artists?

C: CONDOMINIO activities are divided into 4 macro-areas and are aimed at all photography professionals and enthusiasts, not just artists: Exhibitions, Education/Events, Calls and Co-showing. Therefore, there is certainly an annual exhibition program that includes 3/4 exhibitions resulting from research and experimentation projects or from public calls, such as ITALIA 90, along with collaborations with independent curatorial figures. Additionally, CONDOMINIO wants to be a place and platform to meet and deepen practices related to contemporary photography through workshops, talks, and presentations of authorial/editorial projects. In this regard, we have already organized workshops related to photo booking, with Skinnerboox publishing house and the photographers Federico Clavarino and Christian Patterson. Interested in researching the photography of today and tomorrow, we also want to promote public calls as a means of discovering and supporting new and young talents, offering them various opportunities: from exhibitions to publications. Finally, by proposing and experimenting with new exhibition models for the arts system, we want to host in our space other realities (galleries, non-profit spaces, etc.) already in activity that are seeking a "window" in Milan for short periods or collaboration opportunities for new projects.

Giacomo Colombo, ITALIA 90 - Exhibition view, 2021.

What’s the rationale behind ITALIA 90? What’s the link between the glorious World Cup and art photography?

C: We wanted to inaugurate the space with an exhibition for the youngsters because we were curious to understand what the new generation of artists working with images is producing or studying. Hence the decision to dedicate our first call to the under-30s authors. Not that the projects of the over 30s are any less interesting, but for our first exhibition we wanted to involve students who had just graduated or, in any case, those who had not yet had any opportunities. Our interest, for this first call, was also aimed at artists who lived, studied, or worked in Italy. ITALIA 90 therefore seemed to fit the idea of our project and the link with the World Cup was a simple ironic expedient on which we built the communication of the same.

The artists who took part in ITALIA 90 were only allowed to exhibit one photograph. Why did you set this criterion? Don't you think it is a challenge to encompass the entire artistic research of a photographer in a single photograph?

C: The choice to exhibit only one work per artist was dictated above all by the practical requirements of space, but also, if you like, by "curatorial" ones. We do not think that a work can enclose and summarize an entire artistic project, but it can definitely arise curiosity and questions. The 15 works are only representative, but not exhaustive; they just want to suggest and anticipate the content of the photographic works, which find space for a visual-textual study within the catalogue that completes (and not only accompanies) the exhibition. The catalogue, produced in collaboration with the creative studio Gluqbar, is indeed conceived as a central element as much as the 15 artworks.

Giacomo Colombo, ITALIA 90 - Exhibition view, 2021.

What is in the future of CONDOMINIO? Where do you see it in five years?

C: Still here in Milan, doing well what we have now programmatically set as objectives and growing our network of contacts. We believe that by exchanging, dialoguing, and collaborating, we can bring to life valuable projects and new opportunities. In 5 years, we hope to have realised quite a few of them.

Let's now explore the perspective of one of the photographers who is taking part in ITALIA 90: Giacomo Colombo. He graduated in Communication Design at Politecnico di Milano in 2017 and obtained a Diploma in Photography and Visual Communication at Cfp Bauer in 2019. Giacomo's research is based on re-appropriations, reactions to unforeseen changes, and reconnections. By taking a diverse approach which explores photography, sculpture and collage, his practice oscillates between transformative operations and the use of the traditional photographic medium. Giacomo's recent work, Alternate Takes, questions the boundaries between reality and representation, addressing the ambiguity of the photographic experience within contemporary image-making.

Giacomo Colombo, Alternate Take #19, from the series Alternate Takes, 2020

Why did you decide to respond to the ITALIA 90 open call? What was your main interest in CONDOMINIO?

GC: I believe that CONDOMINIO is a new project that wants to give space to young people and that, in the case of ITALIA 90, it operates in a perspective of openness towards works characterised by more experimental approaches. Also, I wanted to confront the members of the ITALIA 90 jury.

How did you choose the photograph to be displayed in the exhibition?

GC: Starting from a discussion with Alessandro Calabrese, co-founder and curator of CONDOMINIO, we selected a limited series of images that we thought might be illustrative of the project and suitable for a collective exhibition. Following our evaluations, the choice fell on an image that is intended to represent the extreme manifestation of the process of reworking personal visual materials and the attempt to overcome the traditional image towards new territories, which are central elements of my work. Accordingly, the work exhibited is a residue of transformation and disintegration, an overcoming of the initial visual elements.

What prompted the desire to take this route? How did the series Alternate Takes start and develop?

GC: I felt the need to re-evaluate the role of the photographic medium in the process of generating what can be now defined as a photographic image, especially because I became increasingly interested in the range of tools that may contribute to the creation of visual works. I am interested in thinking in terms of re-appropriation and working with photography as a raw material in a personal journey of hybridisation between analogue and digital elements.

The process consists of selecting a variety of materials from my archive, both film negatives and digital files. I then work directly on the photographs: low-quality prints, cropping, enlargements, overlays, post-production manipulations and compulsive digital documentation, all combine to distort their representational nature. This approach leads to significant and sometimes unexpected results, as well as to severe limitations: the series consists of twenty-four works selected from numerous other attempts and scraps. The raw material is processed according to levels that overlap and mix together, giving rise to different types of spatial and temporal arrangements. As a result, the relationship between tangible and non-tangible elements, between what is analogue/concrete and what is digital/virtual, becomes ambiguous. While some of the images in the series retain figurative elements that can suggest ideas or narrative paths to the viewer, this type of work is meant to reflect an idea of photography folding in on itself. I am strongly influenced by both the ways in which an image can be produced and how it can be distributed, enjoyed, re-evaluated, and twisted in structure and content. The working process and visual experience are indeed central to this discourse. The transformation and transfiguration of visual materials can lead to potentially infinite paths. To what extent can the resistance of an image be pushed? How can decontextualised visual elements, whose initial contents and meanings have been re-evaluated or distorted, be reactivated? For me it is an evolving journey into new territories.

Author, ISSUE .07 Team

Featured in this Article

CONDOMINIO - Website ; Instagram

Giacomo Colombo - Website ; Instagram

Matteo Garzonio - Website ; Instagram

Desiree Mele - Instagram

Alessandro Calabrese - Website ; Instagram

Skinnerboox - Website ; Instagram

Federico Clavarino - Website ; Instagram

Christian Patterson - Website ; Instagram

Gluqbar - Website ; Instagram