This series of photographs was created as part of a wider and ongoing research project on cinema venues in Italy: the roles they played, the relation with the general public and space. Notes, interviews and archival materials are interposed with a series of photographs created at the British School at Rome in the winter 2014. Some of the work was realised by creating a temporary installation to reconnect selected public spaces with the role they played as open-air cinemas, suggesting the presence of screens, fences and shelters.
The starting point for me was learning about the formidable role that cinema played in Italy. I decided to use the closing sequence of the film La Presa di Roma (1905) as the opening image. The public projection of this movie was held at Porta Pia in 1905 on the exact spot where 25 years earlier the famous ‘Breccia’ led to the birth of Italy as a unified modern nation-state. The film was a reconstruction of the events that took place in 1870 and was framed as a celebration of national unity. I imagined the screen used in 1905 to be like a thin membrane, almost transparent, simultaneously dividing and unifying the public in front of it, the events happening in the film itself and the space where it was projected. Reality and fiction were starting a journey, which continued throughout the 20th Century from the propaganda of the newsreels to Neorealist cinema where again the city and its inhabitants, the public, were both on the screen and in front of it. I am fascinated by the relationship between the spectacle and the spectator. I like to imagine it as a series of circular paths crossing each other where the figures projected and the audience continue to exchange places, values, ideas and ways of behaving, almost becoming simulacra themselves.
This blog-post has been created by intertwining materials from different sources with the aim of offering a bridge between artistic and academic research. The process saw the materials first organized in the form of a zine, a small book that led to the creation of the blog-post. The texts are drawn from three different interviews, all collected in Venice, with M.Osetta: a partisan, R. Benedetti: an assiduous cinema-goer, and G. Bortolotti: a projectionist and manager of cinema venues. The interviews and most of the black and white photographs are all part of the materials produced for the research thesis I Cinema di Venezia: Spazi, Trasformazioni, Rapporti con la Città (The Cinema Theatres of Venice: Space, Transformation, Relationship with the City), IUAV, Venice, 2008. The other images: film stills and colour photographs are both part of the process and outcome of the work realised by Daniele during the artist in residence at the British School at Rome in the winter of 2014.
Daniele Sambo BSc in Urban and Landscape at the IUAV University of Venice, MDes in Photography at Glasgow School of Art. Now based in Glasgow, Sambo is a visiting lecturer at the Glasgow School of Art. His most recent awards and exhibitions include Creative Photography Fellowship 2014 at the British School at Rome; New Scottish Landscapes, Stills Gallery, Edinburgh; You are the company in which we keep with the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland.