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Chronicles of an unusual workshop

16 students, an efficient assistant (Zoe Zizola), a photographer (Paolo Verzone) and an editor, myself, on a very intense three-day workshop during the opening of the ninth edition of Cortona On the Move.

What was that about? Simple, photographing Cortona. We have entrusted to each one of us, according to his or her sensitivity, the possibility of interpreting it: by broadening the vision or by circumscribing it.
A few hours of shooting, many discussions, a collective editing experience and a final check with an external editor, Manila Camarini of D, la Repubblica delle donne.
The result is this online exhibition that conveys diversity and originality. Here is a quick presentation of the group, to give you some insight into the work.
Claudia Amatruda, sensible and refined, surprises us, with the textures of food and walls: simple surfaces that hide different matters confuse us, in order to stimulate our imagination; Antonella Argirò, is trying to find her feet, works on portraits and, from the street, she presents us with the most beautiful sky and Cortona’s most magic clouds. Michael Calabrò searches and finds unusual landscapes, while Virginia Campisi returns the simple, quiet and motionless beauty of a corner of Tuscany. Sara Cervelli, a daredevil, goes up to the fortress and discovers the primordiality of these places: roots that climb walls of centuries-old stone and light that filters and blinds, for an unusual perception of the place. Ilaria Lagioia goes down to the cellar to portray the producers of the excellent Chianti wine, but in the evening she goes off to the square to document the party, in a wild surge of true street photography. Silvia Coppini also portrays the wine producers’ cellars and, like Ilaria, wanders around Cortona, but she finds something else: she comes across the historic manifestation of vintage cars and motorcycles. She decided to shoot in black and white, to emphasize the retro imagery. Giorgia Di Tria loves details and narrow shots: she enters the church and takes details of drapes, marbles and woods, in the darkness illuminated by the flash, for a dark atmosphere with a cinematographic flavour. Salvatore Vinci ideally continues Giorgia’s poetics, thus – in the portrait of the priest and in the details of the church – he best expresses his professional ability. Religious mysticism is certainly a heritage of this territory, it exudes from the ancient walls of dozens of churches, of which the church of Saint Margaret is perhaps the most important, since it is dedicated to the patron saint of this town. The only lay saint who, in the thirteenth century, preferred love to marriage, she has been renamed saint of de facto couples in modern times. Ada Mandic chooses her, Saint Margaret, for her photography: she reads the story and looks for her traces among evocative details and suggestive views. Elena Onti boldly cuts the scene, combining interesting views with chromatic choices and a cohesive light. Roberta Sassone is an architect and, even if she doesn’t practice, she can’t escape the fascination of perspectives. The Cortona of her portraits is therefore one of corners and roofs, of stone and dovetails, ancient and majestic, which dominates the plain from the top of the hill. Stefano Tambalo captures this plain with the colours of summer: vineyards covered in sunlight and the shades of blue of the sky plunging into the declinations of the green grass. Simone Toson and Rossella Santosuosso focus on portraits, the heart of this workshop in which Paolo Verzone has been able, with a few magical tips and little tricks, to provide the necessary skills so that everyone can develop their own personal research. There is a trace of these notions in the conclusion of this online exhibition: a sort of general rehearsal in which all the authors have experimented with the setting and the light, assisted by Dario Fatello, student and attendant.
As always, a group is planned beforehand, on paper, but lives and grows in a completely spontaneous way. It can be organised, it is what we have tried, but it cannot be oppressed and therefore the rules are set, yet knowing very well that they will be violated. I have to admit, this group has done much more than expected: it has come together with extraordinary joy, dedicating itself to the task with passion and a small dose of unexpected sacrifice. However, if I have to be honest and really take stock, this group has really made the most difficult and the best of tasks by living a human adventure, establishing relationships of exchange, allowing empathy and concentrating in 72 hours an extraordinary range of thoughts, words and emotions.

The magic of photography and the community that animates it.

Miracles that happen in Cortona on The Move.

Renata Ferri
21.7.2019