Woman at the Musée Du Quai Branly, Paris

Paris (France). Walking around a museum for me does not mean only watching an exhibition: I always bring my camera with me, and I like to shoot photos of people. In a certain sense, I like to see the artworkts through their eyes.

I remember – long time ago – when I was visiting a museum I used to capture images of paintings and sculptures: at the end, in terms of photographic experience, it was a nonsense. Why should I take a photo of La Gioconda at the Louvre museum? Most probably it will not be perfectly straight, there will be someone between the painting and my camera, and the final result will be affected by the reflection of the light against the protective glass. And the same is valid for basically every museum or exhibition around the world.

So, what should I do in a museum with a camera? The answer – as said – is simple: I see art through people’s eyes. In this perspective, the merge (or the overlap) of a masterpiece with the emotion it creates on those watching it, is far beyond the simply beauty. There’s an emotion, an experience, something that – for this simple reason – becomes unique and exclusive.

And, last but not last, photographing art in a crowded museum is frustrating, whereas photographing people is always exciting.

For this photo I used my new travel companion, which performs amazingly in low light conditions…

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Oh No, Don’t Look At Me In That Way (at the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris)

Paris (France). Just playing with a Leica Summicron-M 1:2/50 lens at the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, inside the Gallery of Palaeontology and Comparative Anatomy (Les galeries d’anatomie comparée et de paléontologie).

This is one of my favorite places in Paris: every time I walk along its corridors, I’m so fascinated by the environment, by the architecture (designed with large windows to let natural light illuminate the interior), and of course by the hundreds of animals – including parts of them, such as bones and organs – exposed in the same original way, which dated back to 1898 as part of l’ Expositions universelles de Paris of 1900.

Henri Cartier-Bresson used to spend a lot of his time here, especially when he retired. Probably, also for this reason I find this place so incredibly inspiring…

Parigi. Baloccamenti con un obbiettivo Leica Summicron-M 1:2/50 al Museo Nazionale di Storia Naturale, all’interno della Galleria di Paleontologia e di Anatomia Comparata (Les galeries d’anatomie comparée et de paléontologie).

Questo è uno dei miei posti preferiti a Parigi. ogni volta che cammino lungo i suoi corridoi, sono così affascinato dall’ambiente, dall’architettura (progettata con grandi finestre per far entrare dentro la luce naturale) e ovviamente dalle centinaia di animali – incluse parti di essi come ossa e organi – esposte nella loro posizione originale risalente al 1898 come parte dell’Esposizione Universale di Parigi del 1900.

Henri Cartier-Bresson era solito passare molto tempo qui, specialmente quando si ritirò dal lavoro. Probabilmente, anche per questo motivo trovo questo posto così incredibilmente stimolante…


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Apricots From Damascus (SALT Galata Istanbul)

Istanbul (Turkey). Days ago, I visited the SALT Galata Gallery in Karakoy, Istanbul. There was the exhibition “Apricots from Damascus”, an interesting project focused on a group of refugees who rely on their creative and intellectual abilities in the fields of art, writing, and music, to survive in Istanbul. It must be considered that since 2011 Turkey (of course including Istanbul) has become the destination of migrants who left Syria due to the Civil War.

The Turkish translation of “Apricots from Damascus” is “Şam’da Kayısı”, which is also part of an idiomatic expression meaning “It does not get any better than this” (the complete sentence is “Bundan iyisi, Şam’da kayısı”). Furthermore, in countries such as Argentina, Chile, and Peru, the word for “apricot” is “damasco”, which could indicate that, to the Spanish settlers of Argentina, the fruit was associated with Damascus in Syria.

I could stay hours writing here my thoughts about the terrible situation in Syria and the immigrants’ conditions. And most probably, I even would not say anything of interesting, being all of us used to the stream of images coming from this cruel war. I just want to remark this exhibition, and how arts can be part – if not of the pacification process – at least of the refugees’ survival.

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The Altar and the Mihrab of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul

Istanbul (Turkey). This is probably the most “symbolic” and characteristic part of Hagia Sophia, which was built as an orthodox basilica, then converted into a mosque and today is a very popular museum in Istanbul.

But why this corner is so symbolic? The answer is simple but – in my opinion – extremely logic: it shows at the same time the apse (where there was the Hagia Sophia Basilica’s altar) and the mosque’s mihrab, the semicircular niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the “qibla”, the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca and hence the direction that Muslims should face when praying. The mihrab was added when Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque in 1453, after the conquest of Istanbul with Mohammed II.

Visiting Hagia Sophia is like hopping on a time machine: there are so many testaments of the building’s history, that the visitor bears the risk that being mesmerised by the wonderful mosaics and the magnificence of the interior, will not notice them. When I accompany someone at Hagia Sophia, this is the first place where I go: here there is the essence of a place that is unique not only for its beauty, but also for its history.


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