This is the time of the year when the air becomes light. We feel it, it winds us, crisp, letting foresee a changing and filling us up with thrill. We can almost touch it and our molecules rejoice thinking that those months are finally behind the corner. During winter I often forget how precious it is the sensation of the warmth on your skin, the shivers it triggers – electric shocks that reach the tip of my hair.
Then something takes hold of the throat and by extension the corner of the mouth turns up. Pure magic.
A bit like the one that Luigi Ghirri does in his pictures, where anything that is captured possesses a reverberating aura, which whispers and flutters at every glance. And the eyes keep staring, entangled in those moments stolen from the passing of time. A light is cast on everything and reveals the invisible – a veneer of melancholic happiness that forms memories.
«It’s the light the real substance that creates my pictures (…) Light is for me the real genius loci (…) through my work I discovered the existence of a particular moment in which something apparently invisible ends up revealed through light on the surface of the world.»
His pictures have a dazzling effect on us – we don’t know if they make us feel happy or sad. Maybe it’s their vagueness that lures us: the lack of perfection, their ephemeral, limited nature – just like us humans. They disappoint and deceive like anything sentimental, blurring the edges, softening the contours, cradling us.
Ghirri playfully lets us walk a tightrope between the impersonal and the familiar. And it’s exactly in the moment we loose our balance and step a foot on this last half that something clicks inside us. We are hooked and every detail, even the most innocent or ordinary, is contemplated and becomes sacred – like when you stare at something in full light and it starts shining – almost burning – and the whole silhouette goes out of focus.
«It’s difficult to say why a room, the stones of a street, a corner in a garden seen for the first time, a wall, a colour, a space, a house suddenly become familiar, ours. We feel that we’ve lived those places, a total harmony makes us forget that all of this existed before and will keep existing beyond our sight».
Its pictures recall imaginary places in which anything could potentially happen – but in the end nothing does. And in those suspended scenarios we are lost and found many times – almost as if they would belong to our family album instead of someone else’s. This is how they become infinite, everyone and nobody’s memories at the same time. Still the more you look at them, the more you feel the need to keep discovering them – just like in front of a cherry basket. Another one and then another one and one more.
I find reassuring his accuracy in collecting places of the memory in one big catalogue. Maybe it’s because I am obsessed with lists, but this carefulness has on me the same effect of a warm bowl of stock after a huge meal or of Beirut’s music – try and play A Sunday Smile or Postcards from Italy while flipping through them and prove me wrong. You can only imagine the level of well-being you could reach combining the three of them.
Because in the end it doesn’t matter how much you worry, cry or despair, the swing on Cervia’s boardwalk will always be there, as much as the family portrayed from behind in Il Castello di Rivoli: overlooking the handrail since forever and for good.
text and illustrations by Alice Spadaro