What is a border? A limit, a beginning, but also an end. A constantly moving (in)visible line that demarcates a “this way”, which we know well, and a “that way”, which is other than us and doesn’t belong to us. Characterizing this term has always been its changeable nature. This is how, over time, it has extended to many fields of human experience, changing form and substance. Just think how, each time the border concept has crossed spheres of creativity, it has achieved ever different shades of meaning. An evolution that in some ways would seem to be similar to that of mankind, and perhaps the reason is because it ideally represents that window through which we can observe our actions, that window that offers us the opportunity to get to know ourselves better. Consequently, every time we talk about it, we are talking about ourselves. Here, the shots of Viktoria Andreeva, Loc Boyle, Alessio Bucciero, Sara Camporesi and Gaia Caramellino investigate the elusive nature of the boundary concept from different perspectives.
The Bulgarian photographer Viktoria Andreeva explores in her series Relay the most primordial of boundaries, that of our skin. The project delves into the complex relationship between individuals, exploring themes such as identity, human duality and metamorphosis. Within each composition, the absolute protagonist is the body, which becomes the instrument to give life to a series of contradictions. In her photographs, the subjects can appear close and intimate and at the same time shy and distant. This is because Andreeva intentionally depersonalizes them, capturing their curves in an abstract and surreal way and hiding and revealing parts of their bodies each time. By distorting the figures, the photographer aims to cross the boundary between reality and illusion and, in doing so, makes us realize how this concept depends entirely on our perception and is therefore subjective and undefined, hence abstract.
The distortion of perception adopted by Andreeva returns in Loc Boyle‘s photography. In this case, the Australian photographer imagines new forms of the body and experiments with a different kind of boundary: the ability of a man to “be art”, framing bodies as if they were monolithic sculptures. They are covered in paint, trapped in lycra, stretched and sometimes even folded in on themselves; all the while holding abstract, dramatic or simply bizarre poses. The result is images full of contrasts: powerful, delicate, still, moving, abstract, human. Images that, at the same time, are able to intrigue and confuse the observer, who, stunned, asks himself “Is this a work of art, a sculpture or the essence of something as yet unknown?”.
For Alessio Bucciero, the border should not be understood as a synonym for separation, “For me it means getting closer to something”, says the Italian photographer. This is evident from the first glance in the photo of the two lovers caught in an embrace, which Bucciero makes appear as if they were two parts of a single identity. Here, that threshold that distinguishes – as was said at the beginning of this text – a “this way” and a “that way” is no longer posed as a line of inclusion/exclusion, but becomes increasingly rarefied until it disappears, creating something that has never existed and that must be explored. And so, unintentionally, we forget that ancestral need to feel protected within a delimited space, overcoming the more traditional definition of a border once and for all.
While Andreeva, Boyle and Bucciero investigate the concept of boundary in the body dimension exclusively, Sara Camporesi‘s research focuses on the definition of “presence” that the body occupies in its surroundings. So what the Italian photographer examines is the space that is created between the body and architecture, between fullness and emptiness. “The moment in which everything is still suspended, in which we are and are not, in which we hold something elusive, something that precedes us and without which nothing could begin,” says Camporesi. In the shot taken in the Metaphysical City of Tresigallo, in the plain of Ferrara, we see that border become the beginning of a shared journey to discover a new and unimaginable elsewhere. An elsewhere in which to immerse ourselves and be amazed by what it is able to reveal: something of us that we didn’t know existed, that helps us (re)know or rediscover.
Different, but in some ways similar to Camporesi’s, is the border understood by Gaia Caramellino. In her photographs, this concept suddenly takes shape, becoming that place where you can find yourself again and again. Therefore, it is not an unknown space, but one of which one has experience. A cradle or rather “a safe place, crystallized in time, in which one can be weak, open to blows, to falls. A kind of waiting room aimed at nowhere, a no-man’s land where you arbitrate on an equal footing with your own history”, says the photographer. In front of her shots, the observer therefore finds himself staring at a boundary that does not belong to him.
In the research of the five photographers examined, we have realized that the concept of a boundary is subjective and abstract. However much we try to delimit its perimeter, the result will never be definitive because it is nothing more than an idea that does not exist. An idea that we have constructed, with the sole purpose of narrating it.