There are photographs that seem to have been taken in a distant future and others that, although taken today, have the bittersweet taste of distant memories. Marta Passalacqua‘s shots are just like that.
Born in 1987, Marta was born in Palermo, where she studied architecture and took up photography. It is her beloved city that comes alive in her work: black and white shots that take us through the streets and roads to discover glimpses and faces that hide stories that immediately catch our eye.
But Marta is not only this. During the first lockdown she also dedicated herself to more intimate photography, focusing on women, their femininity and their bodies.
A selection of shots by Marta Passalacqua will be on display for Ph.ocus – About Photography in the “Please, Take Care” section. We took the opportunity to ask her a few questions and let her tell us more in detail about some aspects of her work.
Don’t miss the interview below and to find out more, don’t forget to follow Marta on Instagram!
What is the first memory you have related to photography?
From a very young age, I spent hours leafing through photo albums: the drawer in the window of the studio was like a treasure chest. I remember rainy winter afternoons, sitting on the floor with these mostly yellow stacks around me: on one side the ones I had already ‘reviewed’, on the other the ones I still had to look at.
When I was young, my father had also tried his hand at photography, analogue of course, with a darkroom set up at home. I was astonished to admire my mother’s black and white portraits, the faces of the fishermen, the boats, the festivals, the plays. Everything was suspended, motionless, eternal.
When I was six and a half years old, during my brother’s baptism, celebrated in a small village church where we used to holiday in the summer, I took my first ‘official’ photos, and I still remember the emotion I felt.
What do you want to tell with your photos?
Over the years, photography has increasingly become a necessity for me.
I have always been a good observer and I felt the need to give back, in some way, my vision of the world, of what surrounds me, so, first and foremost, my shots speak of me, of reality through the filter of my perception.
My first love is undoubtedly Palermo, my city: with its streets, its faces, its customs, its thousands of small, magical, hidden worlds.
Each photographed subject is a universe in itself, with a story made up of fears, dreams, pain and desires. And this is perhaps the greatest challenge for me: to be able to capture and tell a fragment of that existence.
Your photographs are often in black and white. What makes you choose this style and what characteristics do you appreciate most?
To paraphrase a sentence I read some time ago, I think black and white speaks directly to the soul. For me it’s all a sentimental question, it’s the shot that asks me. It has a very strong evocative power and immediately refers to the inner self, an operation of subtraction that allows you to concentrate on the essential, eliminating the “distraction” that colour sometimes creates. The amazing thing is that our eye can still perceive the missing colour: blue eyes in black and white, for example, are equally intense and striking.
For Paratissima, you will be exhibiting in the “Please, Take Care” section. Tell us about the shots that will be featured.
I am intimately linked to the project I will be exhibiting at Paratissima. It is entitled “questo corpo” and it stems from my deep need to tell the female nude in a different way, eliminating the purely pornographic aspect with which it is often associated.
I think that the female point of view, that of a woman photographing a woman’s body, can highlight all the power, charm, eros, but also the fragility and delicacy that our exposed skin expresses. And it is precisely this intimate relationship between ourselves and our flesh that undoubtedly deserves consideration and attention: a “Please, take care” that has to do with the most intrinsic and at the same time material part of ourselves, “this body”.
Is there a shot of yours to which you are most attached? Tell us about it.
I am attached to so many of my shots, each one carries with it the moment, the place and even my mood at that moment.
One comes to mind, taken during the feast of St Joseph. In many towns in Sicily, large piles of wood are made and set on fire in the streets.
It’s an ancient tradition that endures in the most popular neighbourhoods. On this occasion, I went to the heart of the Kalsa, the old Arab citadel of Palermo.
I found myself in front of a veritable assembly line: the adults were making sure that the pile of furniture and planks held its height, while the children continued to collect various types of wood from who knows where, a veritable procession.
It was dark and the conditions for taking pictures were very poor, but I was hypnotized. I approached a small group of ‘little more than children’ who were devising other ways to find more objects to burn: I took the picture at the same time as, annoyed, they noticed me. The initial mistrust changed almost immediately into curiosity and happiness, and we became friends after a few moments!
But that shot, the first one, despite being a bit ‘dirty’ because of the low light, I find it beautiful and intense. The perfect example of my love for the street: that unrepeatable and ungovernable moment of reality that shows itself in its most powerful and unfiltered version.