“Okja” is a 2017 film directed by Bong Joon-ho. Although it did not rake in awards like the subsequent “Parasite“, “Okja” ranks among the South Korean director’s best works and features an ensemble cast that includes Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, Lily Collins, Giancarlo Esposito, and Jake Gyllenhaal.
The film tells the story of a young girl who for most of her life has raised a genetically modified “super pig,” building a bond of mutual affection with him. But their lives are set to change drastically as the industry that actually created the animal must take it back to begin the slaughtering process. This is an exposing film against the mistreatment of animals within the meat industry that manages to deal with the topic by focusing on empathy and friendship. For this very reason in 2019 it was named one of the most influential films of the decade by the New York Times.
In “Okja,” the state of mind of the protagonist and her animal are reflected in the colors of the sets and the choices related to the cinematography, curated by Darius Khondji (Seven, Midnight in Paris, Uncut Gems), which manage to completely capture the viewer.
We intercept Enrico Costantini in one of the few breaks between trips, when the photographer, a “nomad” as he calls himself, recharges his batteries before returning to observe the world from his point of view, which like photography is truth and fiction. Travel and photography for EnricoCostantini are tools through which we can be part of something that does not belong to us but that we can make our own for an instant. Curious to understand how his relationship with the camera comes about and to discover some secrets with respect to his many travels over the years, Collater.al had a chat with Enrico.
How did you get into photography? Actually it was accidental! I went to an art school in Venice and then continued my studies in Rome where I majored in interior design. I got into the world of fashion and then from there into photography. I bought my first SLR camera when I was 20 years old and started experimenting. I have always had a strong connection with the value of “memory,” and from there perhaps comes my collecting nature. Sometimes one takes photographs out of fear of forgetting or fear of being forgotten. Now I experience photography as a chance to tell without having to use too many words, sometimes through a photo one can steal a moment of someone else’s life and make it one’s own, leaving instead something of our own, of one’s own experience.
With your photographs you take us to faraway places like Socotra, Cuba, Oman, the Philippines and many others. What stories are you looking for? What stories do you want to tell? Before embarking on a new journey, you never really know what’s coming. I like to reach remote and unspoiled destinations. Perhaps what I really go in search of is authenticity. Similarly, I love architecture and design, so any destination that includes at least one of these components becomes a source of stimulation and research for me.
It goes without saying that while traveling you have very different equipment at your disposal from what that a studio photographer has. What, in your opinion, is the equipment needed for this type of photography? Personally, as a photographer, I use only natural light. I love natural light and capturing its many and varied nuances. Each moment is never similar to its previous one. That said, I usually travel rather lightly if you can call it that. However, I like to carry several cameras with me. I would say that in this case there is no real need but certainly do not underestimate to equip yourself with multiple batteries and sufficient memory, admittedly in certain travel conditions it helps a lot to save precious time.
Is there a shot you are particularly fond of? Tell us about it. I don’t think there is one particular shot that I am fond of. Probably in general to all the shots related to my first reportage trip to Asia. A trip that lasted 4 months from New Delhi to Hong Kong passing 7 states, over 10,000 km on the road. It was my first overseas trip, I was 23 years old, and it was my first real experience where I found myself reporting on the people the places the situations I encountered on my way. It gave me a lot. These are shots that although very simple and of not so good technical achievement, every time I see them again, they arouse something very deep in me.
The female nude body in the photographic shots of AlinaGross becomes an element far from any erotic representation, or rather the language of photography facilitate the attempt to evoke the ambivalences of sexuality and gender. The Ukrainian photographer and now based in Germany brings to mind erotic elements through the associations of natural shapes and elements, combining them to create an imperfect beauty, the “Beauty of Imperfection” that is also the title of her latest artbook as well as the project the artist has been pursuing for the past four years. Alina Gross does not show a univocal beauty – and figure of women – to be told only through traditional canons of beauty, but expands the meaning of forms, thanks also to a pictorial rendering of bodies, aided by the use of color that often sprinkles the skin. The disturbing effect of viewing naked parts is not masked, Gross however invites the viewer to review the mental process of analyzing reality and its definition, which leads to breaking down dizzying barriers.
Don’t Worry Darling is one of those cases where one watches the film more out of curiosity than healthy interest. The film, which arrived in theaters last Sept. 22 and was presented at the Venice Film Festival last Sept. 5, began to be talked about long before the trailer, teaser and first photos from the set.
In fact, the controversies began right at the beginning of filming, when Olivia Wilde, who signs off as director, fired Shia LaBeouf, justifying this decision to the actor’s method of working, which according to Wilde did not fit her modus operandi. Olivia Wilde’s problems also continued with the leading lady, Florence Pugh, with whom she seems to have had several tensions (never publicly confirmed). Rounding out this complicated production phase came the director’s choice to replace LaBeouf with then-partner Harry Styles.
Inevitably, all these events also took their toll on the promotion phase, which, however, shifted the focus from the actual film to pure gossip.
A shame? Perhaps not.
Alice and Jack Chambers are a happily married couple living in Victory, an experimental 1950s community where the men spend all day at work, while the women take care of the house, and then spend their free time with their neighbors. Something suddenly changes, however, and Alice begins to feel constrained in that life, with an increasing desire to discover what lies beyond the city limits. This is the plot, which in itself also hides something potentially interesting, unfortunately it is the development that is lacking. It’s like when teachers in school used to say “he has potential but he doesn’t apply himself.”
Of all that Don’t Worry Darling puts on the table-which seems more like a need for redemption on Wilde’s part-something is saved and it is the reason why the film lets you watch it to the end: the aesthetics.
In fact, the director used the work of Matthew Libatique, an American cinematographer and regular collaborator of Darren Aronofsky, to take care of the photography. In nearly three decades of work, Libatique has handled the cinematography for such films as Requiem for a Dream and The Black Swan, experience that led him to be prepared for the eerie reality brought to the big screen in Don’t Worry Darling. It is immediately noticeable how the warm light that illuminates the entire town becomes cold and gloomy when Alice is alone with herself, and becomes colder and colder as time passes. The use of light, then, goes hand in hand with the colors of the places: for example, the bathroom tiles are green, reminiscent of hospital uniforms.
For this reason, it was particularly difficult to select only 10 frames from the film, which perhaps focused heavily on aesthetics and too little on content.
Beginning in 2018, German photographerTomHegen traveled between Australia, Senegal, France, and Spain, observing from above the landscape and morphology of these territories, particularly the salt marshes, fascinating places that appear like precious mosaics from the sky. The geometries and network of paths makes these landscapes almost abstract when observed from above, and the painterly hues that push the colors toward yellow, blue and the typical pink look like palettes of some watercolorist with a delicate style. The series of photographs tells a very peculiar element of the landscape, in which nature, in all its barrenness, manages to show energy and creativity, which Hegen succeeds in highlighting by giving us an unusual and unique point of view.