«A risky project, a bit like writing,» Catanian photographer Salvo Sibilla explains when talking to us about his street photography project entitled Sani e Salvi. It is a project that was not born to be so. A collection of private amateur shots, taken with an iPhone, that take on a public dimension. It all begins in 2020 when Salvo starts shooting on the street, partly to seek company in a new city-which in the case of Milan is capable of making you feel very lonely, and partly to capture the extravagance around him that he was not used to. In the summer of 2022 he decided to go public and share part of his smartphone gallery. Salvo encapsulates in one project his amateur shots “full of lights, faces and lives,” as his collaborator and friend Loris Di Bella puts it. Stripped of their intimate dimension, the “anti-ethical” photographs – using Salvo’s words – come to life by dialoguing with each other and realizing the presence of a great common denominator: immediacy layered with extravagance.
Sani e Salvi does not stay only in Milan. He travels different streets and different cities, from Milan to Amsterdam, from Rotterdam to Sestri Levante, from Finale Ligure to Pedara, and finally from Bologna to Catania, Salvo Sibilla’s hometown. Salvo’s favorite subjects are elderly people, he himself tells us the reason for this choice. «The first reason, the most human one, is because they remind me of my grandparents, the people I miss the most since I moved to Milan. I am a very romantic person, so I look for this aspect in my shots as well. In older people I find the same pure and kind soul of my grandparents».
This project becomes for Salvo Sibilla a kind of adaptation therapy in a new city. Coming from Catania and landing in Milan, the cultural differences are many. «I liked walking in the street and observing everything around me. Coming from a small town like Catania, unfortunately you are born with stereotypes and mental limitations. When I arrived in Milan, these visual limits began to fall away, all those aspects that I initially judged as extravagances became normality today». The photographs thus become a way of relating to the new everyday life and, at the same time, of discovering a new city. In this sense, it is interesting to emphasize Salvo Sibilla’s photographic approach, which he himself describes as “somewhat anti-ethical.” «My technique is to act like a tourist. I stop by pretending to look for a street and take the photograph of the person, very closely,» he explains, «Very often older people do not notice it, as well as my grandparents although they, with time, have learned to recognize my methodology and now they are very happy when I take them, they feel a bit like the protagonists».
«Sani e Salvi can be said to have been born recently and still has everything to discover and to have come to the end, gaining wisdom,» we read again in Loris Di Bella’s text. Therefore, the project does not end here; on the contrary, it becomes for Salvo Sibilla a starting point that has taught him «to never give up,» as Salvo confesses to us, who closes the interview by quoting the phrase of a friend of his: “keep doing what you do regardless of everything and everyone.”
Courtesy Salvo Sibilla