Wild Landscapes

Roberta Valtorta

A lake with two faces

ITALIAN

Luca Campigotto writes about photography: “Its most authentic, noblest magic remains that of giving human beings the gift of illusion. By confusing the viewer’s present with the past where what is viewed is held hostage. That sliver of eternity that belongs to us, and that we wish to see again”.
The presence of history in the landscape - or rather the presence of the thought of history in the landscape – is what Campigotto seeks in his locations: their monumental (in the etymological sense, in aesthetic and even moral terms) and ancient aspects, and therefore what the passage of time has deposited onto the surface of the world. Also what we expect shall survive, so to speak, and shall epically resist the ravages of time.
A powerful, clear construction defines the layout of his photographs that can be designated using one word better than others: scenarios. A clear-cut, unhesitant black & white reinforces the sense of representation in terms of view, and recalls the photographic heroism of O’Sullivan, Jackson, Watkins, or the desire to breathe found in Friedrich’s paintings.
In these works dedicated to Lake Garda, B&W has been joined, by a very interesting and delicate integration process, in colour electronically almost completely leeched of colour, that denies itself and severely returns to black & white, as when the sun sets, daylight recedes and gives way to night and the world is drained of its colours to become pure chiaroscuro, making colour nothing but a memory. Indeed Campigotto for many years now has been working with nighttime photography, the photograph of darkness and of the world that becomes B&W (more black than white), and loses colour.
Here, on the lake, an ancient and primitive location, the night plays a very important symbolical role: it fundamentalises the outline of things, eliminates “superfluous” elements and highlights the landscape’s skeleton: the imposing mountain, the horizon, the structure of the tree, the main forms of dialogue between land and water, as in an ancient etching, alternatively like the net contrasts originating on the computer screen when an image is being processed. In the large scenarios, the wing is the mountain, a dark triangle that wedges itself into the water, a rocky vertigo, a back-lit profile, a materic surface that merges with the dimness of the sky. The land is black, the towns become flashes in the darkness, the house shines in the very ancient and primordial darkness of the history of this austere landscape.
Campigotto works in the vertical and in the horizontal, not intended as easy formal elements but rather as powerful symbols of life and death, of day and night, of male and female even. Melancholy for the landscape of the past, for the animals that roamed it ages ago, slow and romantic thought of the landscape as it is today, feeling of solitude in the person who experiences it through photography: this is Lake Garda (a flooded piece of world that from light becomes dark) for this Venetian photographer who loves history, travel and the grandiosity of landscapes.

 

from the exhibition catalogue Sguardi gardesani, 2004

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