Protecting Our Heritage: “Passages” by Gatti

Photo's courtesy of Gatti and the Italian Cultural Institute

 

logo_eunic“Passages” by Massimiliano Gatti, produced by the Italian Embassy and the Italian Cultural Institute, launches Protecting Our Heritage; a series of programming dedicated towards preserving common heritage and spearheaded by the European Union National Institutes of Culture (EUNIC). “Passages” explores the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East by emphasizing what can be found on the surface level of these conflict zone landscapes , the paradoxical relationship amongst humanity and ruins and a meditation on the concept of time. The photo exhibit remains on display at the Italian embassy from Feb. 04th- March 15th 2016.

“Passages” with respect to its resounding commentary on the Middle East, additionally captures Gatti’s professional being. Any one of Gatti’s works exemplifies his simultaneous identities as an Italian photographer dedicated to his work and an archeological activist dedicated to the preservation of history. Gatti worked with the archaeological mission of the University of Udine in Qatna, Syria from 2008-2011. From 2012 to 2015 Gatti worked with PARTeN as a photographer in the Kurdistan region’s Land of Nineveh in Iraq.

In superficie #5 All photos courtesy of Gatti and the Italian Cultural Institute
In superficie #5
All photos courtesy of Gatti and the Italian Cultural Institute

The Italian photographer’s exhibit emphasizes artifacts and architecture, digging away at our ill-conceived notions that anything of historic significance today has been found and preserved. In Superficie, Rovine and Tell Gomel, Jerwan, the three parts of the exhibit make clear that is not the case. In Superficie, a series of works that captures artifacts Gatti found on the surface of the archaeological landscape of the land of Nineveh and distills them into a figurative void against a white backdrop.

In superficie #5 All photos courtesy of Gatti and the Italian Cultural Institute
In superficie #5
All photos courtesy of Gatti and the Italian Cultural Institute

Individually, it is as though the artifacts of the past are preserved in an amber of white light that the audience may access and contemplate. Take notice that though these works may be pristinely captured they are not entirely whole, they are eroded by time and humanity. Taken collectively, these works can be read as a family quilt for humanity in the region showcasing what was, clay pots, vases and bowl, to what is, modern era bullet casings, and the lingering question of what will be.

Rovine Palmira #8 All photos courtesy of Gatti and the Italian Cultural Institute
Rovine Palmira #8
All photos courtesy of Gatti and the Italian Cultural Institute

Gatti comments that Rovine is “totally devoid [of] human presence, but on the other hand it is paradoxically invaded[.]” The work emphasizes the ruins in such a manner where the ruins themselves, typically captured as part of an idyllic backdrop inseparable from the natural landscape of travel brochures, come to the forefront of the audience’s attention. Mankind created these edifices and now mankind’s neglect for them leaves them chipped, crumbling and decayed. Time is evidently caught red handed as the main culprit for the demise of these ruins, but Gatti makes the viewer wonder, is humanity not just as culpable if it does nothing to stop the hands of time?


Tell Gomel
and Jerwan are the product of Gatti’s personal reflection on the concept of time. These works could arguably be considered 3-D photographs, despite truly being time lapse videos the stillness of them give them the semblance of photographs given the third dimension that is time. Tell Gomel was shot in the same name site and is located along the river Gomel. The works exhibited in “Passages” make a strong first entry towards Protecting Our Heritage and fulfill the unifying quote of the series by Latin playwright Terence.“I am a human, and nothing of that which is human is alien to me.” Gatti’s audience can easily appreciate the significance of “Passages” as human beings with a stake in protecting all heritage, for we are all human.

By Denis Sgouros

Passages remain on display at the Embassy until March 15, 2016. To view please request an appointment at iicwashington@esteri.it between Monday and Friday, 9:30AM to 4:30PM.


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