GIOVANNI ZAFFAGNINI
About me

About me

The first systematic approach to my work begins in the 70’s, along with the photo-ethnographical researches carried out on the field together with Giuseppe Bellosi, driven by personal interests without any commission.

It has been both an unforgettable and a formative experience; frequently the interviews showed us common people capable of the finest observations.

In 1979 we have published “Romagna mia”, a research on the mystification of folklore in Romagna, that is sometimes frowned upon.

In the late 80’s, some work commitments of Bellosi and my aversion to a nostalgic sense of the past stopped our research, after more than twenty years of intense activity.

The photo-ethnographical section of my archive consists on about 12000 pictures on different aspects of the folkloric culture of Romagna.

Later I showed an interest in the contemporary photographic language, also seeing some of the most valuable photographers of the time without, however, considering me as the apprentice of anyone in particular; I have always looked at those I occurred to meet, even those I disliked, as they made me clearer what I would have rather not do.

I spent a fortune on buying photography books that I gave up lending.

I can therefore affirm of being the apprentice of several dozen of unintentional mentors.

I think that photography is an excellent exercise to learn to see.

John Szarkowski rightly said that it is a way of describing “how things appear”: the positive ambiguity that goes with it, encourages to explore, to read between the lines, to ask oneself questions, therefore it requires a credibility/reliability without manipulation.

There is nothing more ambiguous than a picture resembling reality.

I prefer to realize my projects using what I see, without stretched predisposed set or special effects.

The challenge is to always try to make interesting what apparently is not; to achieve this, we need to adopt the slow gaze of those who walk unhurriedly (Robert Walser, Peter Handke, Dino Campana), quite different from what we can watch in the rush from the window of our cars, which has become our primary observation point.

I’m not attracted by events, I work when the game has stopped, safe from the emotions of the moment.

I’m constantly guided by a restless curiosity, without ignoring a formal and organizational coherence; that explains why I always have to put myself out there, following unusual – sometimes insidious but surely challenging – paths.

I am not afraid of failure, even without achieving the goals, I collect the experiences along the way.

To propose alternatives is not a provocation, but my idea of research.

I want to have the illusion of acting freely, aware of following an utopia.

I have published about fifteen monographs; some stoically resist to a fierce self-criticism.

I devoted my time to exhibiting artworks of other photographers: some were young and beginners, and have then reached important goals.

I love to interact with authors who show interest in other forms of expression such as literature.

I hereby reveal my choices, far from any certainty or dogma.

Different sensitivities and techniques lead to different results: where there is no diversity, boredom flourishes.