Gerardo Tommasiello

Gerardo Tommasiello

Never home...

by Gerardo Tommasiello (Italy)

Never home…”and the mother said, you are the absent. Even for us, your parents, when you are in front of us, it’s difficult to believe that you are real. You are here, but not really. Your being absent, sets us apart.” (free translation from the italian version of Absence by Peter Handke)

Portfolio from the Documentaire workshop with Patrick Zachmann, June 2012.

Written review by

Photo director of DU magazin, Switzerland   
For this review I am looking at the photographic results produced by Gerado Tommasiello, a young and not yet professionally working italian photographer living in Paris. The images are not the result from the 2-day Eyes in progress workshop on led in Paris by Patrick Zachmann at the end of June 2012, but stem from an earlier project that he undertook.

Going through the eleven square formatted color photographs of Tommasiello one is immediately struck by the main trophes and themes that create this series: reflections, the image in the image and the nature of the relation between women and men. At least one of these compositional tools appears in almost every picture. The series starts off with the dreamlike presence of the ruin of a house, something has been left behind here: memories and melancholia. This is followed up by details of two interior rooms. The first could be seen as representing the human relational aspects, a hand touching the table from his past for the first time in years, and the other one showing the family-treasure-trove cupboard complete with the family photo-shrine of three children grouped together on the wall, another reminder of things and times left behind and almost forgotten. But not quite that is why the photographer has returned.

If so far this to me all gives the impression of a return to the parental space and its mental components, this is then contradicted or less dramatically expressed just followed with the following seven images. These produce a loose visual narrative of love, relationship and of course reflections. In three of the images we see the persona of the photographer himself interchanged with representations and reflections of a number of different female characters. Within this series as whole we move with the photographer from darkness into the light, from the outside moving inside, only to end up outside again but as a changed person. So there is a kind of a carthasis going on here, the photographer as the visual alchemist able to change his inside through observing and working with the surfaces of the world. The photos presented here provide the viewer with an abstract narrative and I am sure another person would see another narrative thread running through this.

What is clear to me though is that although not perfectly coherent in a technical and compositional sense, the photographer here was able to work from a real felt passion and emotional base for this series. And that is to me the most important and valuable aspect when starting out in photography, to find that aspect that enables unique access and expression in terms of visual narratives that go beyond the linear storylines, i.e. to sing your own song. This is an encouraging starting point to continue working from in my eyes. At the end here is the quote from a Peter Handke book that inspired the photographer: Never home ...and the mother said, you are the absent. Even for us, your parents, when you are in front of us, it's difficult to believe that you are real. You are here, but not really. Your being absent, sets us apart (free translation from the italian version of The absene by Peter Handke)

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