Since the begininning and again

Augusto Pieroni


“The Beauty found around is some kind of natural aroma, nothing more than a biochemical substitute useful for improving the reaction of specific audiences to a given product.”

I found it in a trunk in the cellar. That’s not true: I have a hard disk like anyone else. There is where my unpublished articles, the never finalized exhibitions texts, books or notes that were never published are stored. There is nothing poetic about these pieces – actually, I find them I little bit annoying – but that is my “discarded” material, whether I like it or not. Making use of the repertoire is becoming well-approved, so I can only try to ignore the original meaning of the material by rethinking the fragments in the new context in which I place them. I don’t know if it works, but this is the only way I can contribute to this remarkable e-zine without ranting about post-photography, this photographic era about which many would like to be able to say: “I was in it since Lorem ipsum!”.

Evidence: Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel

… The Bauty found around is some kind of natural aroma, nothing more than a biochemical substitute useful for improving the reaction of specific audiences to a given product. 



… But beware, people: art is good for you and your children because it gives a formidable ability to your vision, that is to give to the social distortion of your sight the ability to see, not things, but ideas and – extraordinary fact—the secret connections between them.



… I have always been attracted to the work of Mandel & Sultan’s “Evidence” as it perfectly exemplifies how complex it is to deduce the meaning of a photograph exclusively from the image. In fact, it takes a thick contextual texture to direct a photo on the tracks of a specific (perhaps even intentional) interpretation. Joan Fontcuberta is also thoroughly investigating these matters by exploiting in particular the role of agents of truth such as science and information.



… Art has resolved to behave like a retro-virus, a virus-shifter: a living being that infects its era and learns the rules for defending itself, disguising itself and fighting back from its enemies. It has learned to disappear from where you expected it to be, and to reappear in the stupidest of places, still unexpected and effective, in a psycho-activating way, sometimes even a devastating one.



… More than thirty years before Banksy, Burgin uses the city walls as an exhibition space. The most interesting thing about “Possession” is the ambiguous understanding of the poster, whether viewed from a distance or up close. For the gaze of a bourgeois, sexist and reactionary passer-by, the work is openly alluring; but on a closer look it is crystal clear that the position taken is one of a completely different brand. The work has the same assertiveness that we would expect from an essay by John Berger or John Tagg.

… At the time in which this book was conceived, and largely made, the use of computers was not included. On the other hand, I do not think the author would have gladly made use of them, considering its almost animist relationship with new technologies: a relationship that evokes the ruskinian recollections from Arts & Crafts. Today, however, with electronic media it has been possible to reconstruct the elegant and immense unity of the authorial project, restoring it, rearranging the limbs of a text that is visual and material with care and respect: as to never forget it.


… The West tare, whose mindset derives from the Greek-Roman one, is the aspiration to immortality and not to perpetuity. As the aspiration to build a monument more durable than bronze, and not to design an extraordinary artefact conceived as a continuous program: a tradition at the inaugural stage.


… The leaden predictability and desperation of the Arbus is the strongest but also the most cliché… but the sequential staging is already a form of interpretation, which remains unexplained.


… In what sense can you say: “It’s the true image of my sister” if you can’t understand if she is tall or short, or that she is a genius?

… What do you want to tell me with your photo? That Arecibo is a nice place? That there is a fascinating lighthouse? Then show me Arecibo; show me the lighthouse. There is no trace of it here.

… Do you want to tell me what happened to you? But how can it interest me if I don’t know you? You see, the biggest limitation of the intimate diary is that it often remains private even when it is made public. 

… The photos are right in themselves. Whether reality fits or not should be a problem only for the author in view of their potential use. The viewer may well believe that he can trace them back to Reality. What it will find instead will not be the unconscious of the device, nor the author’s memories, but always and his own Desire only. 

… Unless than in unlikely theories on photographic metempsychosis, there is no one who is the new “no one else”. To me, the world of photography represents a wonderland, ruled by a hardened realist (but with a drug addict Minister of the Interior and a rotten civil service one).

“Postmodern for some has properly represented the collapse of the twentieth century modernity systems. You know, right?”

… A lamp is a piece of furniture. More deeply, it is an object produced by an industry according to a design, production and distribution plan. More deeply, it is warmth, a color, a tactility. More deeply, it is a quality of your living place. More deeply, it’s yourself. More deeply, it is nothing worthwhile.

… Postmodern for some has properly represented the collapse of the twentieth century modernity systems. You know, right? Not so much for Alessandro Mendini’s bookcases or Philippe Stark’s citrus juicers, Culture Club’s music and Laurie Anderson’s shows, Cindy Sherman’s photos or Enzo Cucchi’s paintings. I’m actually speaking of the Postmodern theories: Baudrillard’s, Lyotard’s or Foucault’s, Jameson’s, Harvey’s and Krauss’, Vattimo’s, Perniola’s or Sloterdijk’s. … More than a collapse, I would rather speak of “eclipse”.

… I think both the immanentisms-orthodox-reportagists-analogue-blackandwhitist and the absurdisms-digital-simulacristi-falsificationists-baudrillard-fontcubert have their own reason and that those are right as rain; the problem is that they both lean too far in the two opposite directions.

… I don’t grant beforehand to the photo-chemist any preference for birthright or for nobility of blood. Nor I’ve a fondness for the digital for reasons of freshness, urgency or inevitability. I’m not even among those who, looking at a particularly photogenic scene, exclaim: “hey,the black and white is to die for!” as if they were suggesting something obvious and of excellent taste, like an iced dry white wine to pair a grilled lobster. 

… Ten years later, at the age of 70, friends discuss where to have their lunch and the choice falls again on Ocean View, this time because the restaurant is wheelchair accessible and has an elevator. Ten years later, at the age of 80, friends have to choose where to meet for lunch. They unanimously decide to be at the Ocean View Restaurant: because they have never been there before. 

… Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit.

Random stories from, in chronological order: Adamo allo specchio, 2003 / Bud, 2005 / I confini del digitale, 2007 / Eclissi del postmoderno, 2009 / Intervista, 2009 / Desiderio, 2010 / Le due verità, 2011 / Arbus allo Jeu de Paume, 2012 / Icona o simulacro, 2012 / La bicicletta, 2012 / Lorem ipsum, 2012 / Barzelletta trascritta, 2013 / Arecibo, 2014 / Statement, 2017

Augusto Pieroni

Historian and critic of contemporary arts, curator and essayist