From Ruhr to Angola, Foto / Industria as a way to love Bologna even more

The first gloomy days of real autumn are the perfect moment to visit an exhibition, and if you choose Foto / Industria you’ll actually visit 11 of them, all for free. This yearly celebration of work and the industrial world as interpreted by the lens is always an occasion not only to appreciate world-renewed masters of photography and discover new artists, but also a great excuse to walk around town and appreciate its many historical palazzos as well as some hidden venues. Each of the 11 exhibitions is located on a specific location, all of them within the walls and at walkable distance from each other, with the exception of Anthropocene, that is hosted by MAST Museum (incidentally, if you still haven’t visited MAST it’s time to do it). This year’s edition of Foto / Industria, curated by Francesco Zanot, has the theme of “constructing” as the fil rouge that links together the different exhibitions. Here’s some notes on each one of them.

Prospettive Industriali by Luigi Ghirri (Palazzo Bentivoglio)

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A real protagonist of the history of world photography, Ghirri also worked on commission for some commercial brands, such as the four – Ferrari, Marazzi, Bulgari and Costa Corciere – featured on this selection of photos dating from the mid Eighties to the early Nineties, where his sober, anti-celebratory style is recognizable in spite of the promotional aim.

Paesaggi della Ruhr by Albert Renger-Patzsch (Pinacoteca Nazionale)

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One of the main representatives of the New Objectivity, Renger-Patzsch spent almost a decade in the german region of Ruhr, where a formely rural landscape became the heart of carbon and iron and steel industry. A remarkable collection of about 70 photos taken between the Twenties and Thirties and documenting the archetype of modern industry, the buildings and constructions that were made in the mid XIX Century.

Tires/Viscose by André Kertész (Casa Saraceni)

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Also Kertész, one of the notable names of street photography, worked on commission. In this exhibition, composed of vintage prints and photos taken one year before the end of World War Two, he captures the men and women working in two different companies, Ohio’s Firestone Tires and Pennsylvania’s American Viscose Corporation.

Porto di Genova by Lisetta Carmi (Santa Maria della Vita)

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Now 95 years old, Lisetta Carmi realized some of her most important works – mostly reportages and social observations – during the Sixties. It is 1964 when she focues on two main subjects, Genoa’s harbour and iron&steel factory Italsider.

Prospetting Ocean by Armin Linke (Biblioteca Universitaria di Bologna)

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Not just photographs but also books and videos for this exhibition which requires you to actually sit down and study: locating it within the University Library was no coincidence. The main theme is the ocean, something that we cannot really see.

Arquivo Urbano by Délio Jasse (Fondazione del Monte)

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From the colonial architecture linked to a Portuguese architecture to the new roads built by the Chinese, this exhibition from Angolan photographer Délio Jasse is an exploration of Luanda, how it is growing, evolving and being reconstructed.

Olympia by David Claerbout (Spazio Carbonesi)

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No photos for David Claerbout’s exhibition but one very peculiar video. Continuously spinning around Berlin’s olympic stadium, or rather its digital rendering, this video installation  is located in a time-space dimention that is deprived of any human presence and surrendering to nature’s cycles. A software filled with information on Berlin’s weather and forecast takes care of “watering” and growing the plants that eventually will take over the space.

A certain collector B by Yosuke Bandai (Biblioteca della musica)


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Garbage: stones, wood fragments, plastic bits and even insects’ relics are the base of fragile sculptures that the Japanese multidisciplinary artist then scans and re-presents as photographic prints. The exhibition can also give you an excuse to visit the little-known and beautiful Museum of Music.

Spectral city by Stephanie Syiuco (MAMbo)

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Inspired by 1906 movie A trip down Market Street, that was released little before the earthquake and fire that destroyed most of the city, Filippino artist Syiuco travels through the same path as the Mile Brothers (authors of the the above-mentioned film) using Google Earth. The streets are solitary, as the software wants it, and a post-apocalypse aura is dominant.

H+ by Matthieu Gafsou (Palazzo Pepoli Campogrande)

Belgian photographer Gafsou’s photos focus on the idea of “transhumanism” and capture in the way in which technology impacts on the human while trying to improve one’s physical or mental performances. It is no coincidence that the ceiling of the Palazzo PEpoli’s room hosting the exhibition also displays a The Triumph of Hercules fresco.

Anthropocene by Edward Burtynsky, Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier (MAST)

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Last but not least, Anthropocene is the only exhibition of the list that was already on when Foto / Industria started and will continue after the festival end on November 24th. A multimedia project from Canadian artists Jennifer Baichwal, Edward Burtynsky and Nicholas de Pencier, the work hosted by beautiful museum MAST is a collection of massive, impressive photographs as well as augmented reality, cinema and scientific research that display in a terrifying and indisputable manner the consequences of human behaviour over nature. From the acidification of the oceans to the extinction of animals, if the word “anthropocene” is still up for debate, the current, tragical situation isn’t.


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