The photographic universe of Antonio Biasiucci (Dragoni, Caserta, 1961) represents a microcosm of events in which the skillful use of black and white, at times sfumato and in certain passages evanescent, at other times more markedly chiaroscuro, discloses a mobile and jagged universe that seems to seek to connect up with an ahistorical time suspended in space. In this sense, Biasiucci’s lens seems to investigate an arcane and mysterious universe, to define images that reference individual and collective memory.
His home town, Dragoni, is featured in his first photographic series, focused on a farming and peasant universe (Dove non è mai sera, “Where Evening Never Falls”). After moving to Naples (1980), Biasiucci began to investigate outer city spaces. Since 1984 he has collaborated with the Vesuvius Observatory, engaging in an extensive photographic campaign focused on active volcanoes in Italy, culminating in the Magma series (1998). In 1987 he met the actor and theater director Antonio Neiwiller, leading to an important collaborative practice, interrupted only in 1993 by Neiwiller’s death. “I learned to do photography in the theater,” says Biasiucci. “I always considered the subject as fundamental in the construction of my work. My dream is to rewrite the history of men through photography. Every kind of work, like a book in a library, is one piece added to the construction of this utopia. Magma is a work about the mystery of creation, Dei pani, dei volti (“Of Bread, Of Faces”) about life which comprises death, Vapori (“Vapors”) about rite and myth, Vacche (“Cows”) is a study of the Great Mother, Res about catastrophe.”
Biasiucci’s poetic therefore focuses on the process inherent in the medium itself (even personally following the development of his shots in the darkroom); it is the expression of “pure” photography, embodied in suspended, almost metaphysical atmospheres, which acquire the consistency of memory. Biasiucci develops a poetic based on the “fragment,” radical in its simplicity of expression, embodied in veritable visual archetypes, both within and without the reality from which they originate. Biasiucci often seems to retrace the traditional techniques of intaglio printing, such as “black manner” engraving and etching.
Lastre (“Plates”, 1961-2013), in particular, recalls his discovery of photography directly after the “initiatory” exercise he worked on as a child in the studio of his father Alfredo, a ceremony photographer. The installation presents a series of plates, the only ones to survive from his father’s archive, which relate to a distant time, when the imperfections on photographs were corrected by hand and directly on the plates. Biasiucci appropriates them, retrieving them in their valence of installation: forming a display on a table, they are turned upside down and rest on a black surface. Biasiucci here recreates a “palimpsest of memory” that recalls the evanescence of photography, its Barthesian “it was.” A series of faces, which the passage of time has consigned to anonymity, emerge like ghosts from a distant past, like shadows, visible only when illuminated from above through certain angles that create mobile and fleeting perspectives. From the darkness emerge details, scattered fragments of identity, seemingly similar yet all different, silent guardians of obscure stories that find redemption from an oblivion dark as the depths from which they now emerge with the force of a Caravaggesque chiaroscuro, though fleetingly, lit by a flash of light, between realism and a symbolic valence. Biasiucci’s work is configured as a veritable archive of personal memories in miniature and as a declaration of his working method, a reflection on the relationship between photography and memory, intimacy and public dimension.
In the context of Per_forming a collection project, a second installation (Ex voto, 2006-2013) on the museum’s roof-terrace draws on this work, expanding it in an environmental dimension, suspended between inner and outer, micro and macro, its images varying with the incidence of the solar rays, appearing and disappearing in harmony with the atmospheric dynamics.