C41 Questions On: Printed Narratives with Dario Salamone (NSFW)

Questions On is the video interview format created by C41. It consists of three simple questions addressed to our network of friends, partners and creative minds. 

This series will go through Printed Narratives, questioning the role of contemporary publishing in the digital era. This episode features Dario Salamone. 

Dario Salamone lives and works in Milan. He graduated in Philosophy at Sapienza University in Rome, and studied Music Composition and Piano at Santa Cecilia Conservatory. He investigates the expressive and mechanical possibilities of the human body, the relationship between nature and culture and the role of technology in today’s society. His work has been published in international magazines such as Vogue Italia, CR Fashion Book and Numéro Berlin and exhibited at Armani Silos and Triennale di Milano, among others. His previous book The Nature of Things 1. Notes, Leftovers, was published in April 2019.

Sara. Corpo e Mondo is the title of Dario Salamone‘s new book, a photographic series taken in Spring 2019 and portraying a young woman offering her fully naked body to the gaze of the camera, on a deserted beach. The title is a nod to the protagonist, Sara, as much as a reference to the project’s subject of investigation, namely the importance of the body, and its centrality in the shaping of human experiences. Across the book’s images, taken in just a few hours over a non-stop session, Sara opens to an effortless dialogue with the photographer. Intense and yet delicate, they become part of a continual aesthetic exploration, as much as a place for reflection upon the very concept of bodihood, its biological relevance, and its social and cultural implications.

As a way of expanding these fundamental themes, Salamone invited some guests to join the project and contribute to the book. Critic Riccardo Conti and philosopher Emanuele Coccia added new layers of interpretation to the series, engaging in a dense conversation around the role of nudity in the theories of the “gaze”, and tracing back its relevance across the history of image production, starting from the photographer’s choice to deconstruct the representation of femininity in western iconography.

Artists Valentina Cameranesi and Flaminia Veronesi “gifted” the photographer with two of their most emblematic representations of femininity (respectively Orca, a glass and ceramic sculpture reinterpreted by Salamone in the form of a 47 x 32 cm poster, and Tette Fotoniche XXL, lensed and printed on the book’s endpaper).

Who is Sara? Why did you want to dedicate this project to a single subject?

I met Sara through the Instagram Stories of a mutual friend, Alessandro, and I was very impressed by the spontaneity with which she interacted with the camera, despite being filmed in very intimate situations. I was curious to find out more about it, and I did so through photography, the instrument of investigation that is most dear to me at the moment. In fact, in addition to my curiosity about her, her physicality evoked studies and personal reflections on the theme of the body, a theme that was very much felt in the 20th century but, in my opinion, dealt with rather indirectly in current affairs. I would say that philosophical and biographical investigation has found common expression in the peculiarity of Sara’s body, to whom this book is dedicated.

The project deals with the themes of body and human experience, two contemporary and discussed topics. How do you think the perception of the body has changed nowadays? What is the message behind this project?

I think we live in a time in which there is an attempt to question the idea of the body inherited from history and there are urgent issues in Western societies that deserve to be explored concerning questions of the body. I am thinking, for example, of the question of gender identities, bioethical issues such as euthanasia, or the expansion of the neuroscientific approach in areas of knowledge. These are seemingly disconnected issues that, in reality, need clarification concerning the meaning we attach to the body. I think we need to deconstruct the idea of the body as it has been constituted in modernity, a vision for which the body is seen from a strictly organic point of view, with the risk of extreme simplification. I think that the body is a much more complex scenario, in which biology and culture merge and interact: my body is a scenario of impulses, but it is above all a representation of those urges. Specifically, it is clear that sexuality is an important driver of our lives, but we must not forget that this sexuality has been codified and normed, it has been culturally interpreted. Or, about the issue of euthanasia, what sense does it make to make an individual’s life coincide with his organic life, rather than with the profound experience of the world that his body can no longer have? In my opinion, these are all questions that deserve clarification and in-depth study, and this book, in its essentiality, is an opportunity to reopen these questions.

Publishing could be seen as an anachronistic practice. Why do you think it could still have a role in shaping contemporary visual culture? Is printing a way to return images to where they belong?

I think every project needs its own output and it would be naive to limit it to the book form or any other specific form. I can say, however, that I am very fond of the idea of building a publication because it is my way of punctuating projects and it allows me to look at images from a distance, to reflect on the work.  In general, I am very fascinated by the transition from pixel to print, both from a technical craftsmanship point of view and from an expressive point of view: printing a photo or an entire book, in my opinion, invites the viewer to deal with the image with a much more relaxed time than the time of a ‘scroll’ and personally it is a time that I try to give myself more and more often. I don’t think, however, that there is a specific place where an image belongs; I think rather that images belong to ideas, that they are one of the many possibilities that an idea has of manifesting itself and, rather than defending a specific place where an image belongs, I feel like defending a type of photography that, beyond the output, shows a vision of the world and is not just an aesthetic exercise.


Featuring: Dario Salamone

Curated by Alice De Santis
Editor: Alice De Santis

Time to read
6 min
Words by
Published on
10 September 2021
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