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Porti di Mare

Porti di Mare, 1984-1988

Gabriele Basilico
  • Artist (1944 - 2013)

An architect by training, the photographer Gabriele Basilico captures the transformation of urban and industrial landscapes: suburbs, border zones, and city outskirts are all areas where contradictions are at their most evident. His photographic activity, which he embarked on in 1973, can be situated in the artistic, theoretical and political context of Italy in the 1970s. After his first major show in 1983, in Milan (Milano, ritratti di fabbriche), he was the only Italian to take part, in1984, in the programme of the DATAR (Delegation for the Development of the Territory and for Regional Action), dealing with the state of landscapes, and living and work-places in France in the 1980s. What Basilico represents in these black and white views of coastal towns in the Nord Pas-de-Calais region is not a simple description of places. In particular, he analyzes the relation between the maritime space and port activities with an objective and distant eye. The series Porti di Mare, started in 1982, focusing on seven European ports, expresses that impression of paradoxical silence and slowness, heightened by the visual organization of lines where horizontals and verticals are predominant. His work about Beirut, devastated by war (1991), Berlin (2000) and Valencia (2000), about abandoned areas in the Emilia-Romagna Region (2001), about Monte Carlo (2007) and Moscow, where he photographed the transformation occurring over some fifteen years, etc., each one of these series seeks to translate the complexity of an urban reality into ongoing transformation. “I see the city like a large body in transformation and I strive to grasp the signs, like a doctor investigating the changes of the human body”, the artist explains. This quest was asserted in the 2003 series on Cherbourg and Beirut, where the artist catches the changes of landscapes already occurring some years previously.

Gabriele Basilico obtained a degree in architecture from the Polytechnic School in Milan in 1973 and, that same year, he embarked on his career as a professional photographer. In 1990, he won the Grand Prix du Mois de la Photo in Paris for his photographic research into sea ports, and he was awarded the first prize for contemporary architectural photography, voted by the international jury at the 6th Venice Biennale. He has had several retrospective shows in various parts of the world.

Nadine Labedade