Early colour pioneer Luigi Ghirri (1942-1992) featured in a Source article was a description of Roma (1979) outlining how Ghirri displaces Rome’s Coliseum in favour of a banal hedge and a centrally positioned fashionable looking modern man. This image inspired my purchase of the second edition print of Kodachrome (1978) and I immediately loved the muted, faded colours and the deadpan compositions of Luigi Ghirri. I also felt a resonance with our current focus on the narrative and post-modern influences.
In Kodachrome images are presented on the pages as small picture postcards placed on large blank white spaces. I found Ghirri’s concept of space outside the frame extremely thought provoking, as he describes “the visible part of the cancellation and (how) it invites us to see the rest of the not presented reality.” (Ghirri, L. Kodachrome. 1978).
The image within is interpreted in relation to what is left obscured or outside of the frame. He describes this as the double aspect of representation and serves as a further example of how Ghirri forces the viewer to consider different ways of seeing and interpreting what is real. He did n’t believe in decisive moments as he felt that this created limitations in his quest to merely see clearly.
Luigi Ghirri uses the term Kodachrome in recognition of how the modern photograph has become a coded symbol in representation of and attempts to understand the total reality, the hieroglyphic whole. His adherence to semiotics is paramount in his use of the photograph blended with his own appreciations, “the approach, not direct as in reportage, is the result of a preferential approaching, mediate from the memory…..and that …..the elements composing the work are a large quantity of communication data and a large quantity of ambiguity.” Ghirri, L. Kodachrome (1978) (p7. introduction by Gardin, P).
The meaning of his work is ultimately to confirm, “the verification of how it is still possible to wish to face the way of knowledge, to make it possible at last to tell the real identity of man, of things, of life, from the image of man, of things, of life.” (Ghirri, L. Kodachrome, p12. (1978)
Ghirri chooses advertising cliques and man made/imposed things to pit their wits against nature and his interpretations of modern life are hidden just below the surface in his scenes of the ordinary everyday. The resultant style is similar to other early colour photographers of the post-modern 70s and 80s. Similar to Stephen Shore Ghirri mainly avoid the inclusion of people and effectively keeps the work balanced and serious, sidestepping the voyeuristic and, at times, reductive aspect of Martin Parr.
I like his simple and geometrical composition to create clean, aesthetically pleasing, subtle, intelligent frames with powerful underlying thoughts.
The mirror reflection above looks more like the view from a window and the two images of children having fun contrasts brilliantly with a utilitarian repetition. The end result is an ingenious composition, perfectly balanced calmly asking powerful questions.
I really enjoyed reviewing this photographer as his work bears many similarities to subjects and photographers that I have previously appreciated and I will continue to reflect on how Ghirri made his work.
Ghirri, L (2013) Kodachrome, second edition, MACK
Graham, C. (2015) Emptiness Against Emptiness Source (issue 84) Winter, 2015, p50-51.
Roma by Luigi Ghirri taken from:
http://theredlist.com/wiki-2-16-601-809-view-outstanding-profile-ghirri-luigi.html (accessed 25/04/2016)
Pages from Kodachrome taken from:
Image of blue sky by Luigi Ghirri taken from:
http://www.baudoin-lebon.com/en/expositions/presentationarchives/79/kodachrome (accessed 25/04/2016)
Image of mirror reflection by Luigi Ghirri taken from:
http://www.douglashydegallery.com/luigi-ghirri-gallery-1/ (accessed 25/04/2016)