Vincenzo, we met in Spilimbergo when you had already started photographing mosaic artists from the region. How did you get the idea for your project MATERIAE?
I am actually from Rome and my focus in photography is on urban landscapes. When I came here I was looking for a project that would help me to get to know the Friuli better. In my research, I finally came across the mosaic craft which has a long tradition here. So from a rather wide and territorial point of view I have gotten to a very detailed one.
I have met almost all of the artists that are part of the series until now in person. In every picture I see the personality of the portrayed, his particular style. How much time do you invest to understand what is special about his approach and character?
Usually, I hear of them through word of mouth and most of the times I have already learned a lot about them before our meeting. By visiting exhibitions, the study of publications or by visiting the studio I make myself a more accurate picture and develop an idea for the later photo.
In each of the photos, details of the clothes, accessories or expression of the artist himself pick something from the representative mosaic beside him. How is this is choice made?
Although I make the final decisions, the artists are involved in the creative process. Usually, I explain the meaning of my series and propose a way to build a bridge between work and personality. The interesting thing is that this often happens spontaneously and by itself, without too many questions or research.
With MATERIAE, do you want to limit yourself to Friuli?
For the moment yes, but more due to practical reasons. In the long term, I can imagine to extend the range. And, if you look at the mosaicists that I have worked with until now, there already is a wide territorial range given by the various countries of origin among the portrayed: Some come from different regions of Europe and some from other parts of the world. If you look at their work, this gets very evident, because of peculiarities of their culture of origin that are mixed with the culture and technique here in Friuli. My study, which started with the idea to show people from the region has thus become one that tells stories of artists from different backgrounds with the same passion: making mosaic.
Since you have been working on this series of portraits, what has impressed you most? What fascinates you about contemporary mosaic art and its protagonists?
In a society that is characterized by speed and virtuality these Mosaicisti choose a different path. They continue a tradition, a craft dating back thousands of years, based on the slowness and matter itself. Hence the title of the project.
Compliment for your work. We are curious who you will present us in the future!
Born in Bari 1974, Vincenzo Labellarte lives and works in Friuli and Rome. After his studies of architecture, in his photos he starts to represent and anaylize the city and its territories. He has worked as a photographer with several architectural firms to create multimedia outreach projects. In 2015, during the Open House of Rome, he organizes Niente da vedere, multimedia exhibition about the city. He has published in L’Espresso and exhibited in Turin and Rome in Fotoleggendo 2014, and 2NC-Fest multipli cities 2015, biennial of urban photography.
To find out more about the project, go visit vincenzolabellarte.it.