Tuesday, March 30, 2021

A Conversation in Gestures, This Morning (4 Images)

A conversation in full bloom in the upper floor at left


I suppose I heard the loud voice at the same time I saw the hands gesturing out the window, but it's the latter that stopped me in my tracks and kept me watching. Soon enough I no longer really heard the voice, didn't even notice the topic of conversation, just the movement of the hands, telling their own story.

It took me a little while to realize that both the words and the gesticulations were addressed across the calle to a woman standing out of sight in a ground floor doorway. And that every now and then--but only rarely--there was a reply from the ground floor doorway, vocal or gestural, or some combination of both, but in either case nowhere near as loud or expressive as her interlocutor on the upper floor. Neither the hands nor voice on the ground floor could get a word in edgewise, as they say, but that's not to say the person on the upper floor was overbearing, just animated. If I didn't have errands to run, I would have liked to stay a while longer, not to eavesdrop, but to watch for the unpredictable appearances of the hands coming out with some flourish or other from the upper window, then disappearing again. 


Sunday, March 28, 2021

From the Archives: Late Afternoon Row, South Lagoon

Previously unposted: taken 4 January 2020 (about a month before the reach of Covid began to be acknowledged)

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Stop Time: Midair (This Morning)

During lock down it's sometimes easy to feel something like that shovel-load of gravel in the image above, stopped in mid-flight between one place and another, somewhere outside of time, but, as the image also shows, things are still getting done even here. (I can only hope it's not for the conversion of yet another residential property into a tourist one.)

Thursday, March 18, 2021

3 Views of the Weekend Before Our Latest Lock Down Began

Saturday, 13 March 2021

I'll admit I've no inclination to write about the new lock down that began in Venice (and most of the rest of Italy) this past Monday. I'm sure there are plenty of other people writing about it.

The only thing I'll note here is how odd it was in the weeks prior to the lock down to watch the number of tourists (mostly Italians) climb steadily every weekend after the New Year began--even as there were daily reports in the news of highly contagious new Covid variants spreading in places all over the globe.

By Sunday, 7 March 2021, just 8 days before the latest lock down officially began, we must have seen no fewer then six different tours groups, each numbering around a dozen people, being led around the Cannaregio area as we passed through it, as well as a few large tour boats plying the waters around Burano, their loudspeakers blaring the voices of Italian guides.

I can't imagine these day-tripper tours held any benefits for the vast majority of business owners in Venice, but I guess somebody must have been making money in the short term, for the short time they could, and, well, beyond that, what did it matter to them or the city authorities who permitted them.

And so we return to lock down....


Friday, 12 March 2021 (when you find you don't have the wide angle lens with you that need so you try to make do with the panorama mode)

Saturday, 13 March 2021 (again, panorama as compensation)

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Announcing a Limited Edition of 20 Photographic Prints: "Campo San Fantin, 2 May 2020"

The photo "Campo San Fantin, 2 May 2020," as framed by Luca Olivato


The image featured in this post was not the one I intended to take. Luckily.

That one had been carefully set up and I thought I knew pretty much everything I'd capture in it. I'd positioned my tripod as close as I could to the façade of the Ateneo Veneto, and situated my camera with its wide angle lens so as to capture all of the architectural elements arrayed in a space that struck me as something like a domestic interior. 

For that's one of the things about Venice: the very first time you walk around the city you're likely to think you've never seen any place so strange, and all the architectural details, the ornamentation, the tones and shadows and reflections, and, not least of all, the marks of time, are apparently infinite, forever beyond the capacity of your reeling perception to take in.

But after a certain number of years living here, it's not that the surprises cease--for there's always some previously unseen detail coming to the fore even on your most familiar routes--but you suddenly realize there's not a place you walk in the city that does not seem like a room in some rambling yet unified interior space. 

Even the furthest reaches of the lagoon, in all their natural interest and beauty, seem part of this domestic sphere that is Venice. Motor or row as far out from the city center as you can, and yet you still find yourself within the vast but definite embrace of the lagoon.

The image of this post, then, struck me, unconsciously at the time, as something like an interior, though it features the very famous exterior of La Fenice right in its center.

It was May 2, and I'd seen almost absolutely no one as I'd walked around the city center and Piazza San Marco before finding myself in front of La Fenice, then drifting over toward the Ateneo where I was struck by this vantage point. 

So I had my camera all set up on its tripod, and because of the low light would need a long exposure to capture the shot. With no one on the streets I had all the time in the world to try a couple of practice exposures without interruption. It was just after I'd decided I'd gotten everything on the camera properly set when from out of the calle beside La Fenice walked a man wearing a mask and rubber surgical gloves and carrying a suitcase.

The thing about shooting a long exposure is that someone can walk across the picture frame while the shutter is open and not appear in the captured image--as long as they don't pause somewhere along the way. 

When this man appeared I decided to wait until he'd crossed out of view, I was in no hurry. But then he stopped where you see him and stood absolutely still, not checking his smart phone, not turning his head, not shuffling his feet, and his stillness was so total and unexpected that I tripped the shutter, knowing that if he stood there too long he'd simply appear as solid as he was in real life, while if he moved in place, adjusting his mask or scratching his ear, he'd become a blur.

But he remained stock still for a couple of seconds and then exited the frame, leaving behind the transparent figure you see in the image.

That's exactly what I recollect as happening that evening, and yet when I think about the almost complete emptiness of the streets on that night toward the end of the city's long lock down and see that trace of a human figure in the image, part of me almost starts to wonder if that curious figure wasn't a spectre all along.

In any case, that's the story behind the image I've now had made into a limited edition of 20 signed and numbered prints produced by the best photography printer in the area, Vittorio Pavan. He's the guy museums turn to when they need a wall-sized print for an exhibition, or an archival quality print made from a precious negative or plate (such as the original glass plates of Mariano Fortuny's 1890 and 1930 self-portraits).

Looking through the beautiful prints he'd made from the hundreds of thousands of vintage negatives he tends to as the archivist of the Cameraphoto Archive, and then viewing last fall's exhibition of Cartier-Bresson at the Palazzo Grassi, reminded me that it's a very different experience to look at an actual photograph instead of an image on a screen.

We consume images like potato chips these days; compulsively as popcorn, though without the buttery fingers--just clean swipes upon glass.*

But living in the presence of actual photographs, just like living in the presence of actual books (like the personal libraries--whether of 30 or 3,000 volumes--people used to have), is a very different experience from the way we store them, immaterially, on our various devices.

I recently realized that in over ten years of blogging I've now put up 1,210 posts--which means an even greater number of images and I don't know how many words--and not a single one of these posts, images, or words has any material existence in the actual world.

It's not that there's any problem with that, certainly nothing sad or tragic about it. But for someone who grew up during a time when to make something meant to make an object--even if that object, or those pages, in my case, ended up socked away and forgotten in some filing cabinet or closet, never to be seen in the larger (or even some very tiny) world--it just seems a little odd.

So: this limited edition of 20 prints: printed on Ilford Gold Fiber Silk Baryta paper, 310 gsm, by Vittorio at CameraPhoto Epoche, Venice, Italy, with an Epson Sure Color P7500 Fine Art printer using UltraChrome Pro 12 pigment inks.

The printed image itself measures 30 cm (width) x 33 cm (11.8" x 13"), while the sheet of photo paper on which it is printed measures 36 cm x 39 cm (14.2" x 15.35").

In a world of infinite images it was important to me strictly limit this one, so each print also comes with a certificate of authenticity (at right), printed on deckle edged mould made Hahnmühle paper, signed by Vittorio and myself, and affixed with a uniquely numbered irremovable and irreproducible holographic sticker that matches the same uniquely numbered holographic sticker affixed to the back of the corresponding print.

Each print is also signed and numbered on the back by me. 

The cost of a print is 245 euro + shipping.

Framed prints like the one at the top of this post are available with either black or white frames for 320 euro + shipping. The framing will be done by Luca Olivato at his Rialto Cornici shop just a stone's throw from the Rialto Pescaria. The dimensions of the frame are 47 cm (width) x 50 cm (or 18.5" x 19.7")

Unframed prints will be rolled and shipped in 10 cm diameter tubes, with a wall thickness of 3 mm.

Payment can be made through Paypal or bank transfer after shipping costs have been calculated.

Please leave a comment below for more information, or you can contact me directly through the "Contact Venezia Blog" box that you will find by scrolling down the right-hand margin of this blog.



* Though not entirely without any oily residue, as demonstrated beautifully, graphically, and unforgettably, in the limited edition photography book Strokes by Tiane Doan Na Champassak: easily the smartest book I've ever seen on the intimate and even fetishistic relationship people have with their smart phones. (Caution: this work contains some nude images, though they are obscured by abstraction.) 

Monday, March 1, 2021

Like Walking on Water, Venetian Style: Rolando Segalin's Gondola Shoes

The witty and beautiful gondola shoes of Rolando Segalin now featured in the window of Antichità Barzaghi

If you're going to happen upon a pair of vintage hand-made gondola-shaped shoes someplace in Venice I suppose it's only appropriate that they be in the window of an antique shop located beside Venice's famous boating supply store Nikolaj (established 1923). 

The striking pair of shoes are the work of one of Venice's greatest 20th century artisans, Rolando Segalin, who died in 2014 at the age of 82, but whose atelier-- just a stone's throw from Campo San Luca and close to the Bacino Orseolo (gondola central just off Piazza San Marco)--remains the site of exquisite shoemaking, now done by his one-time apprentice  Daneila Ghezzo.

Segalin himelf is the subject of a book, Storie de un calegher, published in 2018, and the inspiration for the Premio Rolando Segalin (a poster for which, seen above, features his gondola shoes) given each year to Venice's most promising artisans. A pair of the shoes were purchased by Toronto's Bata Shoe Museum for its permanent collection.

The pair of Segalin's gondola shoes in the image at the top of this post--the most famous of a variety Segalin's creations inspired by the reintroduction of Carnevale in Venice in 1979--are in the window of the shop Antichità Barzaghi (along with a number of other beautiful non-footwear items, I should note). 

If you're interested in purchasing them you can contact the shop's proprietor, Alberto Barzaghi, at a.barzaghi24@gmail.com. 

Segalin's gondola shoes were also featured in the above poster for an evening celebrating the life and work of the maestro, whose panel of presenters included philosopher and critic, and former mayor of Venice, Massimo Cacciari.