Massimo Siragusa • Photographer, Italy

Teatro italiano

Landscape Stories: To what extent your intellectual curiosity and your desire for knowing have given shape and fed your artistic research?
Massimo Siragusa:Photography is for me most of all a means of expression by which I try to tell something about myself and to understand not only myself but also the world around myself. It is a ongoing process which doesn’t end in the moment of the shoot, it involves the whole existence instead and it is also fuelled by the thousands of stimulus that I receive everyday. Curiosity and lust for knowledge are my lifeblood.

© Massimo Siragusa
© Massimo Siragusa

Landscape Stories: How much attention do you give to what is going on in the world of photography and of contemporary art?
Massimo Siragusa:Not much. Not as much as I should at least. I’m more interested in literature maybe.

© Massimo Siragusa

Landscape Stories: Your book “Teatro d’Italia” (Italian Theatre) published by Contrasto, contains different portraits of ancient and contemporary sites, some of them well known and some anonymous, like gardens, monuments, panoramic viewpoints and public squares. How do you find and choose those projects and the places you consider interesting for your research?
Massimo Siragusa: There is no rule actually. In some cases projects and sites literally “come” to me in an absolutely randomly. In other cases I simply verify and I work on an idea or a prejudice I have directly on the spot. In every case I always need to feel that I’m satisfying an absolute need for discovery and knowledge.

© Massimo Siragusa
© Massimo Siragusa

Landscape Stories: Referring to the previous question… Literature, backstage, theatre… How much poetry and how much prose is there in your work? How important have been for you feeding your cultural imaginary through art, literature and cinema?
Massimo Siragusa: What kind of men would we be without knowledge? Art, literature and cinema feed our soul. None of my pictures would have existed without a good book by my side.

© Massimo Siragusa
© Massimo Siragusa

Landscape Stories: Working and living in Italy means being surrounded by beauty, in history and memory. How the places you have grown into have had an influence on you? What does working in Italy mean for you?
Massimo Siragusa:I love Italy, its beauty, but I love its contradictions too. It’s a wonderful Country, so wonderful that it can afford to systematically destroy its territory and its culture. It is from these different stimulus which come from every directions that I take the lifeblood for my work. Still now, after so many years of work, I’m not tired of this Country.

© Massimo Siragusa

Landscape Stories: A picture can describe a place, give evidence of a location, set the guidelines of a story. In your opinion to what extent is it important for a picture to be illustrative, ambiguous and able to keep any clue and sign hidden
Massimo Siragusa: No picture can only be a document or a description. Behind every good photo there’s always some ambiguity and illusion. It brings the photographer’s point of view, his ideas and his way of leading his life. If one cannot find any different level of interpretation, if there’s no surprise in the picture, it is probably a photo we probably shouldn’t have shot.

© Massimo Siragusa

Landscape Stories: In which way Photography can lead a political meaning? Does the word “Politics” reminds in a way of a positive, wide and complex idea, of a good citizenship to be intended like a debate upon what is actually shared in the human space…
Massimo Siragusa: A picture has tens of different meanings. Without any doubt it also has a political meaning. It can generate new points of view or help our reflection upon things. And although it can’t determine a real change or solve any conflicts it surely can give its contribute to build people’s conscience.

© Massimo Siragusa

Landscape Stories: How, in your professional experience, the relation among commercial photography, artistic research and collecting has developed? Are there any restrictions due to the lack of photographic culture of buyers?
Massimo Siragusa: Photography represents to me a research for the personal expression but it is also my job. I’ve always tried to get these to aspects together and make them coexist. I’ve tried to find my own style and to keep my way of making pictures coherent even when I had to satisfy some requests. The most important thing for me is being chosen from a client for what I do and for how I do it. A photographer is an author and he should be appreciated for it. I know the relationship with buyers is not always easy, but it’s important to find an agreement and meet in the middle between different needs without forgetting what I do. As for collecting I haven’t had many problems. I’ve always seen my work as connected to a system of themes and series even when there were almost any galleries. For this reason it hasn’t been that difficult to get in the collecting circuit, even if it certainly has very strict rules.

© Massimo Siragusa
© Massimo Siragusa

Landscape Stories: Photographic representation of architecture, as it appears in reviews, is stereotyped and homologated and it follows aesthetic rules which say that architecture must be uncontaminated, aseptic and pure. But architecture has its own life, it changes in time and on the basis of light variations and it can excape the consumption of materials. How is it possible to use photography to represent architecture without following a personal approach while meeting private buyers needs and requests?
Massimo Siragusa: I really love architecture, urban buildings and the locations where we live. I love seeing their interior life, most times with the people who live there and who help to define volumes and spaces. I’m not an authentic architecture photographer, I’d rather define myself as a documentary photographer. In order not to get overwhelmed by private buyers you have to keep your point of view still, be able to interpret their requests and re-elaborate them through your own stile.

© Massimo Siragusa
© Massimo Siragusa

Landscape Stories: What are you currently working on? What are your plans for 2013?
Massimo Siragusa: I’ve always got lots of plans, but I prefer not to reveal them. I prefer talking about what I’ve actually done rather than listing what is still to be done. You know, I’m from Sicily, it’s for good luck…

Interview curated by Gianpaolo Arena
Translation curated by Mirco Pilloni