Luigi Di Corato

Denis Masi is not a photographer, he is an artist who uses photography, alongside other media, to realize his works. Photography is the starting point of a long and complex process that turns the photograph into a means rather than the end of the work. Tripping the shutter is the tool through which Masi obtains the images from which he extracts what he is looking for. Like an entomologist or a biologist, Masi also is a researcher. He is interested in the detail, the gradation, and the particular which conceal the symbol, the essence of an event. In the recent past he has looked at the power structures hidden in contemporary social systems.

Whenever he uses the photographic image, he always reduces it to an archetype. The equipment he uses –a simple manual camera with just one lens, and always the same type of black and white film– is far more basic than that of a journalistic photographer. The iconographic sources thus captured are transformed into a work in the privacy of the artist's studio. From an exposed roll of 35mm black and white film, Masi obtains a contact sheet; this allows him to choose what will eventually become 25.5 x 20 cm prints. Using a sheet of tracing paper fixed to the photograph, he chooses and crops the composition he wants to use. Once the selection is made, he re-photographs the chosen detail with 10 x 12.5 cm film to have the best possible choice for the scale of the image and the ideal contrast for the final print which will be realised only at a later stage.

Building on the experience developed in Siena with the project Power and Glory (in which the artist portrayed the exceptional ordinariness of an event such as the Palio), Masi has created, during the eight months of his Rome residency, a work in six parts corresponding to six portraits of the city realised through the analysis of several events loaded with content: for example, the funeral of Alberto Sordi; the peace march of 15th February 2003; the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum; the Roma-Milan football match. Events which range from mourning to political struggle, from religious devotion to sports fanaticism, brought together by their being all occasions for emotional externalization. Topical moments which Masi extracts from a chronicle and turns into symbols of history thanks to the faces of the anonymous everyday.

Luigi Di Corato


Portraits and Passion – Page 1