The Bell-Roberts Art Gallery in Cape Town hosts an exhibition of photography by Giovanni Agresti Fiumara. Capetonians© is an ongoing project which consists of a collection of black and white studio portraits of residents of Cape Town. Each photograph was taken in a home studio setting, using the same camera (medium square format 6x6), the same lens (150 mm), identical black and white negative film (100 ISO), invariably the same lighting conditions (studio flash) and settings, identical exposures, similar subject’s positions or poses and a consistent distance to the camera. In general no more than six pictures were taken per subject in addition to one or two Polaroid test shots. In some isolated cases, two sessions were needed.
“Many people are anxious when they’re about to be photographed: not because they fear, as primitives do, being violated but because they fear the camera’s disapproval. People want the idealized image: a photograph of themselves looking their best. They feel rebuked when the camera doesn’t return an image of themselves as more attractive than they really are. But few are lucky enough to be “photogenic”- that is, to look better in photographs (even when not made up or flattered by the lighting) than in real life. That photographs are often praised for their candor, their honesty, indicates that most photographs, of course, are not candid.”
Susan Sondag, On photography (Penguin Book)
By restricting the external parameters in this way, a “control” situation was set up in which it was hoped that the “Capetonian nature” of each subject would be revealed.
In its frank portrait approach of the subjects, Capetonians© has no overt social or political agenda. It embodies a simple form of portraiture and shows the very nature of my relationship with “Capetonians”. It has no other ambition.
This project will culminate in a book by the same title.
Giovanni was born in Belgium in 1968, where he studied law, economics and finances. He became a professional photographer in 2001. He spends his time between South Africa and Italy. Giovanni has participated in several group exhibitions as well as Month of Photography in 2002 and 2005.
The exhibition is presented in the form of a digital projection of selected images.The slide show is looped and each image will appear for a few seconds before fading. The projected pictures are at least one and a half square meters in size and include the original negative border. Two original pictures will be displayed (unframed) during the exhibition, however all the images in the catalogue are for sale. Each photograph is an original archival pigment print, (image size100x100cm). Each photograph is named after the subject and is dated.