The life that is inside of a photograph. As a child I watched with a magnifying glass images of distant countries I found among postcards or in geography books.

I was looking for the details not visible to the naked eye, but which had to be impres- sed in the movies. I searched into the corners of the streets, among the trees or in a window, to catch something more of that unknown world, almost to enter into it. Obviously, magnifying, I obtained only the shelling of the photograph, not the life that I thought it was inside. But I insisted. And if I could not see anything, I dreamed of seeing him, I dreamed up.

The idea that photography has a clotted life within it, waiting to be pulled out and lived under our eyes, I rediscover it now looking at the- se pictures of Patrizia Posillipo elaborated by the sculptor Francesco Alessio. The first impression I had of it was very strong. I immediately imagined that the sculptor had done on those photos something similar to what I was trying to do as a child with a magnifying glass: he made to come up with something that was trapped in there, he made it visible to the naked eye, and not only to the eye but also to the touch, and to the tactile-eye that is in each one.

The stone boats

I first look for the one entitled Carghi. It is a marine coast in backlight. I know that was taken in Iceland. In the middle three black stacks stand up by a thin black stripe, perfectly horizontal, in the middle of two others stripes of coast of greater height, also horizontal. Everything in here has a horizontal course, even the black furrows streaming down the body of water in front. All, except those three bizarre shapes that stand up upward. So, for that their contrasting verticality, they suddenly seem to begin to move, very slow, in quiet procession. Three figures advancing calm, from the left to the right: the first in the forward position and phallic, the second one most peaceful and good-natured in his potbellied mass, the third, the one that closes the procession, thoughtfully sloped forward.

And then, above all this, here they are other silhouettes from bizarre profiles, other shadows, but clear instead of dark, behind the black figures. And above all heavier, bodily, carved in the marble: as stone boats.

They also seem to move slowly, doubling the procession. They plow transversely the photography, they exceed the edges, make a bridge with the outside. Where these stone ghosts are going to go? Maybe they are the ghosts of all the boats that have sailed or who will sail the stretch of sea during the time, in the past and future, whose traces have remained imprisoned in the picture? And now they become visible, literally come to life, acquiring a material consistency, tridimensional.

Photography is not just image.

When I saw for the first time the famous daguerreotype depicting Balzac in his shirt, with the bare neck and the hand resting on his chest, I could not think of the time that it had taken in order that the body of the writer, immobilized for several minutes, leave traces of himself on a silver copper sheet. Balzac was convinced that the daguerreotype was holding something of the photographed body, and that this lost in the process one of his “ghosts”, that is a part of his constitutive essence. Today we do not believe it anymore. Pixels have replaced the alchemical imagination. Though that belief, now obsolete, is closer to the truth than you think. Photography is not just image. It is also body, is also matter canalized into the light, dust of atoms precipitated on a sensitive surface.

That is what I thought looking at these objects, called photosculptures.

Disclosed worlds

But is it appropriate to call them that? Of course it is, because here photography and sculpture come together, where bodies with three- dimensions overlap into a flat image, two-dimensional,. But at the same time photosculpture is also a generic term, which in the last two centuries has been used to indicate a variety of techniques, and artistic operations so different from this, and also much different between them. From statues of clay made in Paris by François Willème from 1859, and obtained by a pantograph that traced profiles of the same subject in succession, which had been taken simultaneously from different angles before, to the bas-reliefs in clay of the early of the twentieth century made and photographed by Domenico Mastroianni. Now we call photosculptures all three-dimensional objects obtained by inserting pictures in different supports. Therefore we need a new name to suggest the particularity of these sculptural interventions on photos. I risk it one: disclosed photographs, or – why not? – Sculptures of ghosts.

What distinguishes them is that here photography is present in its original figuration, without alterations or cuttings, lying on its plain ground. To it the sculptor adds a material commentary of the image: a complement of the creation, that unleashes a further possible sense, implicit or hidden in the photograph.

The inside is out

Now I look at the landscape with a waterfall called Ponti. Also this photo was taken in Iceland. The water has dug a furrow between two strips of a dry, rocky land. No bridge crosses it. Bridges – if there are – the sculptor has added them . And they are sections of bricks for building in part glazed of blue, in the same color of the sky. In their smashing shape, they remind vaguely to the arches of ancient aqueducts. Unrealistic bridges, that do not connect the two edges of the soil of waterfall. What do they connect? Perhaps the elements: water, air, land (congealed in the same matter added, in the bricks for building made of faience) that are connected but they do not join in the world represented.

Many things here intersect without join. So also sculpture and photography. If they approach here, it is to give rise to a suspended bout, which produces something more than their simple hybridization. Instead of merging they remain two autonomous and individual activities, while both tend toward something that transcends them.

Or maybe the bridges connect the photographed microcosm to all that is going out. Also here in fact, such as in the other disclosed photographs, Carghi, Strade, Tumuli, Porta, Solco and Vascelli, an applied structure goes beyond the space of photography, runs out of its borders, giving a sense of continuation and infinite.

In Tumuli you can see on the bottom of the picture, simple common graves made of clear cement, cylindrical, without engravings. I know that the picture was taken in the Jewish cemetery of Fez, in Morocco (the same one that seen in Porta, but there it reveals the monumental section, with important graves with transcripts in Hebrew). Above it has been added an iron grid that closes the graves in an outside, or in an inside. It contains them, keeping them in their place, but not to impede them to fall fatally here, in our world, with fragments of stone that seem disconnected from those mounds, and remained entangled between the links of the grate. Are bones escaping from a cupboard made of a metal system, as in the church of San Bernardino of Bones in Milan?

If in place of photography we had a painting, both two-dimensional representations, we could compare these photosculptures to what it already happened in ancient art or in the archaic one. The plasticity of the matter that blends to the drawing, the real ‘object’ which joins the plain representation of the painting, are processes that belong to art, especially the religious one, since its origins. In the Sacred Mount of Varallo, for example, in the various chapels-stations that de- pict scenes from the passion of Christ, sculpture and painting interact with amazing effects. Ahead we see life-size statues, behind them, to continue the scene and to make them as a background, there is a fresco. And sometimes it happens that a painted horse protrude from the wall with his head, not painted anymore but in relief, modeled in clay. Or that a statue goes out by walking from a door painted with all the plastic volume of its figure, in scale one to one. Or we think of the ornaments in real gold or real silver that can be seen pasted on many ancient paintings, to decorate the faces of Madonnas, Christs or Saints.

The hybridization between two-dimensional and three-dimensional is something that belongs to art since its origins, and that perhaps the post-Renaissance painting, in its main path, and purist, has rejected, as if it were an impure process. The Dadaists recaptured it in a transgressive way, when pasted over their paintings pieces of found objects. In the disclosed photographs of Posillipo and Alessio the pro- cess returns but in a completely different form, first of all instead of painting there is photography. Furthermore the invention is poetic, not ironic-transgressive. Finally, unlike what happens in certain installations, such as the Fall of Berlin, a diorama with ‘real’ rubbles placed just opposite to the image, the additions of matters here are not realistic, they do not aim to that realistic illusionism of representation, but to build a greater sense that transcends the photographic image and the very same idea of representation.

Carla Benedetti