Federica Chiocchetti’s Best of 2017

Front cover of The Iceberg © Giorgio Di Noto

Giorgio Di Noto’s The Iceberg, published by Edition Patrick Frey
By far one of the most exciting photobooks of the year as it deals with multiple layers of invisibility in an irresistible way. We are in the drug-dealing realm of the dark or deep web, these are images selected or produced by drug dealers to secretly sell their illegal products. The images often avoid explicitly referring to the object they are representing, so the reader is invited to make loose associations, ie the poisonous snake coiled around a woman’s arm in what looks like a Renaissance painting hinting at the idea of a drug. The images have a precarious temporary life, as they disappear once the deal is completed and do not appear, and are not traceable, on the surface web. Di Noto found a special ink to print his picture edit, which reveals the images on the surface only under UV light – the same light used to search for traces of drugs. Designed by the talented Nicolas Polli, it comes in a beautiful black box with a torch.

The exhibition Sophie Calle and her guest Serena Carone: Beau doublé, Monsieur le marquis! at the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature
So many reasons to be totally conquered by this show. Sophie Calle’s work is like a drug, you can only get addicted to it – brutally honest, ironic, autobiographical and voyeuristic. It deals with the quintessential issues in life that we all face – love, sex, loneliness and death. Carone’s sculptures respond to Calle’s anecdotes almost in a fetishistic way, creating a sort of cabinet of disquieting, existential curiosities. After the first rooms, Calle’s anecdotes are presented as small frames disseminated subtly throughout the museum, mingling mysteriously with its permanent collection, so that the visitors themselves become hunters.

Jason Fulford’s workshop A Million Preachers at Gazebook’s Sicily PhotoBook Festival 2017, Punta Secca or #drypoint for aficionados
I had the pleasure of being the translator for this workshop, and I must say that I never experienced such a wonderful combination of humour, rigour, art history, pioneering editing techniques, and great music in the context of teaching. As the description read: “In bad political times, everyone becomes a preacher. And a million preachers is annoying. Problem: You want to help the situation, but how? Journalism, satire, essay, comedy? Where is the line between documentary, fiction and propaganda? And where do you stand? Jason Fulford doesn’t have the answers, but he has some opinions. Join him for a 2-day workshop of games and exercises on this topic. Bring some work of your own, or a historical body of work to play with and re-edit. Sometimes the best results happen by accident”. And accidentally on purpose he delivered his truly entertaining wizardry.

The General States of Photography in Italy, organised by Lorenza Bravetta, Councillor for Photography at the Italian Ministry of Culture
Being an Italian who always complains about how Italy is behind, photography-wise, for once I was impressed by the capillary persistence of what could be described as an Italian grand tour of photography. Its inaugural encounter took place in Rome in April 2017, where an incredible number of experts from all over the world were invited to share ideas and give pragmatic advice to the Italian Ministry of Culture on how to improve the status of photography in the country. Then it developed into more thematic and focused symposia – 19 encounters which took place in almost every single region, including more than 450 speakers in total over just six months. Lucca on 10 December the last stop, and an official strategic plan for photography will be revealed by the Ministry in the new year. Regardless of any futile polemics, it is a bold first step that deserves to be celebrated.

The Dead Darlings Auction at Foam Fusion Festival in Amsterdam, June 2017
The electrifying happy end of a successful Foam Fusion festival. As they describe themselves: “Dead Darlings is an anonymous auction series that, by tradition, introduces all lots by title only. The contributing artists are listed, but the connection between the works and their makers is not revealed until after the sale. The auctioned pieces are works that no longer fit into the artists’ output as a whole, but still hold a special place in their hearts, thus the title Dead Darlings. They are the innocent victims of the artistic process, given a chance to be liberated from that context and appreciated for the qualities they display as singular autonomous entities”.

Originally published in the British Journal of Photography.