The Moving City

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What is more fundamental than the human being in motion?  What holds more meaning, more beauty?  What wordless state tells us more about ourselves than the way we move?

Fourteen new photographs by Renato Zacchia hang on the walls of the Poltrona Frau gallery in Soho.  They are innovative, exciting, full of life, imbued with the spirit of the contemporary metropolis.  They dance.  They move.  They reveal pieces of people, fragments of cityscape.  They portray nothing, no one.  Only physics—matter, time and space—is captured.   These photographs epitomize New York City like nothing before them, by showing us the unceasing human activity that courses through the city day and night, and the effect is stunning.

The pictures were executed in a unique way: by holding the camera low to the ground as he moved through the city, Zacchia captured these images by consciously relying on three separate perspectives.  He saw with his eyes, the camera “saw” with its lens, and Zacchia “saw” what he imagined the camera might be seeing.  This approach produced images that benefit not only from a distinct visual perspective, but from the element of chance that introduced itself with each shot.

Over-enlarged (they are huge), slightly pixilated (they are taken with a small 3.3 megapixel digital camera), saturated with color and light—these photographs look almost like oil paintings.  Their texture, a natural result of the subject matter, is enhanced as a result of the large format.

The soul of the city is revealed.  Zacchia’s pictures, textured and dynamic with movement, color and light, combine the features of symbolism, photojournalism and the aesthetic of cinema to create a photographic style that is original yet respectful of its heritage.  The street is recreated, re-presented, and therefore, initially and ultimately, an abstraction.  This is Zacchia’s achievement: to give us the concrete and the abstract together, and to show us so clearly this cityÑNew YorkÑand all cities of the world.

Italo Calvino, in his Invisible Cities, writes: “If you ask, ‘Why is Thekla’s construction taking such a long time?’ the inhabitants…answer, ‘So that its destruction cannot begin.’ ”  Renato Zacchia takes his pictures leisurely, and his city is built with the materials provided by photography, and by his own identity and experience.  He is the photographerÑthe observer, the outsiderÑfocused on the life and the emotion of his city.  Our city.  The visible city that belongs to everyone.

 

Adam Parker

 

 

 

RZ
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