LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph

About Massimo Vitali


“In the human communities photographed by Massimo Vitali there are specific kinds of modern (even definably Mediterranean or American) social habits to be observed in some of their characteristic configurations. Vitali frames his
pictures of these reflexes with ironic and in the end anxious questions: is it only in “taking it easy,” “going on vacation,” or “being a tourist” that human beings nowadays peacefully group themselves in the cocoon of their own kind? that they serenely expose themselves to the stroking of nature? that they can or want to do so? that their world contains places for it? that it can really be as safe and healthy as it looks? Regardless of its acute sociological observation, one of the most striking results of Vitaliʼs photographic zoology is its visual discovery of instinctive conformities of human being regardless of locale or language, at least at the special—even peculiar—sites he has chosen to study. If this is anthropology, it reveals a human ecology. And if it is social criticism, it is not hostile to society—Vitali seems to have great affection for the communities he portrays—but rather intended to clarify what kind of society we are, or perhaps could be. The instincts that Vitali sees in his subjects might be our greatest resource and resilience; they might also be the very reason for lack and loss today. For to conform ourselves to the world is also to allow the world to conform us.” – Whitney Davis

“I follow stories. I look at people, people that interest me…and I start to make connections. When I see a certain number of these connections taking place, then I shoot. I try to have the picture as complicated as I possibly can.” – Massimo Vitali

Massimo Vitali was born in Como, Italy, in 1944. He moved to London after high school, where he studied photography at the London College of Printing. In the early Sixties Vitali started working as a photojournalist, collaborating with many magazines and agencies in Italy and Europe. It was during this time that he met Simon Guttman, the founder of the agency Report, who was to become fundamental in Massimo’s growth as a “Concerned Photographer.” In 1995 he commenced the Beach Series, illuminating the apotheosis of the Herd, expressing and commenting through the most intriguing, palpable forms of contemporary art – Photography. He lives and works in Lucca, Italy, and in Berlin, Germany.

“Massimo Vitali depicts a sanitized, complacent view of Italian normality, at the same time revealing the inner conditions and disturbances of normality: its cosmetic fakery, sexual innuendo, commoditized leisure, deluded sense of affluence, and rigid conformism.” – Whitney Davis