Pyramids between fantasy and reality.
In 2004, I finally met for the first time in reality, or so I thought, the great pyramids in Il Cairo’s desert. Symbol of a power that declined only after centuries of domination, culture, art, wars, physical power, genius of construction, mysteries hidden in the depths of places that perhaps exist only in our imagination.
Monolithic, physical, geometric and mineral under our scrutiny filtered by our oniric sense of imagination, pyramids become alien, mysterious, menacing, repellent, claustrophobic, vertigo inducing and oppressing.
But, they are also inviting, welcoming, reassuring, sheltering, just like the “Cavern” near Alberto Giacometti’s favorite childhood play spots was for the sculptor .
Double interpretations to be made, faced with these enormous constructions that are ambiguous, harsh and obscure today, but were shiny white when they first appeared, light as sails ready to take off like spaceships arriving from nowhere.
I had to choose. Interpret history, the one that truly transpired or let imagination take over?
Documenting pyramids at a particular time of their physical development or telling the tale of our collective imagination and dream world?
The day and the weather left me no choice. There was not a cloud in the sky, not even a slit to let a beam of light through, everything was muffled and even beyond feeling you could see the silence, in an absolute desert. Like in a time machine, this landscape, early in the morning, brought me back in time, at the origin of my taking pictures. To the 60’s.
Then I was struck and astounded by the “high” whites of Giuseppe Cavalli’s photographs and I began to shoot looking at his work, not so much at his subjects but rather at his tones. At that time there were competitions and my shots brought back to mind Cavalli’s work. I wasn’t lacking for recognition.
Then, starting the early 70’s, “absolute black” took over in entertainment photography.
And so the past came back, in this perhaps magic, certainly unique place, to lead me back to a vision of the place. Was I interested in the immobility of pyramids? The hardness of their stone? Their almost indestructible presence, as though they were born before the world?
No, what fascinated me was pyramids as light, dematerialized of their physical existence, pyramids as a “flying carpet”. The imaginative and dreamy part of me thought, as some dreamers still hope, that they were actually spaceships that had landed from nowhere and that, sooner or later, it would leave us again… taking off in all their newly found whiteness, with all their lightness and absolute silence. What will be left is their hard stone shell, like the chrysalis of an enormous butterfly.
While I photographed the white inside the white, I thought I was inside a mirage, a Fata Morgana, that I was in a world that isn’t really here.
I am not a philosopher, I am not an art historian, I m not just an historian, I am not a man of letters, I am a photographer who loves imagination, the dream world and fantasy. Borges thought that “Art for Art sake aims to entertain not to teach, to lend life to fantasy, the imagination, life in a mirror that filters the material world and gives back fairy tales.”
Vasco Ascolini, 6 August 2014