G. Caporale Institute 2008 Calendar


A pastoral world: where poetry and scientific observation meet
Photographs: Vincenzo Ammazzalorso 

With painstaking observation, Vincenzo Ammazzalorso has followed the life of a flock for years, to bring together the most significant moments in the life of the animals and the use of their products. The resulting panorama is in reality an open-ended work awaiting further developments. It is so wide-ranging that this calendar is barely a significant specimen of this important work.

His way of placing himself before his subjects has various intentions: steadfast scientific observation and a taste for the shot framed without embellishment, but open to the determinant details of time, place and situation. In this wide-ranging portfolio of notes, his clarity of commitment can also carry tender references and emotional messages.   Ammazzalorso could not bear to omit a note of romantic sweetness in these images, which touch the heart-strings, of a pastoral world. After all, the kid at the watering-place (July), the sheepdog at rest but watchful (August) and the flock in the D'Annunzian September in front of the gullies (September) were in the collective imagination before any photograph.

But having paid his respects to the literary tradition, and found his vantage-points, not without effort but with the satisfaction of having captured moments of touching beauty, the photographer went straight for his object: to show some aspects of a daily reality, like unnoticed stops along a route which winds its way through centuries of sheepfarming:   from birth (January) to human intervention to give the lamb its first feed (February and April) and the suckling of one that is already independent (May). The animals are captured in the characterisation of their vital function, and possess a striking expressive immediacy. There is another kind of static character in the images with the flock awaiting milking (top image), in the sheep-barn (March) or beside the manger (December), in a systematic zooming-in, from the open space to the almost intimate characterization of the scene, which recalls a crib. Ammazzalorso has various ways of getting close to his subject in order to capture particular aspects, but also to achieve a significant abstraction of surface. The representative function is overcome, for example, by stressing blacks and whites, with the heads of the sheep gathered in an ecstatic and variegated vision (June). There is another element of abstraction in the "tonalism", like one of Morandi's still lifes, of a vision which gives the rounds of cheese he depicts a touch of true poetry (November). The image thus verges on a metaphysical timelessness, which relates well to the impenetrable gaze of the resting shepherd (October), who also is outside the usual moments of mass civilization.

This calendar, then, seems to take us back to distant times: there is no sign of technology to recall to us the incessant rhythms of the life of today. Here all is calm, unhurried but not idealized: each view stands on its own as an artistic expression, chosen by the photographer to frame a picture and to stop time in a reflection which strikes us by its character and its solemnity. The end result is free of nostalgic tones and, at the same time, of documentary coldness: Ammazzalorso knows how to give his work the character of scientific witness as well as the authenticity of a human encounter which fairly recalls the sense of memory.

Nerio Rosa

© IZSAM August 2016

Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale

dell'Abruzzo e del Molise "G. Caporale"


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