Old photographs found in the basements, the ones that end up in flea markets, can actually be discovered by new authors, who would narrate those pictures and tell the stories of themselves through the photos that don’t belong to them.
Ivana Marrone from Rome, also called Penny after Beatles’ Penny Lane, was the one who first had an idea of re-shooting old photographs.
In italian language “to shoot again “ is “riscattare” that in english is “redeem”. Then the name of the project “Ri-Scatti” has in Italian this double meaning.
She started by buying tons of photographs by weight in the flea markets of Rome, she then continued collecting pictures with the help of Mr. Mario, who empties the basements for a living.
What a great picture, the one with the soldiers eating, maybe – Penny thought – I should send it via email to Roberto Saviano. 15 minutes later Saviano replied with a short story (around 400 characters).
And this is what many others do now: in this game the history and the present become interconnected and Instagram and Twitter are mixed together.
The reason why Penny came up with this idea is because she was feeling completely saturated by the images that the Internet is packed with.
She asked herself, what sense does it make to create new photographs when no one knows what to do with the old ones?
And this is how she decided to buy the entire stock of the pictures she was flipping through in one of the stands of the flea market in piazza Sempione in Rome.
It all started with a picture of a couple: Penny named the two strangers on the picture, a man and a woman, Enza and Fernando; she made them talk to each other as if they never got lost. Penny posted the story she has invented on Facebook together with the image that inspired her.
Now Penny sends the photos and gets replies from writers (Paolo Cognetti, Chiara Gamberale, Bianca Pitzorno, Erri De Luca), musicians (Paolo Fresu, Cristiano Godano) and songwriters such as Dente, Colapesce, Iosonouncane.
Vinicio Capossela received a photograph of two men waiting for someone: «Marriage by proxy. They are waiting for their brides to get off the tram and they’ve never seen them before».
What about Calcutta? Penny sent him a photo of two children sitting on the ground talking: «A promise one makes as a child is easy to forget».
She started asking other artists to do the same thing, to assume a role of a thaumaturge, to adopt the photographs she bought by weight at the flea market of piazza Sempione and to look for the new ones.
Roberto Saviano created this sad portrait of our country:
“The shirts are black, but not all the way to the bottom. The smiles reflect boredom more than joy, women are close one to another and glad they were allowed to be in the photo. Wearing male jackets, they are laughing. Men are all accomplices. It is neither hot, nor cold. There is the light of Romagna, although it might as well be Lucania or Abbruzzo. Faces burnt by the sun and cigarettes dangling from the lips. All of Italy can be found in this wine fiasco on the table. All of it in this fiasco.”
The writer Bianca Pitzorno, after observing a series of photographs with the same protagonists, produced what could easily be a plot of a novel:
“When Dad discovered these photos, he almost had a heart attack. He was absolutely sure no one knew his secret, his adultery, no one knew about his illegitimate daughter that he’d been hiding so carefully. How could he know that we knew about Elisa, that we had become friends and every year had been spending holidays together as clandestine sisters?”
Betrayals, farewells, departures, joys and tensions have been invented by writers such as Paola Soriga, Ester Armanino, Carolina Cutolo, Aldo Nove and Vins Gallico, journalists Giorgio Zanchini and Massimiliano Coccia, musicians Colapesce and Dente, actors and authors such as Corrado Fortuna.
Intertwined universe full of nuances and in constant growth.
Paolo Fresu, musician, wrote:
“It just wasn’t the right moment, that’s all.
On that morning I wanted to stay in the garden and play with my doll. However, Mum made me go meet my Dad’s friends in the park, on a hot August Sunday. She made me pose, told me to stand in front of Dad and look happy. That Leica seemed to be stealing my gaze and my time, on a hot August Sunday.”