The Ancient Romans Portfolio

Review of the exhibition The Ancient Romans Portfolio on Tribeart by Donato Faruolo, Palermo, 2010

If showing documentaries or truths is the best virtue of the photography, then Sergio Zavattieri is not a good photographer. After Naturalia and UFO sights, now the hidden enigma in his “The Ancient Romans Portfolio”is more exciting. This work production will be exhibit till to the 24th May in Palermo in the Zelle Arte Contemporanea Gallery.
What connects an individual to his own portrait? According to a dictionary definition, it is a simply similarity relationship. The questions made by the ancient Roman bursts pictures, shown in this place, are more complicated at all. Zeus, trying to portray Elena, needed “to collect” from the most beautiful Crotone five virgins. The need was to reproduce a far subject image (physically, temporally and conceptually) from the material base and, in order to make it, he used the ideal, the concept ways, to arrive to what in semiotics it is configured as an icon. The Zeus character becomes the symbol of a way to understand the relationship between man and image in the Greek culture. What happen when the distance from subject to brace is reduced? What happen if the image needs to repeat an immanence, rather than to throw back to other transcendent? The Roman pragmatism answers through the voice of Pliny the Elder, with Brutades, the ceramist of Sicione, who wanted to give to his daughter an eternal image of her lover going to the war. He traced the shadow on the wall to make a low relief portrait. In order to compose the image, it needed a trace, a dropped mark from a presence who imperils its disappearance. It needed an indicative sign. The ideal plane becomes to wear out like the Veronica veil till it goes to lay down on the subject face and gets its features. There is not the unchangeable destiny yet, but the desperate destiny of the individual. It is tried to be faced to that through the desperate fetish ineffectiveness. The project is completed with the coming of the photography, when the sign compounds the image, through a strategic alliance with the rules of a chemical life world. The image does not connect to the subject through a similarity relationship yet, but it is now substituted by that and repeats the presence without considering the time, and it acts as underwriter of an existence. A large preamble, this is a short circuit: a weak light, an old stool and a wood desk on which stands  the portfolio.
We can touch the Zavattieri pictures as we do with the cyanotypes of an old photographic archive of archeological founds in the XIX century. However, in their shady printing, the bursts expressions of the ancient Romans are cured with peculiar attention going over the archive needs or the carved stone piece. There were not any life form to be remarked if the portrayed object was dead like a funeral monument – whom unique life is a mineral one, or even archeological one. Still the glances seem go right from the subject to the camera as in a photographic portrait compounded with a contemporary subject and a photographer. The history and the time collapse and once more the photography becomes the witness, but only of the reasonableness of the doubt.