Starting from childhood memories of post-war Milan, the lecture explores a photographers intimate fascination with the city and its strange beauty. The camera provides a unique artistic medium to seek out this beauty. This compulsive interest in cities is rooted in a documentation of Milan's factory buildings carried out in the late 1970s. That initial project disclosed the industrial landscape of the city, revealing a new perception of lights, shadows and absence. From those early portraits of factories to later projects around the world, the void of the urban landscape emerges in all its lyrical force - the campaign conducted in war-torn Beirut in 1991 being a particularly poignant case. The lecture shows the development of an aesthetic view that sees the urban landscape as a 'global place'. By searching for correspondences and analogies, it becomes possible to find familiar elements in the most foreign of places, and to establish an intimate bond with each place as an ever-changing living organism. The ability to observe and accept our contemporary urban condition, cultivated through a constant dialogue with the places photographed, offers the starting point to imagine a better city, and a better future.
Photographer Gabriele Basilico (born in 1944) lives and works in Milan. He began to photograph urban landscapes in the early 1970s, after completing a degree in architecture. His first project, Milano: Ritratti di fabbriche 1978-80, portrayed the Milanese industrial area. In 1984 he was invited to work on the Mission Photographique de la DATAR, a major undertaking sponsored by the French government to record the country's landscapes. In 1991 he took part in the international Mission Photographique documenting the city of Beirut at the end of the the Lebanese Civil War. He has photographed cities all over the world, and his work has been presented in a number of exhibitions and books including Porti di mare (1990), Bord de mer (1992), L'esperienza dei luoghi (1994), Italy: Cross-sections of a country (1998), Interrupted City (1999), Cityscapes (1999), Scattered city (20D5), Intercity (2007). His latest projects are Silicon Valley, in collaboration with the San Francisco Museum of Modem Art; Roma 2007, for Rome International Photography Festival; and Vertical Moscow, a project on Moscow's cityscape portrayed from the top of the seven 'Stalinist towers.'