This is the second part of two articles re-assuming a relationship based on reciprocal admiration and a long conversation about the need for photography.
This story begins with two photographers: the first one, Christian, a Frenchman living in Arcachon, a little town on the Ocean, 70 km away from Bordeaux. The second one, Valeria, an Italian living in Milan.
They have met by chance in the virtual land of an app called Instagram in 2013, and for the last four years they have been sharing their thoughts about photography through two other apps called Viber and Kik. They have never met in the real world until now, though they have been planning to do that sooner or later. As they share not only a love for photography but also the fact they don’t like talking about their personal work, they have decided to write about one another.
(Within dance the expression pas de deux refers to the number of dancers, men and/or women, performing together a sequence of a ballet or choreography.)
My first time on Instagram was not that easy. Despite the kindness and the attention that every photographer seemed to pay to one another, the thought of facing the look of a huge community was embarrassing to me. So I quit. Then I came back and, as far as I can remember, Valeria Cammareri’s black and white work (@_soulkitchen_) was part of the work that just kind of helped me stay for good. Some weird, soft and hypnotizing charm coming out of the street moods and indoor shots attracted me.
And even today, though Valeria is too humble to agree with me, when I try to figure out how to define this peculiar charm, this silent evidence of talent, the only word coming to my mind is art. That is consequently why reading about Valeria’s work will probably lead you to find a new definition for the expression “writing a story” – or at least to reconsider it.
It’s not only because of her keen eye, which usually captures special moods and moments. It’s not only because she knows so much about people, their feelings, and could easily “write” about them with a camera. And it’s not only because this hypersensitive woman refuses to be considered an artist. It’s mainly because she will not accept or be easily satisfied with the other story she wants to tell you – the one that has been anonymously surrounding the shot. You have to follow Valeria’s invitation to the path.
This means you have to write your own story about it, about what you see and feel, and the way you see and feel it. And maybe the door will open at the end of the path. But there is more. Even when the first noticeable thing about her work is that quiet talent for composition that shows up in all of her shots, the evidence of a question appears and remains. Art is asking questions.
Loneliness, people, fading or temporary situations, women, and urban life look like her daily companions on her inspiring journey. And I like to go along, knowing I will follow an invisible thread, surrounded by emotions and amazed by the composition, the shadows and the shapes.
Should the answer lie somewhere between language and photography? Behind this hidden game with the viewer? Whatever. I’m not afraid to say I admire Valeria’s work. I do like the idea of feeling like I’m somehow part of the light, somehow part of the mood inside the shot. As if I could hear something coming out of it. Music, once more. Do not some silences sound like familiar music sometimes?
There is no search for perfection here. No taste for showing off any technical ability. No need for any reference to a big name in photography or quoting anyone to justify her work : Valeria knows exactly where she stands.
I have also been amazed by her use of color. There, again, don’t go looking for any imitation or sophistication – you would be disappointed. Once more photography is used as a means of translation for the chosen instant. Another kind of language, somewhere beyond the sound of words. You are back on the path. Picture after picture, Valeria keeps you close to her, the invisible passenger, as life flows on. Somewhere beside reality.
This photograph (one my favorites, definitely) is a genuine example of Valeria’s ambiguous game between reality and life. The shape of a woman’s body shared with her own shadow. The closed door that both hides and reveals just a few touches of her shape. The balance of our mind. Where does real life stand? Here/There. A suggested beauty, an unwanted sensual pose within a so-close/so-far effect that strikes the eye.
Looking at her pictures may also make you realize how much time or remembrance can both lose their significance. As if they did not have any influence upon your thoughts. You will let your mind enter the image, just the way she lets things pass her by, without again considering reality but letting it write its own parallel slow story.
So if time does not matter, duration, past or future, whether it is vintage colored or black and white, instants are quite valuable to her. Any instant has its own nature. It is just the eye that knows how to catch it that makes the difference, creating situations, inventing moods. Maybe that is the reason why every time I wander through her feed on Instagram, I am just expecting to find something new. And why I do find it every time.
Her stunning game with light and space has always been something noticeable to me since I discovered her amazing work back in 2013. As in the picture above, driving us to some place beside the place with a man in a room, reflecting in a mirror and looking at a new place from what must be a window. Life is a frame.
Part of her work features static situations. More exactly unknown people or friends but generally posing, either sitting or standing. I know she rather shoots isolated persons or will crop the image to focus on one person alone. But I also know how much she enjoys “stolen” moments, shooting as she walks along the city streets.
I love the way she shoots women, definitely. With this real sensation of being close to the situation, part of it, but without disturbing, tip-toeing. I have always been fascinated by the expression of the loneliness appearing through some of her pictures. Human condition and life, or beside life, again.
Unobtrusive and quite invisible, Valeria catches situations in their very essence. Just as if they were the multiple and various parts of a unique secret. And suddenly our everyday life becomes a vehicle on which she is the passenger. Silently capturing the daily journey with her eye, simply showing what we did not notice but was there actually, just beside us.
Just sit away from any noisy mood, like you usually do to enjoy reading your favorite book, and let yourself slowly drift away. Soon you will be writing your own story from her images.
For more of Valeria’s work, visit Instagram.