Milan, Lorenzo Ceva Valla's lockdown photographs on display at IDEA4MI space

Through May 31, the IDEA4MI space is hosting 'The Enchanted Construction Site,' an exhibition by Lorenzo Ceva Valla displaying photographs taken at an immobile construction site during lockdown for 39 consecutive days.

Lorenzo Ceva Valla (Milan, 1967), photographer and filmmaker, presents in the Milan space IDEA4MI the solo exhibition Il cantiere incantato, a photographic project intended to recount the experience of duress lived during the first lockdown in March 2020. Unprecedented shots of a motionless construction site as seen from the window of the photographer’s house, collected in a collage of 624 photographs - 39 rows by 16 columns - intend to give life to a dense experience, which allows to reflect on the role of photography, the psychological aspect of isolation, the perception of time and the evolution of the surrounding urban environment.

The idea for the project was born during the first weeks of lockdown forced by the outbreak of the Covid19 pandemic. During that period, in fact, Lorenzo Ceva Valla experienced the need to document what was happening through the artistic medium that belongs to him, photography. Thus, for 39 consecutive days he took an average of 30 photographs a day, from the first light of dawn until night, with a single subject, the only one he could see from his window: a construction site, a symbol of something that should by definition be moving, but that for reasons of force majeure remained inactive and motionless, like the rest of us.

The shots of the same subject, suspended between nature, space and time, however, become the flywheel to reach something else, which is beyond the dimension we perceive. In fact, the “obsessive” succession of images, only apparently identical but actually unique, communicates the poetic power of the “enchanted” dimension awakened precisely by photography, where every detail, every slightest change is made evident to the eye thanks to the technology and very high resolution used.

It is not true, therefore, that everything was motionless, and this is demonstrated in the collage by the changing light, nature and the succession of seasons, but also some details: the light trail left by the passage of the International Space Station (ISS), the appearance of the reflection of the moon silhouetted on the other side of the sky, and again an individual in a white shirt - Lorenzo Ceva Valla himself - on the side of the road, the artist’s ironic homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window. These are just some of the details that can be noticed from the sequence of photos, symbols of life that continues outside of fixity. It is in this way that, in The Enchanted Construction Site, stillness is transformed into movement, just as when from the carriage of a stationary train, we see another one that is traveling and we have the impression that we too are moving.

The Enchanted Yard is a project born at the desk and was a way for Ceva Valla not only to narrate his lockdown, but to make a reflection on photography, his expressive medium of choice, which, at that moment, marked for him precisely the rhythm of his days and played a salvific and cathartic role.

The project is also a pretext to reflect on the dimension of time perceived in those days: an expanded and dilated time, captured by the long succession of photographs, all the more difficult to comprehend because of the way our memory perceives memories edited as in the scenic sequence of a film. A time that is almost impossible to grasp, except through the alternation of light and dark and all those natural elements that give a trace of it. And so The Enchanted Yard provides an opportunity to meditate on the psychological aspect of seclusion, of “imprisonment,” of the fixity of sight. But it is also an opportunity to talk about the evolution of urban landscapes, about the city changing before our unaware eyes, and about nature, which precisely during those months of lockdown was able to reclaim its spaces.

The Enchanted Yard places emphasis on all these themes, with the aim of stimulating reflection, of sharing an experience that was indeed exclusive, but touched us all. That is why, to crown the exhibition, there will be a series of meetings, debates and convivial moments with people who have been in their own way part of the project, to deepen together with them all levels of reflections that it has brought to the surface.

The exhibition will also feature a number of shots from I Lorenzi, a parallel project of “multiple splitting” of the photographer’s identity, an ideal backstage of The Enchanted Yard: ironic and surreal scenic compositions in which Ceva Valla’s many identities present themselves portrayed in different roles and states at the same time.

For all information, you can visit the artist’s official website.

Milan, Lorenzo Ceva Valla's lockdown photographs on display at IDEA4MI space
Milan, Lorenzo Ceva Valla's lockdown photographs on display at IDEA4MI space

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