We were immediately drawn to the name “SuperNatural” as the theme that would run through the entire cycle of exhibitions, because of the many meanings that can be attributed to the word. In 2022-2023, those exhibitions made Rifugio Digitale one of the most interesting names on the international photography scene. Reflecting backlit scenes of the great conflicts of the Anthropocene, SuperNatural has succeeded in articulating, both visually and symbolically, a path for the study of human nature in relation to the traces men have left on the earth: an open horizon on the dialogue between natural and artificial, but also between the earthly and spiritual dimensions, seen through the eyes of the photographers who have examined the contradictions and hyperbole that inundate our contemporary world, and posed valid interrogatives about the complex position that human beings occupy on the planet.
What we still didn’t know when we set out on this voyage was that SuperNatural would have become charged with even more and deeper significance. But that is exactly what happened when Infoto, the association partnered with Rifugio Digitale in its photographic itineraries, decided to launch a call for emerging Italian photographers who might want to try their hand at this theme. The many interesting submissions that came in response, enabled us to discover new meanings and directions that I myself, when I came up with this concept, had not taken into consideration. So now we are presenting the collective SuperNatural Open Call, a voyage within the voyage, toward uncharted territory: from rituals to excesses, from the roots to the stars, the Italian talents whose works participate in the collective bring us a multiform vision of what it “supernatural”. Theirs are stories of trees, of animals, of children, of aliens. They are stories of nature that go beyond the frontiers of the “natural” and venture in to the space of dreams, of utopias, of hallucinations; stories of bodies: of vulnerable masculinity shielded from every canon or stereotype, of femininity claimed in spite of taboos. For each of these stories, we have chosen a key word that we hope will orient its focus and anchor its direction. These words, together, form the traces from which it all started: SUPERNATURAL. The starting point of our journey and the kaleidoscope through which we have chosen to view the world.
A special section of the exhibition is the Capsule Selection of the SuperNatural Mentoring Program of Infoto, the product of Paolo Cagnacci’s mentorship with the photographers of the Infoto group on the subject of our theme, SuperNatural. Accompanied by Paolo Cagnacci, who coordinated and guided the work, the photographers display their vision in search of new interpretations of everything that challenges, dilates or reinvents the borders of the natural.
The reptilian presumed-humanoids encountered in science fiction and ufology are, according to conspiracy theorists, shape-shifting aliens capable of taking human form in order to seize control of the earth. Based on a humorous rereading of these theories, Homo Saurus depicts a changed, dystopic world, through fictitious documentation testifying to the rise of the reptilian humanoids on our planet.
The Courage to Be a Desire reviews a selection of photos of aspiring porn actresses from the Eighties, attached to application letters sent to the amateur porn-film director Hans Rolly. In their ingenuous, homemade erotic dimension, these snapshots tell of a time before internet, cell phones or digital technologies, in which the porn produced was made and consumed through analogue channels. It was a time when women were still oppressed between the objectification of the television starlet fostered by Berlusconi and the limits imposed by a profoundly patriarchal society such as Italy was, still, at that time. In that world, the gesture of these women to offer themselves freely and knowingly as sexual objects acquires a powerfully revolutionary subtext.
The summer season in Florence can be suffocatingly hot and packed with tourists. In Cruel Summer, Camilla Fatticcioni documents the transformation of the city into a playground for mass tourism, in which the cradle of the Renaissance appears transfigured by excesses and ephemeral pleasures, between the psychedelic colors of the ice cream and the souvenir stands commercializing the icon.
Francesco Paolo Gassi
Produced during his artistic residence at the Lamia Santolina gardens in Puglia, the photographic series By Nature explores the relation between man and the environment, reflecting on the possibility of a return to the roots, far from the artificiality of contemporary society.
Infoto SuperNatural Mentoring Program
Maria Grazia Dainelli
Man has always sought to prove God’s presence. Sublimating natural settings in an evocative imaginary scene, the series searches for traces of divinity in the landscape – in the echo of Spinoza’s words - “Deus sive natura” (God or Nature) – a philosophical vision that does not materialize God, but that endows nature with divinity.
Dance, the original theater, is a group activity, a dance of relationships, where each dancer is reflected in the others, finding part of himself or herself. Observing the approach of the Mexican dancer and choreographer, Araceli Barcenas, the body acts as a messenger between earth and sky, between material and spiritual: the dance unleashes a process of introspective research that, through the movement and connection with nature, brings memories to light, awakens instinct and allows unconscious impulses to emerge.
Infoto SuperNatural Mentoring Program
Second in Italy only to that of Taranto, the steel industry of Piombino has long been the subject of a complex process of reclamation and redevelopment. In a state of almost complete abandon in the last several years, some of its industrial buildings – immense constructions of steel with towers, blast furnaces, the remains of a world that is disappearing – rise above the landscape with their surreal colors and shapes in a horizon largely dominated by rust and scrap metal. Nature peeps out here and there, surrounded by a silent, immobile, suspended atmosphere.
Literally, “writing with light”, the sun’s rays are broken down into their spectrum elements, i.e. the different colors that compose them, using a machine with no lens. The series captures the infiltrations of direct light on the sensor of the camera. The shapes and outlines of the objects are blurred or distorted, beams of light filtered through leaves, shadows that move with the wind and vibrant colors that the pictures capture, revealing nature as a changing, uncertain environment, pulsing with an energy in constant transformation.
Can we imagine having a relationship with nature, without considering its countless energetic, unconscious and spiritual aspects? This series moves along the traces of a search for transcendence in natural spaces, in the awareness of how the “spirit of places” – historically preserved, nourished and handed down through symbols, legends and traditions – conditions the approach that human being have with the planet they inhabit.
Infoto SuperNatural Mentoring Program
In our cultural context, religious faith is managed by an ecclesiastical structure that provides to organize rituals, symbols and places where the religion is practiced by the faithful. Focusing on the details, personal objects and private devotions, this series wants to highlight the distance between the humanized representation of the supernatural and of the very concept of the divinity, but also the dichotomy between official dogma and the religious feeling that, inevitably, everyone develops individually.
Countless volumes talk about books, libraries, readers, bibliophiles and bibliomanias, but the visceral relationship that the artist Rino Melotti has with books as objects, beyond their significance as vehicles of knowledge, contains elements of the extraordinary. In his home, love for books goes beyond the normal pleasure of reading and becomes esthetic fascination. Accumulated in an “orderly chaos”, the books become changeable installations with totemic and architectural shapes: islands, altars, fragments of cities that form a “landscape” in a constant state of flux.
This series grew out of a visual study on the relationship between mass tourism and food in Florence. Starting from a natural raw material, meat, the pictures explore the artificial and hyperbolic forms food can take to meet the tastes of increasingly globalized palates and feed the multiform fantasmagoria of tourist-food. When pictured close-up, the texture of these “cuts” evokes many possible interpretations: from the recollection of animal cells to the geography of imaginary landscapes, from the texture of a fabric seen against the light to the veining in a slab of marble.
Alma Daniele de Silvestro
In Sardinia, a group of entrepreneurs interested in energy-saving and developing a more eco-sustainable supply chain are testing greener methods of production and rediscovering some ancient traditional methods that can be applied to modern industrial processes: from organic dyes made from berries or leaves, to concrete made from purified milk waste.
Infoto SuperNatural Mentoring Program
A garden is a little ecosystem surrounded by the walls that enclose it, a living microcosm in constant transformation. Documenting a garden of 6600 sq.mt. on the slopes of San Miniato al Monte – a small world in antithesis with the urban environment of Florence, whose dreamlike, creative dimensions merges with the biological world – this series reveals the relationships that exist between the elements that compose it, their ability to exist in a mutual relationship of survival and continuous interaction between living beings engaged in generating new life.
A surreal journey to the ends of the night, beyond the natural and toward a darkness charged with drunken euphoria and seductive promise: the city loses the precision of its daylit outlines to reveal itself in changing visions, distorted by speed and the blinding effect of bright light in darkness.
After the hard times brought on by the global recession of 2008, Iceland has made a remarkable recovery, becoming a model for extraordinary conquests. The island decided to take a step backward (or forward?) returning to the land and focusing on the green economy. The farming population increased and the rhythms of nature and the changing seasons marked the passage of time: Andry, a child raised in the language of this land’s extreme nature, was the photographer’s guide to discovery of the complex Icelandic identity.
Animals is set in the central Italian regions involved in the earthquake of 2016: the animals, resource and identity of these regions, become a symbol of resilience and rebirth, in a visual dimension that mixes the complex post-earthquake reality with an imaginary dimension that echoes the fairytales we learned as children.
Giuseppe De Grazia
Between earth and sky is a journey through time and space in search of the author’s own origins, an autobiographical story that documents the pendulum swing between the intimacy of belonging and the isolation of distance, suspended between the geography of one’s roots and the maps of the stars, between breaking away and recovering peaceful harmony.
The Clearing is a meditation on the significance of being a man in contemporary society, a voyage into the subtle shadings of the male soul that attempts to deconstruct the traditional gender assumptions, offering an intimate, delicate representation of masculinity.
Inside the mountain, inside ourselves is a visual exploration of the area between the Apuane Alps and the province of Massa Carrara: an introspective reflection on how man can transform his bond with the land from a source of survival to an object of exploitation. The extreme excavation of marble, the symbol of this province, is a brutal gash on the landscape that continues to grow, marking the evident contrast between man and nature.
The Inversion series grew out of a need to find an intimate, personal perspective on the landscape, adapting it to the measure of an inner life. A new light seeks to conquer the obscurity of the unknown, in which trees and views seem to be the visions of a dream world.
In the project The Space in between, Amazonia is a region suspended in space and time. Here, visible and invisible, natural and supernatural, merge and mingle, and a holy sense of communion with nature pervades everything. The river and forest are sources of life and home to ancestral myths: we stand on the edge of a parallel world populated by demons and enchanted beings. These places, with their cultures, resist the constant threats to their existence.