New Frontiers

International Exhibition of Photography

By Wanda Nazzari

Texts by Mariolina Cosseddu, Valentina Neri, Ivana Salis
Centro Comunale d'Arte e Cultura  Exmà di Cagliari

From 22th november to 8 december 2013

Opening friday 22th november - 19.00


From 22th november to 8 december 2013  – 9.00 – 13.00 / 16.00 –20.00





New Frontiers project comes from the idea of investigating the new tendencies in photography today through a dialogue between experienced Sardinian professional photographers and their young emerging counterparts, both Italian and international.
For the 2013 edition, the New Frontiers exhibition presents the students of the Man Ray Photo School of Cagliari and the Photoacademy of Berlin.
The first period of exchanges took place in August and September in Berlin, where two students of the Man Ray Photo School, Ivana Barrili and Veronica Frau, guests of the Photoacademy, created a set photography project and participated, together with other students chosen by the Man Ray Photo School, in the Photoacademy exhibition at the end of the year. The project continued in Cagliari in the months of September and October with various dates for the 2013 Man Ray Photo School exhibitions divided into themes held at the Spazio Temporary Storing of the Bartoli Felter Foundation for Art and the Bacheca Gallery.
In November, two students of the Photoacademy, Sandrine Appel and Katja Wassermeyer, guests of the Man Ray Photo School, prepared a reportage on the city and in particular its cultural spaces. The works produced will be presented in Berlin, for the purpose of presenting and promoting Sardinia, especially the city of Cagliari.
The closing appointment will be a collective exhibition at the Exmà of Cagliari, divided into two sections: the first, with The the works of six experienced Sardinian photographers, pays homage to their professional competence and distinctive poetics: Marco Ceraglia (Sassari), Giovanni Coda (Cagliari), Stefano Grassi (Cagliari), Francesco Nonnoi (Cagliari), Donatello Tore (Nuoro) and Daniela Zedda (Cagliari). The second section will display the works of the students of the Man Ray Photo School of Cagliari and the Photoacademy of Berlin.
The purposes of the initiative are: to support the mobility of young students of artistic disciplines and offer them occasions for growth, exchanges and experiences in other international realities; to highlight the importance of schools as the necessary means for training and stimulating creative and intellectual potentialities; to promote Sardinia, and in particular the city of Cagliari, by spreading information about it abroad; to favor integration of different artistic languages and foster a productive exchange of experiences among artists for the purpose of improving their cultural identities and sense of belonging.

 Wanda Nazzari


Today we are sure that photography is the language of our times. More than any other artistic medium, the photograph contains within it the symbolic value of the present: fleeting, fragile, an eternal becoming: our present finds in photography its sheet-anchor. The image reflected and subtracted from the stream of reality obliges us to think of what escapes from us irremediably, to reflect on our mistaken perceptions, to reformulate opinions and arbitrary values. Photography is, de facto, a becoming aware of the automatism of our habitual vision, of visual saturation, of the superficiality of our intentions and situations. This may be why we are living in a time in which we are all seized by a maniacal phenomenon: self-representation. Renamed “selfie” (self timer) and now a social obsession thanks to the success of the new social networks such as Instagram or Pinterest, it is, more than we imagine, the true allegory of an occasional certification of existence, a transitory declaration of life. But the enormous number of images in the web is no less overwhelming than the shots that transform any user into a would-be photographer. Nothing against this new fad of photographing just any piece of reality: feet, smiling mouths, finely prepared dishes, intimate or scabrous details. The art of ill-considered displays is a kind of social virus spreading at the speed of light to produce a new form of still life deprived of all meaning except that of bearing witness to one’s momentary presence in the world.
In this bedlam of images it may be difficult, but only apparently so, for the untrained eye to distinguish what is valid from what is destined to disappear a moment later. Anyone can search for and come to the understanding that we are not always in the presence of the “noble art of photography”.
Photography is the narration and sentiment of reality, thought that becomes vision, artifice that reveals the authentic nature of things. On the contrary, fast technology available to all, which immediately freezes the fleeting instant, leads to the melancholy certainty that life is consumed and forgotten in the seconds following the transience of the image. All is swallowed up by others that are the same, repetitive, fragments of occasional fixity. On the contrary, the true force of the photograph originates in the long, patient wait of the attentive eye to catch or recreate a truth that otherwise would not be told. So how can we distinguish the amateur from the professional?
Pollution from in-depth analysis? Besides talent, always an element in artistic vision and as such easy to recognize, the gifts of ability, dexterity and practical skill are in all cases the result of the conquest of knowledge. Thus a fundamental role is played by the training of vision, the understanding of the main theoretical and practical principles, in a word, the school.
It is in the school that professional competence is created, in study, practice and acquisition of method through thought, skill in planning and meditation. There cannot be the work of vision without a knowledgeable intellectual activity that precedes it, and this in turn can develop only from a mastery of specific instruments of which the mechanisms and solutions
are known.
And once again it is in the school that we go from notion to competence and from this to experimentation, research and the formulation of major awareness. It is obvious that also the act of receiving is a cultural experience and not only intuitive. For this reason the invitation extended to experienced photographers is not intended as a mere demonstration of mastery but as an occasion to reflect on the infinite opportunities offered by the camera, on its skilled use as a cognitive function even before that of communication. Only if we accept the idea that the camera is an instrument of knowledge can we appraise the results, and only if we possess the aesthetic codes of reference (historical, artistic and interdisciplinary) can we create new ones. This is the role of the school, this is the role of the history of photography.
It is certainly not accidental that the New frontiers project turns its attention to young people, putting them in contact with other youths, because it is only from this coming together and the capacity to question oneself that an open and knowledgeable culture can spring.
It must thus be remembered that in photography, as in other artistic disciplines, a complex perceptive relationship, a sensitive and trained interpretation that comes to grips with the creativity of the visual project can derive. In the narration of the present.

Mariolina Cosseddu









Terzo Millennio

Marco Ceraglia’s images portray a theme that is current but often overlooked by many and even more so in the artistic sense: the disappearance of the shepherd’s servant, an autochthonous and ancestral figure in Sardinia’s archaic society, now replaced by occasional immigrants in search of whatever work they can find.
What immediately strikes the eye in the four photographs, all shot in daylight, is the oxymoron of obscurity of the light in which what is lacking is the warm embrace of the sun, almost as if to represent the lack of continuity between earth and sky, a metaphor of old and new, that is, the lack of disposition to perpetuate our history and traditions over time, creating a bridge between generations; perhaps because the globalized shepherd’s servant of the third millennium, in Ceraglia’s own definition, certainly cannot be the witness to it.
In the first image the man is leaning on a dry-stone wall that separates him from the flock in the distance, as if that very wall marked the detachment from a world that does not belong to him; a sensation strengthened on observing his empty and faraway stare. In the second image the shepherd is leaning on a railing beyond which the sheep graze. His expression is
bitter; his posture is rigid and his shovel serves to support the fatigue that he drags with him. Here too we see the detachment in direction between the man and the environment, in an evident non-belonging. The third portrait presents a perspective from below: the young man with an impenetrable face and a diffident expression, a stare representing a challenge to the observer, as if he had been surprised while working. Two pigs follow him at a short distance. The leaden cloud, which almost rests on the youth’s head, is the harbinger of disquiet.
In the final photograph the man is in the midst of his goats; a certain sadness in his expression accompanies him while with his hand he keeps a goat behind him. The colors are sharp, the whiteness of the animals, the green of the pasture and the dark rock in the background become strata to create harmonious, oblique and ascending volumes.
Specifically, social reality, so explicit in this photograph, cannot escape us. It is the mirror of an invisible marginality thirsting for attention so as not to be annihilated.
With this work, Marco Ceraglia illustrates his search for truth and natural capacity, as August Sander said “to see things as they are and not as they should or could be” since, still according to Sander, “the essence of photography is documentary by nature”.

Valentina Neri


Reconsidering the purpose of the body

An old Native American proverb says, “Before you judge a man, walk in his shoes for three moons”. Since the beginning, walking in the shoes of others has been a metaphor of true knowledge. In the wake of this ancient sagacity Giovanni Coda has photographed his models wearing vintage clothes made available by Giuseppina Pisu. “Bring back to life the object that has lived, loved and sometimes suffered with the person wearing it. Only in this way will we have a second chance to come back to life, becoming the exaltation of a recollection. The fragments of soul of the individuals who have worn them or will wear them are closed within the body by the eternal and asexual spirit”.
This is how Giovanni Coda and Giuseppina Pisu explain the poetics of these photographs. If your pictures are not good enough you aren’t close enough. Love people and make them understand it” Robert Capa once suggested to those who want to take up photography. And it is precisely the love for humanity and his ability to approach it profoundly is what Coda has succeeded in focusing on to best effect. The three frontal portraits, the faces grazed by a light that accentuates their milky complexions, giving them an ultramundane nature, stand out against a prune-colored background on which their shadows appear; or is it that the shadow that accompanies them is the spirit of those to whom the clothes they are wearing once belonged? In the first portrait a boy with large dark eyes, thick black hair, fleshy lips and nose is wearing a 1970s-style patterned overcoat and long garish earrings. In the second, the subject is a woman dressed in men’s clothes: white shirt, black jacket, hair lacking, a severe expression. Then once again a man: purple damask overcoat, black hat, clip earrings. Eyes dreamy, enormous and dominant. In these portraits it is almost as if the clothing really had the power to transcend their real functional nature, connoting the three models with their legacies of sensorial and emotive recollections.
But the femininity of the two boys and the maleness of the woman emerge most of all from their expressions. Nothing is out of tune; nothing grates. The blend of clothing and body, between spirit and flesh, is a perfect amalgamation.
The fragments of soul trapped in those garments are penetrated in those three faces, in those three souls. The resurrection has come about.

Valentina Neri



“Of course, there will always be those who look only at technique, who ask ‘how’, while others of a more curious nature will ask ‘why’.” Starting from this quote from Man Ray, which describes quite well the questions that come to mind while contemplating Stefano Grassi’s photographs, one thing immediately stands out: thanks to an intelligent mastery of technique, Grassi breaks through the barrier between the shot and the work of art, succeeding in creating poignant images with fluid pictorial effects full of symbolic meanings that penetrate to the interior to reach a ‘photograph of the soul’. Observing the works in this catalogue one by one, we immediately realize that we are faced with a coherent and dynamic work, both in subject and movement; a film that reproduces a dance in the hidden meanders of the subconscious and that speaks in a fluid and captivating way that perhaps abandons reality to slide into a more and more unknown dimension, one with complex psychological implications. In the first image we find a woman immersed in a background of spaces with rocky and vertical effects; a source of light appears to envelop her from below, only to rise to grasp her by all the angles of her naked body in the attempt to drag her away into an imaginary sky, but something remains on the ground
suspended in reality.
The torsion of the bust is aligned with her glance which remains fixed on the observer, frozen in a present that she still does not want to abandon. In the next photograph the head turns away, evasively, as evasive becomes the background in which the rocky vertical lines are lost. A background that now moves quickly at a speed that is more and more accentuated in the third photograph, in which we almost have the perception of a film that moves so quickly that nothing can be distinguished, as if looking out of a subway train window. In the second and third images the movements of the woman’s body double, as if a part of her were left behind, perhaps a trace that she cannot cancel while the reality of her body continues to proceed forward. In the final image her body appears composed, her eyes are lowered, already lost in emptiness, but her arms are raised. The observer can perceive her wish to fly, leaving a light behind her shoulders; the earthly journey is finished and she is about to enter an imaginary elsewhere, from which earthly reality is removed, is behind her, incarnated in that light.
At this point it is normal to ask, as Man Ray imagines, ‘how?’ and ‘why?’ As said before, the ‘how’ is to be found in the masterly technique, but the ‘why’, the true secret of the alchemy of these images, is to be found in Stefano Grassi’s sensitivity, his ability to penetrate into and reveal stories and emotions, not only from bodies, but also from places, to the point of using his technical mastery to reach magical results of a dreamlike and alchemic flavor capable of disturbing the soul
and senses as only the great masters can do.

Valentina Neri



Portovesme and Monteponi are the places immortalized in this extraordinary gallery of images. At first sight the true central element is the color, the dominant red which has at all times distinguished the landscapes of Sardinia’s Iglesiente region, not lastly due to pollution by the wastes of bauxite. In the first image, an aerial photo, the blue of a sea spotted with oily tones, the different shades of the whites of beaches, the green trees along the roads ad the intense red of the muds at Portovesme take on a further harmonious significance. The second image, another aerial photo, this time lets observers immerse themselves in the ringlike space consisting of a deep sanguine extension, sunny and bright, bordered by a belt of candid soil and the embrace of the trees. The human emptiness of the space, filled only by the density of the color, produces a unique spell. In certain aspects, Nonnoi’s images bring to mind Margaret Bourke-White, an icon of twentieth-century photography, who in the 1930s had an extraordinary success with her courageous and original way of portraying industry through captivating images; in the same way Nonnoi, by showing us the hazardous situation of environmental pollution that has attacked the land, has succeeded in obtaining eye-catching formal results that go beyond the reality to which they correspond. In the third photograph we see the clearness of the cloudless sky irradiated by the sunlight coming from the left; the ruins of buildings dotting the desolate landscape and the canopies of trees act as the natural counterpoint to the reddish expanses and marshy waters of the washery of the Monteponi mine. In the final photograph (still at Monteponi) we see the different environmental strata: the agglomeration of bauxite, the grey of the road with a procession of cyclists, the variety of greenish tones of the gentle slopes; in their expressive synthesis they conceal the unsettling dichotomy of nature and blight. The background is faded by a milky aura that dominates the frame. The elements thus arranged reinterpret reality to make the human landscape call up unsuspected aesthetic essences. Gabriele Basilico once observed that “by freeing the glance of prejudice, the possibility of reading a new beauty that does not exclude, but lives together with mediocrity, may come into being”. This concept reflects perfectly the result produced by Francesco Nonnoi’s inspired vision.

Valentina Neri


Angry faces

The angry faces portrayed by Donatello Tore represent for him an occasional parenthesis in his work. They are a work of alarming social condemnation, but one over which perhaps the artist wishes to spread a veil of optimism in considering sporadic the emotional states he has immortalized.
The anger is that of our times, the anger of the poor, the unemployed, the marginalized, of those who do not succeed in exploiting their capacities; but also of those who expected another turn in history and not the cultural impoverishment that is taking place in our society day after day and at a faster pace owing to the loss of shared values and the capacity to recognize competence and talent and put them to best use.
The work is shot in black and white with great mastery and, thanks to the wise use of contrasts, it reaches expressive results of immediate effect. The first photograph is perhaps the one in which wrath is manifested in the most dramatic way. The man’s face emerging from a black background that accentuates its volumes appears transfigured by anger: the wrinkled brow and twisted mouth express an authentic discomfort, made even more violent by the shine that invades his eyes. In the second image anger is expressed in the fixity of the woman and her aloof glare. Her pain is self-inflicted.
Numerous piercings invade her face: mouth, nose and ears. A martyrdom of piercing. Her head is shaved. It is as if she turns all her anger against her own body. The face occupies the right side of the space and the background is of a slightly iridescent grey in which we can guess at imaginary forms. The third portrait is perhaps the one that shows less anger, a sort of tragic grotesque mask with delirious and mocking eyes that contrast with the rest of the face; in this case the contraction of the face muscles produces the effect of a caricature. The background is grey, masterfully softened by a dim light. The final image stands out even more. It is a half figure that occupies the right side of the frame, this time placed in a three-dimensional space.
The visibly altered expression of the man is made even more authentic by the threatening gesture of his arm. In the words of Henry Cartier-Bresson, “To photograph is to put on the same line of sight the head, the eye and the heart.” It is impossible not to appreciate the precise line of sight with which Donatello Tore, by aligning mind, eye and heart, has succeeded in narrating the state of mind, which as in an epidemic is infecting all of us, the epidemic of anger, the only remedy against which is perhaps creativity.

Valentina Neri



Four portraits full of cryptic and occult objects which, n close examination, sometimes bring to mind the interiors of certain Flemish paintings, both in the vibrant light and because each object in the picture appears to have a reason for being there. In the first painting, a smiling man seated on a piece of wood clothed in phantasmal white, struck by a palpitating light that accentuate his wrists and feet as well as the coarse surface of the wall painted blue at the base that softens some of the elements to the left of the man, such as the cauldron on the tripod and the tangle of rope hanging from the ceiling.
Only the electric switch is there to represent supposed progress. Then a woman! Serene and smiling in a jocund attitude; she is seated on wooden stairs. In front of her, an open door, once again blue, allows a warm light to enter and embrace her tenderly; the full forms of the amphora, placed under the staircase, express a sense of femininity, constant in the image. The woman, the staircase, the amphora. Outside the door, light and freedom; behind the stairs darkness and prison; in the amphora the secret and the mystery. In these two images light and shadow play an essential role. The individual does not occupy the center of the scene. Each object, each color, each shadow represents a separate point of escape. In the third photograph a closed door and an open door: half the face of an elegantly dressed man plays earnestly at hide-and-seek.
although the flat artificial light plays down the scene, the red cloth on the door handle matching the bracelet on the man’s wrist and the blue costume of the marionette hung on the door recall the nostalgia of infancy; as if the half-seen man longed to don those children’s clothes.
The final painting is even more marked, perhaps owing to the lack of that touch of blue that up to now appeared to be the leit-motiv of the four photographs, but the house is still the same; in a certain sense the house of the spirits. A staring boy dressed casually, seated on an old bed with no mattress, holds in his hand a bottle of Coca-Cola which connects us to the defeat of today’s reality. “A portrait allows us to understand people, their intimate nature, what makes them what they are” said Herb Ritts. In these pictures, Daniela Zedda once again confirms herself as a great portrait photographer capable of tracing the mystery of the individual and leaving him/her suspended in our imagination, this time bringing to the
fore from her house her memories of things and events which all together are a part of the portrait, not only the intimate nature of the person that filters through the image but, as Ritts said, “what makes them what they are.”

Valentina Neri



The project is financed by Fondazione Banco di Sardegna, Comune di Cagliari

Thanks to: Camù Centri d’Arte e Musei, Centro Comunale d’Arte e Cultura Exmà, Cantina Giuseppe Altea