LIFE ABOVE ALL from The Anthology of Spoon River
Milan, June 2008. Life Above All is a project by the brazilian photographer Monica Silva who personally inspired to The Anthology of Spoon River from the American author Edgar Lee Masters.
These shots are characterized by the use of colors of strong emotional impact that underline the intimate soul of the captured character, set in eloquent environments, simple and at the same time rich of details as in a refined game of joint in which everything is equally essential. The project reminds the first daguerreotypes of the eighteen hundreds, when the still photography had the tendency to imitate painting as some portraits belonged to the modern pictorial tradition.
The project Life Above All is hinged on the comparison by sixteen poetries, drawn from the Anthology of Spoon River of Edgar Lee Masters translated in Italian by Fernanda Pivano edited in Italy for the first time by Einaudi in 1943 – and the twenty-five Monica Silva’s prints. There is no discrepancy between the poetic texts and the images of the artist.
The constant “leit motif” in the shots is the bones spread on the floor, bared however from any restlessness, a turnover of the traditional iconography tied up to the vanitas, memento mori, in positive key: the bones spread on the set are not the trophies of the death but symbols of a defeated death.
The characters described in the texts are interpreted with rare sensibility by the photographer who, as underlined in the title of the project, have captured deep messages in Lee Masters work, selecting not the elderly but youngsters in the spring of their lives, to testify the imperishable vital energy of life.
The frowning looks portrayed in some of the images, typical from whom has been hurt or offended during ones life, remain as a remarkable evidence of a past not yet settled and therefore in the phase of resolution as symbolized by the tender age of the characters.
The bright effects, the maniac composition, the emotionally meaningful colors, come into light, thanks to the digital camera and to the metallic Kodak paper prints, chosen by the photographer for its chromatic FX and for it’s tridimensionality. In that way the different levels of depth and the vivacity of the character’s looks, seems to follow who’s looking the pictures. Effects wanted by Monica Silva to bring up the psychology of the characters that populated Lee Masters poetry: men and women from an often turbulent past and whose soul is revealed, without hypocrisy and falsehood, by the poet.
The project was sponsored by Nikon Italia and first in exhibition at Galleria Mazzoleni in Milano followed by Galleria Stefano Forni in Bologna and Codigoro City Hall.
All images © Monica Silva
By Monica Silva
Monica’s Previous Contribution To Edge Of Humanity Magazine