Portraits: The Contemporary Photography Festival (PHIFEST)

By: Gabriela De Marzo

From 14 July to 17 July Milan hosts the Contemporary Photography Festival. The festival’s exhibition is dedicated to photographic works by 12 artists who defined “Portraits” through a face, a color, a shape, or a sign.

The festival is held in the Navigli, a historic part of Milan. The Navigli comprises two water trails designed by architect and painter Leonardo da Vinci. Now the ancient Navigli is a meeting place for young people, the area is the cultural navel and the fertile center of the growing artistic movement in Milan. The atmosphere at the exhibition animates the beating heart of the canals located in the city center of Milan. The festival sought venues diverse in space and light which offers a very fresh vibe.

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Photo by Salvatore Matarazzo at the Contemporary Art Festival in Milan (Pictures in report by Gabriela De Marzo)

I arrive bright and early for the Portfolio talks, the limited edition sessions allow amateur photographers to ask questions and receive advice on their photos- a valuable experience. One of the panel photographers remains behind and I take the opportunity to interview him. Luca Bortolato, one of the 12 portrait artists, used himself as the subject for a personal take.

Artist Luca Bortolato used himself as the subject for a personal take. (Pictures in report by Gabriela De Marzo)

He interpreted his identity through the presentation of 5 women. The portraits are half-length nudes, headless because of the “tearing” of the canvas- manipulated by the artist. The photographer wants to show the roles played by the five women, to give a voice to parts of himself unexpressed, and to offer an intimate side he wouldn’t typically share.

The woman then are seen as a “Medium” between the expression of and the search for self which has resulted in the perfect synchronization of an emotional state that is intimate and that recalls hidden fears to dell’inconfessabile limits. The style is fresh elegant, refined, pleasant.

The nudity is not too overt but is balanced with the soft backgrounds and with the kindness that the photographer wanted to convey. The curator of the project Marta Delpiano, with Luca Taccardi , explains how Luca created his pieces and how the 12 photographers are allowed to each express their personal style even if eccentrically so.

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Portrait by Livio Moiana (Pictures in report by Garbriela De Marzo at PHIFEST Milano 2016)
Portrait by Livio Moiana (Pictures in report by Garbriela De Marzo at PHIFEST Milano 2016)

The variation of the total exhibition includes artists who focus on black and white images (Oliver Blohm) to study form, artists who use color (Roberto Deri) to capture a dialogue between multiple mediums, there were those who focus on graphic images, a pair of Ukrainian twins experts in fashion photography (Dasha & Mari) capture shots of people totally unaware in a candid style of photography. The photographic exhibition properly involves all the senses. I like the idea of “personal” photography and how the festival integrates the concept throughout.

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Photo by Salvatore Matarazzo (Pictures in report by Gabriela De Marzo at PHIFEST Milano 2016)

I intend to take advantage of the busy schedule of workshops, seminars, readings, as well as the meetings with the artists. The exhibition creates a direct communication line between the artist and the artistic consumer- because lest we forget that each of the works on display are for sale.