Italia O Italia, by Federico Clavarino and Sean Mark

3 Jan 2015

A hand holding the innards of a broken watch invites you to open Federico Clavarino’s haunting and glorious photobook Italia O Italia. And the enigma overwhelms you, to the point that you almost feel like the victim of an enchanted snake. Italia O Italia is dark yet equally shrouded in a warm light, with a chromatic shade of ‘terracotta’ that is reminiscent of De Chirico’s metaphysical paintings. It’s blatant but also whispered, allusive and dense in mysterious references: fascism, Michelangelo’s fresco The Creation of Adam in the Sistine Chapel, the Roman Empire, Calvino’s Plunge Into Real Estate… It feels a bit neoclassic with a touch of decadence lust. Above all it’s an oxymoron, as is Italy. Perhaps the key is in the ‘O’ [Or]. On a more personal level it is a moving collection of all the most visceral reasons why one cannot live in Italy at the moment but nor can one live without Italy.

Delightfully there is no text whatsoever in the book Italia O Italia and the Photocaptionist couldn’t resist commissioning poet and contributor Sean Mark to respond to Clavarino’s visionary work.

Federica Chiocchetti

Federico Clavarino was born in Turin, Italy, in 1984, where he studied literature and creative writing at Alessandro Baricco’s Scuola Holden. He then moved to Madrid in 2007 and started studying documentary photography at BlankPaper Escuela, where he currently teaches. Italia o Italia is Clavarino’s third photobook, published by Akina Books after “La Vertigine” (Fiesta Ediciones, 2010) and “Ukraina Passport” (Fiesta Ediciones, 2011).