Berengo Gardin: the master of the Leica
Text Domenico Paris
Gianni Berengo Gardin is one of the protagonists of the exhibition I grandi maestri. 100 anni di fotografia Leica, being held until 18 February 2018 at Complesso del Vittoriano – Ala Brasini, but above all he is a man who has passionately told the main social and cultural transformations that have marked the history of our Country over the last 60 years with his photos.
We have reached him on the phone for a brief chat.
When Oskar Barnack invented the first Leica model, in your opinion, did he fully know he was about to start a revolution?
«I think so, as he surely understood that passing from an awkward machine, unsuited to catch the moment to a handy and far more practical tool, would have changed for good the way and the meaning of being behind the lens».
What does a person who has been doing this job for a long time think about the triumph of nowadays image by all means?
«I do not look kindly upon this: bypassing more or less “philosophical” considerations, I am mainly scared by the lack of quality and inspiration in the great majority of the images I see. Then, things have degenerated completely with the advent of cell phones. There is a chasm between an image and a real photo. And today I feel there are too many people convinced they can become a photographer overnight».
Beyond the technological aspects, how did your job changed compared to the beginning? Are there higher moral pressures, more responsibilities?
«Technically, not many, as far as I am concerned: I passed from 6×6 to 30×40, which has become one of my style codes. More generally, and in particular with the advent of the digital system, I think that a great change has started in the approach to photography. Today, the trend is to tell less and, unfortunately, less clearly. Perhaps, for this reason also in those unexpected sectors , first of all in fashion, many colleagues continue to prefer using a film to communicate something through their pictures».
Is there a challenge you would like to accept in the near future?
«There still are so many things I would love to photograph, but at the age of 88 I have to come to terms with physical conditions and to be careful. However I have recently done a good job on Nuraghi in Sardinia which has much motivated me and that will be subject of a book to be published soon».