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For his first solo show at Galleria Massimo Minini, Olivo Barbieri is presenting a series of 17 large-scale photographs that explore the form of contemporary cities and the way space is perceived. Seen from above, the city looks like a giant scale model, ruled by a motionless time that coincides with our present. The landscapes that are photographed, often from a helicopter, seem like unsettling visions that constitute a new approach to analyzing the landscape and the urban context, challenging our normal mode of perception. Barbieri’s vast oeuvre is characterized not only by architecture and a particular view of the architectural element, but by the way it is put in perspective; in essence, by the ordering of space.

Barbieri’s investigation originally focused on artificial lighting in the cities of Europe and Asia, especially after his visits to China. In the mid-Nineties, he began to adopt a new photographic technique that makes it possible to keep only a few points of the image in focus. Always keenly attuned to the mutations of the metropolis, Barbieri probes the memories of places as they evolve, altering their shapes and proportions, because, as he himself says, “There are different ways of both designing and inhabiting the city. The world is not definitive”.

The project site specific_ 08 11, which he undertook in 2003, presents images of cities and infrastructure seen from above as if they were scale models, in which the center and the fringes—fundamental parts of our identity—are re-envisioned in a startling new way. The photos are all taken from a helicopter, and this unusual perspective frees the compositions of all clichés, imbuing them with a different meaning.
The artist’s aim is to explore how much reality actually exists in our lives, and to what degree we truly perceive what lies around us. In addition to color, the images have begun to employ black and white, creating a constant interplay of positive and negative that achieves a precarious equilibrium in dialogue with perspective.

“I took my first aerial photo as a child, the first time I flew in a small airplane. I took it with a twin-lens reflex camera, and to reach the window I had to turn it upside down. They were just a few black and white photos, and I still remember the amazed reaction of the neighborhood photographer who developed them when he saw the image of our town square.”