Exhibition Review: Massimo Vitali at Benrubi Gallery
Massimo Vitali, Disturbed Coastal Systems at Benrubi Gallery
By Amanda Davis
One would get the sense that patience is photographer Massimo Vitali’s best friend. The act of remaining in a singular spot for 8 to 10 hours may sound remarkable to some. For Vitali, it’s his natural habitat.
Vitali is a contemporary photographer living and working in both Italy and Germany. He was born in Como, Italy, in 1944 and started working as a photojournalist for magazines and agencies in Europe.
Vitali’s creative heart, eye, and mind lead him to the Mediterranean shore lines, where crowds of people go to ‘tune in and tune out’ from their daily lives. Disturbed Coastal Systems, his latest works, portrays the existential interaction between humans, the land and sea.
Upon entering the Benrubi Art Gallery in Chelsea, on-lookers will encounter a photo of the renowned photographer standing alongside a scaffold near his chosen landscape. The platform helps to produce aerial view perspectives of his human and coastal subjects.
Dispersed bodies in motion; playing, swimming and conversing are a focus throughout the large-scale image. At first glance, the digital photos, with their bright colors and serene coastal beauty, can put the viewer in a trance. Beyond the photographer’s depiction of the initial moment in time, however, lies a grandeur meaning.These waters represent a past and current sociopolitical context. Let it not be lost that images shot on the beaches of Portugal, for instance, was where over a million Syrian, Afghan and Iraqi refugees first arrived in Europe. "Once you arrive at this awareness, there is a vague sense of doom,” Vitali said in an interview with W Magazine.
Although certain pictures may seem heavily populated, there is a balance that keeps the grandness of it all in check; making the deeper meaning ever so elusive, though true to the saying “everything means something”. There is always a background story, the forgotten history of the past, the vague reality of the present and future, the importance of living in the moment.