Image above: Portrait of Lorenzo Vitturi by ©Davide Gallizio. Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York.
The Parisian avant-garde’s affinity for the flea market at Saint-Ouen is well documented in the art and literature of the early surrealists during the 1920s. A renegade market, the marché aux puces of- fered an ever-changing mix of the old and the new, the practical and the obsolete, the curious and the banal. Out of the rituals of the flea emerged the found object, a conflation of art and life that continues to influence artists today.
Nearly a century later, Lorenzo Vitturi explores a similar ritual, the farmer’s market, in his photo- graphic series and book, Dalston Anatomy. Turning his camera upon the people and goods of the Ridley Road Market in Dalston, Vitturi has assembled a remarkable collection of images that convey the beautiful chaos that characterizes the market and its products.
©Lorenzo Vitturi, Creamy Dalston Stuff, 2013, from the series Dalston Anatomy. Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York.
Like the surrealist object, the subjects chosen by Vitturi play off of the unconscious of viewers and encourage the mind to wander beyond the frame of the image or page of the book. Faces are obscured by trinkets, discarded textiles, and colorful substances, forcing viewers into a double-take in order to make sense of the images. The uncanny is everywhere. Vitturi’s background as a set painter becomes apparent in the vibrant contrasts and precarious compositions throughout the series. His attention to color and lighting lend the images a painterly quality rarely found in the work of contemporary photographers.Yet his arrangements of food pervert the conventional still life. Everything is rotting and nothing is edible.
The ephemeral nature of market transactions and products is a common thread throughout the se- ries. Delicate compositions teeter on collapse at the slightest touch or gentle breeze. Vitturi relies upon his camera to immortalize otherwise untenable sculptural arrangements. Like the surrealists who feared the displacement of the flea market by rapidly spreading department stores, Vitturi poses the farmer’s market as an endangered species in a world dominated by mass produced and marketed foods and products.
©Lorenzo Vitturi, (left) Multicolor #1, 2013; (right) Blue Stripes & Bi-Color Hair, 2013. From the series Dalston Anatomy. Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York.
The threats of gentrification upon an old tradition are felt most outside of the frame of the photo- graphs, as one steps away from the image or sets down the book. The beauty of Dalston Anatomy endures while the fragility of Ridley Road Market in the face of capitalist enterprise cannot be ig- nored. Vitturi’s project emphasizes the pleasures of the unique and the marvelous in an economy that glorifies uniformity and sameness. It is a vanitas theme for the 21st century.
by cory rice