Saturday, September 13, 2008

Working Class

The 8x10 photographs of Cristina Mian & Marco Frigerio


Working Class is a part of our series about the consequences for Italy’s economic structure since China was accepted into the WTO. Many Italian factories, especially in the textile sector, are rapidly transferring their production to the Chinese, resulting in massive economic changes to both the landscape as well as workers.

The body of work is currently composed of four chapters: Invisible workers, Ideographs, The Dragon invasion, and Working Class. But Working class in particular represented for us a way for exploring new photographic territories and expanding the boundaries of our way of composing and thinking of our photography. In fact for the very first time we decided to put ourselves into the frame, to become part of the composition, and to use our presence, our body, as a form of interaction with the ambience we were capturing.

For the other chapters in our series, we’ve always photographed in a Dusseldorf school-like way — very objective and very depictic. However, at a certain point in researching Working Class, we realized that this was not sufficient anymore, as we felt the need of a more subjective point-of-view: A photography in which not only our thoughts, our emotions, our visions, were clearly expressed, but in which we had the possibility to “risk” ourselves. We wanted to be modified by what we felt and saw in the places we were in. To experience directly the feel on our skin, the smells, the memories, the emotions, and the lives connected with those places.

We also wanted to experiment with our bodies, in one world to interact with our subjects in a way that this interaction became for us —both on a personal as well as on a photographic level — a means of continuous personal discovery, pushing our research into unexpected and unknown territories. This is why we decided to put ourselves in our Working Class images. And our interest for performance art and body art played an important role, since we became interested in these artistic disciplines it was clear for us that we had the expressive need to “translate” their influences in our photography. In other words, they had to be part of our creative processes.

From a visual point of view we were influenced by our devoted passion for Francis Bacon’s paintings. In many of his works, particularly around the main contorted figure(s), there are often other figures that he called “Observers” or “Witnesses” (for example, a man with a hat, or a photographer, or whatever). This kind of visual and conceptual reference deeply influenced the way we posed or acted inside our composition. For example, the way we manipulated or used some objects (like a newspaper). That is not to say that everything was planned. On the contrary, improvisation was our way of choosing how to pose and what to do. But it was a kind of improvisation deeply informed by the influences from performing art, body art and Bacon, and that which we had “accumulated” over the years. And it was this rich history which at that in that particular moment exploded in a new and more personal form.

We prefer that everyone viewing these photographs find his/her own personal meaning for the “disappearing” figures. Our original intention was that they symbolize the fact that we are “crossed” by those places, but also that we were passing through them, like a kind of mutual absorption in a mutual modification/interaction. We also liked the fact that those disappearing figures are as if they were coming from nowhere, past or present or future, and going nowhere, or just disappearing into those places, into memories, into the glass and steel...

Cristina is not present in any of the photos as at the time she was pregnant, and it seemed to us much too “obvious” to portray a pregnant woman, as there are too many strict meanings connected with maternity and birth.

You can see more of Marco & Christina’s work by visiting their website:

From a technical point of view, all the “Working class” series was photographed with an 8x10 view camera (either Calumet C1 Green Monster or Sinar F2), using Velvia 50 and Velvia 100F transparency film.

Reprinted from MAGNAchrom Magazine, Vol 1, Issue 4.

You can download the entire PDF here:

MAGNAchrom: End of Article

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